The Sword of Shannara

The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Have you ever wondered if it’s worth your time to pick up an epic fantasy novel? If you’ve read other books by the author, you already know the answer. In my case, if the author is Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, or Elizabeth Moon the answer is definitely yes. But what if you’ve never read the author before? I decided to check out Terry Brooks. He’s been a bestselling fantasy author since 1977, but he’s new to me. I read the Sword of Shannara, which is his first novel, and begins over 20 books set in the Four Lands, in the far future. To begin with, if you’ve ever read The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, you’re in familiar territory. The basic setup is very similar, as are the broad outlines of the story. Some readers call it derivative, others an homage to Tolkien.

Flick Ohlmsford and his adoptive brother Shea, who is half-elven, are sent on a quest by the mysterious Allanon. They flee a Skull Bearer and travel to the city of Leah, to meet Menion Leah, Shea’s friend. They are to meet Balinor and go on a quest to find the sword of Shannara, which only Shea can now wield in an attempt to finally defeat the Wizard Lord. Elves, a dwarf, a thief, and a rock troll accompany the companions along their journey. A beautiful woman is rescued, by accident. Flick becomes a hero by rescuing a king from the gnomes. The companions are bruised and weary so often, it’s amazing they can continue. But about a third of the way through the book, the pace picks up and you forget about the similarities to Tolkien. When the history lessons are over and the companions are separated, the book really takes off and the characters seem more real. This book was an immediate bestseller, and was worth my time to read, all 726 pages of it. I’d like to know what happens next, so I might read the next book, The Elfstones of Shannara.


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