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The Sword of Shannara Mass Market Paperback – July 12, 1983

3.7 out of 5 stars 870 customer reviews
Book 1 of 12 in the Sword of Shannara Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A marvellous fantasy trip Frank Herbert --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

Living in peaceful Shady Vale, Shea Ohmsford knew little of the troubles that plagued the rest of the world. Then the giant, forbidding Allanon revaled that the supposedly dead Warlock Lord was plotting to destory the world. The sole weapon against this Power of Darkness was the Sword of Shannara, which could only be used by a true heir of Shannara--Shea being the last of the bloodline, upon whom all hope rested. Soon a Skull Bearer, dread minion of Evil, flew into the Vale, seeking to destroy Shea. To save the Vale, Shea fled, drawing the Skull Bearer after him....
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Product Details

  • Series: Shannara
  • Mass Market Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (July 12, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345314255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345314253
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.6 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (870 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Terry Brooks' first novel, "The Sword of Shannara," fulfills most of the tenets of an old-fashioned fantasy story and the structure of Western classical mythology. In many ways, the adventures of Shea Ohmsfold and the company from Culhaven is analogous to Frodo Baggins' adventure with the Fellowship out of Rivendale. That Tolkien heavily influenced Brook's narrative is without question; but that doesn't detract from my assessment that Brooks is an excellent writer.

Brooks is a master world-builder and his greatest talent is capturing the right words to paint a canvas in the reader's mind, illustrating every scene with powerful and distinguished clarity. We enter the Four Lands of Brooks' debut novel, immersed in every excruciatingly detailed scene, as would characters that have never left their own backyard. Yet as with many first-time writers, Brooks is still finding his groove and his descriptions are often long, often uneconomical. Streams of paragraphs seem to flow down the page before any action or dialogue even takes place. But his ability to paint scenes serves him well in depicting the climactic Battle of Tyrsis. Brooks weaves story threads gracefully, building up dramatic tension, and culminating in a battle that his writing portrays as both epic in scope and tragic for those involved.

In his later novels, over time, Brooks becomes more adept at characterizations and diversifying their point-of-views. In "Sword", some characters, though not all, suffer from a lack of inner complexities and unstrained development. My favourite characters are arguably the most original and well-developed. Panamon Creel is the brave, if morally ambiguous, rogue who despite being a thief, is anchored to the side of good by his code of honor.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I should start this review by saying that fantasy is not one of my favorite genres. I have read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series and really liked them but never could really get into the whole fantasy thing. The MTV show intrigued me so I started to watch it. I had no idea who Terry Brooks was or concept of the Shannara fantasy world.

I ended up really liking the TV show so I thought I should start reading the series somewhere near the beginning...I realize there are other books perhaps earlier in the timeline but this one was far enough back for me.

I had read some of the critiques of this book and how Mr Brooks likely patterned it after The Lord of the Rings and anyone will tell you that from a character perspective, this is true but for me, that is where the similarity ends. The Shannara world is very different from Middle Earth. Allison is no Gandalf. The Shannara world is one that contained the world of men and was devastated by war and men are waning in power. Middle Earth was turning into the opposite at the end of the trilogy.

I really liked this Shannara world. In many ways, it is more real than Middle Earth. I intend to read a few more of the books in this series to see if this world keeps me interested. I highly recommend this book. A good read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
After reading one of the later Shannara books several years ago, and after recently reading Brooks's stale rendering of the new Star Wars movie, I was not expecting to warm up to his first novel. Boy, was I surprised. I couldn't put it down, for all 726 pages. The book is just one adventure after another, all involving the search for a special sword needed to defeat the evil Warlock Lord who seeks to rule the world. The only man capable of using the sword must embark on a quest to find it, with only a few magic stones as protection against the dreaded Skull Bearers who are after him. If you think this doesn't very original, you're right. But there's one interesting twist: this story takes place in the future.
At least that's what I understood. My friend, who read the book years ago, disagrees. Sure, it appears to be the standard quasi-medieval setting with its kings, its dungeons, and its primitive technology. But one character describes a time in the distant past when humans mastered "a science of machines and power" but ended up unleashing technology in a series of wars that altered the planet and destroyed most of the life on it. Doesn't this sound an awful lot like nuclear holocaust? Society was in ruins, but humans eventually reeemerged along with other "races" they dubbed as gnomes, trolls, dwarves, elves, and the like, all adapted to different lifestyles. They also discovered magic by harnessing the power of the dead.
Other than this curious rationale for a world populated by mythical kinds of creatures, the book rarely strays from the conventions of the genre.
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Format: Audio Cassette
I finally forced myself to finish this book. I purchased the trilogy and, despite grimacing at nearly every turn of the page, here I am.
I like Terry Brooks in the present. Terry Brooks in the 70's, when he wrote this, was frightening. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is rehashed Tolkien by a less skilled hand. In fact, the last time I wrote on this book, I hadn't even finished it yet. The similarities became even more blatant and, yes, pathetic, as I read on. The reason for it being pathetic, of course, is that Brooks tries to cram into 400 pages what Tolkien did in over 1000.
Witness Shea, our token Frodo with his Sam, now known as Flick, loyal to a fault. Shea/Frodo is no hero, but he's got strength of character and will see this thing through to the end.
Withness Allanon/Gandalf, the wise and ominous figure who knows so much and is a friend to all throughout the lands for he is so wise and blah blah.
Witness Aragorn/Balinor, the heroic man of royalty who..suddenly because Faramir/Boromir near the end of the book when we see that his brother, under the influence of the villanois Stenmin/Grima has ventured to take the throne from the king who is slowly being poisoned to death by Stenmin/Grima. Gasp.
Never forget Gimli/Hendle and then poor Legolas who gets turned into two generic elves who are utterly and totally pointless to the story in its entirety and serve only to remind you that yes, Elves exist here.
And then Menion Leah, who really has no parallel in Tolkien. That must mean he's original, right?
Marvel as they journey through the creepy mountain that is not Moria. Witness Allanon fight a Skull Bearer that is not a Balrog, only to smite the beast but have it grab him at the last second and pull him to a fiery doom.
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