The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
I guess I just fucking don’t like fantasy by guys named Terry. Or guys named Terry. Except Terry Crews. He’s my favorite.
Most of my friends who have read this series and liked it read it when they were much much younger. This book came out in 1977. So it’s more of a respect your roots kind of deal. It reads like every fantasy game ever because it was written before all those games came out. It pretty much went Tolkein, Brooks, Eddings/Dragonlance, and then everyone else. Brooks — who was a law student at Washington and Lee University (holla!) — was given a copy of The Hobbit and thought, “Eh, I could do this.” And thus NaNoWriMo was born.
It’s very slow going. I was told to give it time, and I’m at least giving it the first three books. And it’s not bad. It’s not great, but it’s not blatantly Goodkind bad. Though the reviews for this series tend to be the same on Goodreads — five stars or one star. But I just think those are folks who came off of the violent fast paced rapery of A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s like comparing Dragon Warrior to Final Fantasy XVIIXXLLVIVIV or whatever fucking number they are on now. We’ve come a long way, baby. But I still like Dragon Warrior.
Essentially, Allanon (I cannot get past that name. Did Al-Anon not exist back then?) is a mighty Druid Gandalf who must gather the last blood of an Elven line and with it get the Sword of Shannara which is the only weapon that can stop the Warlock Lord Brona. The world is populated with places like Dragon’s Teeth Mountains and the Silver River and the Mines of Minor Reekage and shit like that. It’s chock full of the whole, “We must journey through Nihalhaven through the Bogs of Despair and up through Sheerstocking Valley to the Plains of Perryfarrell.” Along the way they gather a collection of all the bravest warriors of the races — men, Dwarves, Elves, Trolls, Gnomes. And two reluctant innocents who discover they are truly to be heroes.
The pacing is super slow, in that Allanon takes every opportunity to exposition dump legend like he’s the fucking Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past From The Future. Long ago this is the history of our peoples. It’s just sort of clumsy and wordy and there’s not a lot of action. It is very Tolkeinesque in that way. I mean, it’s not an outright crib, but it’s pretty damn close. But it feels more like linking the chains and paying homage to the lineage of fantasy.
It’s pretty boilerplate, but not bad enough where I’m gonna shuck the book across the room and at least he’s ripping off J.R.R. Tolkein and not Ayn Rand.