He told an online audience on Reddit that he had “irrevocably changed the face of fantasy” and “injected thought into a tired, empty genre.”
In a phone interview, his literary agent, Russell Galen, said: “His fans were wrapped up in his work and Terry personally. And then there were people who literally despised him. Terry was unique in that field in delighting in controversy, delighting in stirring up verbal combat, delighting in stirring up criticism. He was very feisty.”
Terry Lee Goodkind was born on Jan. 11, 1948, in Omaha. His parents, Leo and Natalie (Ruggerio) Goodkind, ran a direct-mail business. As a child, he had undiagnosed dyslexia and would sneak away to the library to read at his own pace. He later dedicated one of his novels to the lone teacher who he said recognized his ability and encouraged his love of storytelling.
Mr. Goodkind attended art school but dropped out. In the mid-1980s, he and his wife, whom he met in 1971, moved to Mount Desert Island in Maine, where he spent nine years building their house.
It was typical of Mr. Goodkind to throw himself intensely into a field of interest, whether it was woodworking, violin making or racecar driving, until he achieved a kind of mastery. He once told Mr. Galen that he had spent years revising and perfecting “Wizard’s First Rule” before sending off the manuscript for consideration.
Mr. Goodkind published other popular series, including “The Nicci Chronicles” and “The Children of D’Hara,” both spun off from the “Sword of Truth” books. In recent years, he turned to contemporary settings in his fiction, writing thrillers, like “The Law of Nines” and “Nest,” which met with similar commercial success.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Goodkind is survived by his mother; a brother, Dan; and a sister, Sandra Aquila.
At his death, Mr. Goodkind was halfway through another novel.
“Only he knows where it was going and how it would end,” Jeri Goodkind said. But, she added, “He was incredibly happy writing it.”