Title: The Sword of Shannara
Author: Terry Brooks
Year Published: 1977
Narrator: Scott Brick
Audiobook Length: 26 hours
Synopsis: Long ago, wars of ancient Evil ruined the world and forced mankind to compete with many other races - gnomes, trolls, dwarfs, and elves. In peaceful Shady Vale, half-elfin Shea Ohmsford knows little of such troubles until giant, forbidding Allanon, with strange Druidic powers, reveals a supposedly-dead Warlock Lord plots to destroy the world.
The sole weapon against this Power of Darkness is the Sword of Shannara, only usable by a true heir of Shannara. On Shea, last of the bloodline, rests the hope of all the races. Soon a Skull Bearer, dread minion of Evil, flies into the Vale to kill Shea. To save the Vale, Shea flees, drawing the Skull Bearer after him.
Review: There were a few reasons I wanted to read this book. A tv series on MTV, which actually follows the second book not this one, recently came out. The Sword & Laser book club is reading it this month. And, it's a classic fantasy novel that I want to have read so I can have a valid opinion of it. For those reasons, I stuck to it and finished the book. I took it as a challenge.
This book started out very slow. There is so much exposition and history. It is highly influenced by The Lord of the Rings. There are some scenes, characters, and plot points that are directly pulled from or parallel precisely those in Tolkien's works. Some of them change just enough for it to be a comment or allusion to the world's most well known fantasy trilogy, but others seem like fan fiction dreams.
I was listening to the audiobook version of this book. By the time I was a third in, I had increased the speed to 3x. I have never even listened to a book at 1.5x speed. Surprisingly, I could understand it perfectly and things seemed to start happening a lot more often. I'm not sure if it was just the speed increase or if the book actually did get better as it continued.
One of the biggest differences between Brooks's and Tolkien's works is that the Shannara Chronicles take place in a far future after the fall of man. I thought that aspect was interesting, but this book didn't delve into it much. I also wanted a better explanation for the different races. It seems like they were supposed to have all evolved from humans, but the evolutionary theory behind it did not make any sense.
I know this book is almost forty years old, but there was only one female character. There was even a fake-out where a woman ended up just being an illusion. There were a lot of characters and I found myself not remembering. When the story focused on smaller groups I enjoyed it more. Panamon Creel was my favorite character. If this book was written in 2016, there would definitely have been more romantic tension between him and Shea Ohmsford. I ship it!
I did not enjoy this book. I found it interesting, but at this moment I have no desire to continue this series. The book was far too long for how simple it was. I don't regret reading it. Now I can participate in discussions about this book. I give The Sword of Shannara a 2/5. It has not aged well. I don't recommend this to anyone unless they fully know what they're getting into. It's long. There's action, but a lot of exposition. There's an abridged audiobook version that somehow shaves twenty hours off the book. That shows how much fluff and unnecessary elements are in this book. The world overall was interesting, but the way it was introduced was snore-inducing. I'm still deciding on whether I want to check out the tv show.