Since I already read Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth and all the published works of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time at the time of writing this review and quite enjoyed both works, I thought it would be time to start my next epic fantasy, Shannara Series. If I was going for chronology, I should have read Terry Brooks’s series first. This series, started in the 1970s with Sword of Shannara, was the first work of fantasy to appear on New York Times Bestseller list and is widely considered the first great work of modern fantasy.
The series starts with a mysterious stranger heading towards a small village in search of an adopted son who is of vital importance. Sound familiar? This is practically word for word how Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time starts. Well a story has to begin somehow and there is nothing wrong with starting like this.
Shannara is the family name of a line of Elvish kings. The Sword of Shannara is a mystic weapon that is centuries old and is useless to anyone except the heirs of Shannara of whom there is only one left. The sword itself has another secret that you will have to read to find out on your own. Personally I think the secret and how the sword was used was pretty dumb but it doesn’t take away from the rest of the story.
There are five races central in the Shannara realm: Man, elves, dwarves, trolls, and gnomes. The history of Shannara is quite interesting and I’ll let Terry Brooks himself explain it in Sword of Shnnara. What I will say is that there is a loosely post modernism allegory. Millennia before the setting of Sword of Shannara, the inhabitants of the world raced against each other to see who could advance the sciences the faster. This eventually lead to wars and ultimately the loss of all advanced technology. As primitive societies re-evolved, people tried to regain the knowledge of their ancestors. Some of the teachings had been lost and as a result Science lead to mystic powers and sorcery. The founder of this deformed Science was Brona, the Dark Warlock lord who was no longer of mortal flesh.
Two lines in the book I didn’t like were
He focused on putting one foot in front of the other
He knew he was dead
I didn’t actually count and if I had this book in ebook format I’d have a more accurate count, but I do believe both these quotes or some slight variation of the quote were used at least ten times each. The lines themselves are fine, but they get boring when overused as they were.
Well it’s only been book 1 so I should be careful not to make over sweeping generalizations, but it seems clear to me that the series is not quite as “advanced” as Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time or Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth. These two series came after the Shannara Series, so I guess it makes sense that they have opportunities to improve on Brooks’s work. At the time of writing this review, Terry Brooks is still writing, more than 30 years after Sword of Shannara was first published, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he himself improves as the books go on.
Note: this book is also known as book 1 of the Sword of Shannara trilogy. The entire Shannara Series is made up of many trilogies and duologies that are interconnected. For sake of clarity, I will label the books 1,2,……,n based on the order the author suggest we read the books in.