Review – The Sword of Shannara

It’s been a little while since I finished this book and started another. In all the work I’ve been doing lately, it kind of got lost in the ether.

If you remember, I gave a review on the first book in this series called The First King of Shannara. That was my first encounter with the works of Terry Brooks. I was impressed with that book so I went ahead and read the next book, The Sword of Shannara. The funny thing about it is that this book was written before First King of Shannara. Actually, all of the books were. There is about a 20 year gap, with The Sword of Shannara being released in 1977 and First King of Shannara being released in 1996. Since I came to the party late, I actually got to read the books in the right order.

The Sword of Shannara is the longest of the books being 726 pages. This was Brook’s opus and debut novel. I had a little bit of concern with investing in a book that length because of my Robert Jordan experience. But I did like the first book so I decided to dive it. It was time well spent.

The story is about Shea Omsford, a half-elf and the last descendant of the great king Sherle Shannara. The evil druid turned spirit, Brona, is preparing for war against the races of the land and Shea is the only one that can wield the sword to destroy him. Shea, his step-brother Flick, his friend and prince Menion Leah, a giant druid named Allanon, a dwarf named Hendel and a host of others venture to Druid’s Keep which has been taken over by the forces of Brona, to retrieve the sword.

This is epic fantasy and it’s relatively good stuff. I’m not a fan of the long descriptions of the landscape in every other chapter but that’s to be expected. Part of the genre. Plus the instances weren’t belabored which made it more tolerable.

As you read it, you’re probably getting flashbacks of Lord of the Rings because of various similarities. It’s obvious there was some heavy influence there but he actually said that there was. I don’t fault him for that because it’s similar. It’s not an exact duplicate. It’s his version and it’s quite different from Tolkien’s.

Brook’s writing voice is enjoyable to me. He seems to have the right balance of emphasis on certain aspects of the story. Even though there were several different things happening all over (the groups get split up. Always happens) you don’t get lost as you go back and forth to each scene.

However, the climax of this one left much to be desired in my eyes. It wasn’t the worse but it could have been done better. It was a marked departure from the climax in First King of Shannara which was good. In contrast, the last chapter wrap up was refreshing and I enjoyed how the book ended.

After reading two books from Mr. Brook’s, I’m sold. I’m a fan. At some point, you will see another review of the next book in the series, The Elfstones of Shannara (which actually show up in this book). If you haven’t read anything by Mr. Brooks (I’m probably the last person to actually do so but just in case) read these. The journey will be worth it.

RATING: This is the first book I’ve rated since I have been writing reviews. I use an alphabetical grading system (A+ to F) instead of a five star system. Gives me more wiggle room. This gets a B-.

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