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The Sword of Shannara Trilogy
The Sword of Shannara Trilogy
by Terry Brooks
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.80
107 used & new from $6.54

70 of 79 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, entertaining reading, December 8, 2002
I first read the Shannara books in junior high (early 90s) and instantly fell in love. They were the first epic fantasy books I'd ever read, the only other real fantasy book I'd read at that time being "The Hobbit." For the next decade, I'd read the Shannara books as they emerged, never feeling inclined to pick up the LOTR trilogy. For some reason, it looked boring to me when I was in high school. Then, in 2001, I decided that I'd better read the trilogy before the "LOTR: Fellowship" film came out. I really wanted to see the movie but felt that it would be bad form to see the film without having read the book.
So, I galloped through the trilogy, and it completely reframed how I viewed the Shannara books. In short, the LOTR trilogy completely blew me away. Aftwards, it almost made me sad to compare the two series. I spent a while feeling pretty negatively towards Mr. Brooks for what I felt were unforgivably blatant Tolkien rip-offs: Allanon/Gandalf, Elessedil/Elendil, Shady Vale/the Shire, wonderful elves/wonderful elves, etc., and all the other issues that Amazon reviewers have taken umbrage with.
I've since changed my tune. When all is said and done, when I go and re-read the Shannara books, they never fail to keep me up til 2:00 a.m., just as the LOTR trilogy does when it assumes a place on my night table. Mr. Brooks's works are, simply put, darn good pieces of storytelling -- when I'm lost in the pages of "The Elfstones..." at 1:30 a.m., it's not because I've been awake mentally critiquing Brook's characterization of the hero in the epic journey.
It is not Brooks's fault that he must write in Tolkien's shadow; Brooks certainly knew that his work was bound to draw comparisons (favorable and not so) to LOTR, and I think he has made the best of it. A recycling of themes, tropes, stock characters, etc., is inevitable in any literary tradition, movement, or genre, so I cannot fault Mr. Brooks for creating & populating the Four Lands in the manner that he has. When I re-read the books in the Shannara series, I do so to enjoy them on their own terms and for their own merits.
My main criticism of the Shannara franchise is the sheer number of books. I suspect that the quality of Mr. Brooks's writing in the most recent books falls below that of the original Shannara trilogy & Heritage series. I should say that in fairness, I've not read the latest one; I tried reading the "Ilse Witch: Voyage..." and could not make it through. I just couldn't read it for some reason, and I haven't tried the other two. All good things must eventually come to an end, and perhaps Mr. Brooks would have done well to end Shannara with "The Talismans...". Extending a series just to extend a series is not always a good thing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 12, 2012 9:13 AM PDT

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