The Sword of Shannara

Frequency Score= 8.05      Synchronometer= 9.1

Collin’s Review

The Sword of Shannara Trilogy is a fairly obscure fantasy/adventure series written by Terry Brooks in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Each book in this trilogy introduces new characters and distinct plots. However, there is some carry over between the books. This being said, each book is able to stand alone.  In this review, I will be discussing the first book in the series, which is aptly titled The Sword of Shannara.

I first read this novel in middle school at the urging of my dad. He bought me a thick book that contained all three novels. Walking the middle school halls with a 1,100+ page book in tow didn’t exactly bolster my popularity.  However, it did impress many teachers. In turn, hurting my popularity even further. Finding myself at the bottom of the middle school food chain with a tree trunk of a book had some unforeseen positives. Over time, I found that The Sword of Shannara, as well as being an awesome book, could function as a step stool, or more satisfyingly—as a bully bludgeon. Enough about me, on to the book!

This book plays on many themes common to the fantasy/adventure genre. This series is similar to the Lord of the Rings, eerily similar in the first book in fact. An awesomely-powerful, yet cryptic character assembles a team, one could say a “fellowship,” to vanquish evil in a far-off land. Asides from human warriors, dwarves, and elves, an average-Joe type character is selected to go on the journey due to his family lineage.

Though this book and the Lord of the Rings series share some initial commonalities, the differences soon become evident, especially in the later books. However, fans of the Lord of the Rings and other similar fantasy/adventure book will surely find a lot to like in this book. There are great battles, an evil warlock lord, magic and sorcery; everything one could want in a fantasy/adventure books.

Brooks’ descriptions of battle scenes, unique places, and the landscape are excellent. He is able to transport readers to another place and time.

Also, Brooks does a superb job of developing characters. If you read this book, you will grow fond of the Ohmsfords, Menion Leah, and Balinor. You will be intensely curious about the druid Allanon. Brooks infuses the plot throughout by introducing interesting minor characters such as Panamon Creel.

Ultimately, this book is worth reading in order to read the next two books in the series which are even more fantastic. The second book in the series, The Elfstones of Shannara, is my favorite novel of all time.

Overall, I found this book to be a highly satisfying read. For those of you interested in Lord of the Rings type stories, this will be a perfect read.

C Score: 4.25

Tyus’s Take:

I was actually introduced to this book by Collin in the midst of our junior year of high school. Due to my trust in his opinion and my fondness of the Lord of the Rings series, I decided to give it a shot. This was a fantastic decision, as The Sword of Shannara series quickly became one of my favorites. That being said, the premier book and namesake of the series has its fair share of shortcomings.

The Sword of Shannara is a lightning quick-paced, adventure filled novel that boasts mighty warriors, mystical evil forces, and unexpected heroes. It takes the reader on a journey across the fantastical Four Lands on an action-packed quest to obtain the mysterious Sword of Shannara. On its own, the book has all of the makings of a top-notch fantasy novel. However, the similarities it bears to The Lord of the Rings (published years earlier) presents a startling red flag.

One of the most enjoyable elements of The Sword of Shannara is its colorful cast of characters. This is tarnished, however, when they are compared to those of The Lord of the Rings. A quick analysis shows that practically every character in The Sword of Shannara is a near carbon copy of one of their Tolkien counterparts. This takes away from the individuality of the novel, and ultimately diminishes its integrity.

Nevertheless, although it may be difficult to get past the book’s resemblance to The Lord of the Rings for many Tolkien fans, The Sword of Shannara is still a worthwhile read. It is a fast, enjoyable read, and if nothing else provides a foundation for the far superior books that it precedes.

T Score: 3.8

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