By: Terry Brooks
Synopsis: Long ago, the wars of ancient Evil had ruined the world and forced mankind to compete with many other races – gnomes, trolls, dwarves, and elves. But in the peaceful Shady Vale, half-elfin Shea Ohmsford knew little of such troubles.
THen came the giant, forbidding Allanon, possessed of strange Druidic powers, to reveal that the supposedly dead Warlock Lord was plotting to destroy the world. The sole weapon against the Power of Darkness was the Sword of Shannara, which could only be used by a true heir of Shannara. On Shea, last of the blood line, rested the hope of all races.
Soon a Skull Bearer, dread minion of Evil, flew into the Vale, seeking to destroy Shea. To save the Vale, Shea flees, drawing the Skull Bearer after him.
Format: The Sword of Shannara is the first book in the Original Shannara Trilogy. It introduces us to Shea and his brother Flick, and the struggle for freedom from evil. My copy is 726 pages long, and was published by Ballantine Books. It is A Del Ray book, originally published in 1977.
My Thoughts: I began this book hoping to satisfy a fantasy craving I was having. This turned out to be a fantastic choice! This book has everything you could want from a book. The world is well built, the characters feel real and develop throughout the story, and there is magic and a major problem to solve. All of this is interspersed with some fantastic battle scenes, and the right amount of tension and suspense.
I am a big fan of having maps to look at to understand the world the characters are travelling through and living in. But if the world is not well built, this leads to less interest in the overall story for me. (For example, why would there be a desert beside the most fertile country in a world, please explain). However, this occurs not at all in this book. Where the characters must travel makes sense based upon the geography and skills of the hunters they flee, and where each race lives and unites makes sense based upon the races distinct skills and strengths. On top of this there is a unique changes to well-loved fantasy races, with each race exhibiting traits similar to the archetypes, but also changes that have a logical evolution. This gives an overriding sense of culture to the races, and makes this world seem alive and real.
When you first meet the brothers they have some growing up to do, you can tell, and the other characters can tell. The other characters you meet are well-developed already, and the difference between theses characters highlights there age in a way that seems truly realistic. The characters age matters to the group, and this is a point I find fascinating, as too often I find this is overlooked, when it makes a major part of our own society and thus how we relate to fictional ones. As the story progresses you can watch as the younger characters develop into their potential in a way that feels real, and you can experience their emotions as they acknowledge their changes.
Any classic fantasy book must contain magic, and this mystical element is not forgotten here. The magic is explained enough for us readers to understand its limitations, but mysterious enough that we are left with the same sense of mystery and wonder as the non-magical characters.
I would recommend this book to anyone starting a journey into this genre, or to those who want to read something that can compare with The Lord of the Rings and satisfy the insatiable, and comfortable, need to read the classical Fantasy novels. It is truly amazing, let me know what you think in the comments!