Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

The Sword of Shannara (The Original Shannara Trilogy, #1)The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was another re-read of a classic that got me into the fantasy genre decades ago. Time has shined new light on these classics as newer authors and works have explored and improved the genre. In many instances, this first Shannara book is a retelling of The Lord of the Rings. A multi-race (or species?) band of adventurers set out to find a magical artifact that can only be wielded by an unlikely hero. They have to travel through a mountain full of dead kings. The elves show up to narrowly save the day at a besieged fortress against a mountain. There is a fight between a thing of evil and the master magician/mentor and they fall into a fiery pit and are thought to be lost. You get the point.

Yet, it was fun. If I put aside the deja vu born of too much experience with the genre over the last 20-30 years, why not enjoy such a retelling? Why not go on another adventure, even if it is similar to others? So while I can't say I'm as excited by it as I once was, I appreciate both what it is, and the place it holds in the growth of fantasy fiction.

Finally, I think back to my fairly recent rereading of Terry Brooks' Magic Kingdom For Sale series (Books 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), and about the improvement in writing over the course of that series. The first 3 books were similar to this one in what I will call "quality", but as the series progressed and Brooks revisited the setting years later, the quality of story telling and writing was significantly better. I don't know when or if I'll get to the next Shannara book, and I know that it will be quite a while before I get to the newer Shannara books that might show similar progress, but I think I can expect that kind of lift over time, and so this early work gets a break overall in my opinion.