Review – First King of Shannara

I must confess. I don’t really like fantasy all that much. Now, I say that having grown up playing tabletop fantasy RPGs. There was an allure there but it was fleeting because I am sold on superheroes lock, stock and barrel. In addition, there was just a glut of fantasy games on the market (still is) and that is simply nauseating.

When Lord of the Rings first hit the big screen, I had zero interest at first. I had never read the books though I had heard of them over the years. Curiosity got the best of me and I went to see it on a weekday afternoon by myself. That started my allure back to fantasy. Now I play Lord of the Rings Online exclusively only because there are no worthy superhero MMOs that have even come close to the greatest MMORPG of all time, City of Heroes (more about that in another post because it has had a great impact on me).

It had been many years, about twenty to be exact, where I had read a fantasy novel. Last novel I had read was the Dragonlance series when it first came out. Though it was good, I was interested more in comic books and other types of novels. As I mentioned in my review, at the end of 2013, my close friend turned me on to Robert Jordan. I read the book and wrote my thoughts here. In a nutshell, it was subpar at best. Left a bad taste in my mouth but I decided to try someone else out to see if my distaste for the genre was really that ingrained. So, I stopped by my local used bookstore and picked up Terry Brooks First King of Shannara which is a prequel to his Shannara trilogy he began back in 1977.

The tone of the book is different from Jordan’s within the first few pages. It is darker. More mature in many respects. Brook’s writing is rife with a depth that is compelling. He hooks you into the story with layered descriptions of settings as well as rich characterizations. He had me hooked.

Yes, there were elves and dwarves and man and trolls. But the one that was different were the gnomes. In my mind, they take the place of goblins in Lord of the Rings. But gnomes are not goblins and that he would go there and use a different race as villain infantry was refreshing.

The book is a trip through the land of which there is no map in the version of the book that I have. I actually had to look at the map after the fact when I bought the first book in the Shannara trilogy The Sword of Shannara. That was a tad annoying. In addition, he sometimes described the settings superflously, even describing the same thing twice in the same paragraph. I am a believer in cutting out unnecessary words and there were some passages that were unnecessary.

There was only on thing that had me put the book down because I felt the scene was too long. It was the battle scene at the end. Yes, this was the scene but the pacing should have switched back and forth between the two parties involved much sooner to keep the reader’s attention focused. However, despite the book’s few shortcomings, I was sold. The ending is awesome. He ties it up superbly. No dangling conclusions that make no sense (still miffed at that Robert Jordan debacle). I was so sold, I went and bought the first two books in the Shannara series, The Sword of Shannara and The Elfstones of Shannara. Unlike Robert Jordan’s series, I’m really looking forward to reading these.

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