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October Books 13) The Sword of Shannara

13) The Sword of Shannara, by Terry Brooks

Got this as one of the few remaining books on this list, and gave up after page 100. It's basically a Tolkien knock-off, with nothing much original or interesting that I could detect.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 19th, 2008 08:50 am (UTC)
I remember seeing someone in what was then Dillons in Oxford direct a friend to Brooks's Shannara books, endorsing them as "like Tolkien, only better". Tom Shippey has a paragraph or two in Tolkien: Author of the Century on why some people think like this.
Oct. 19th, 2008 11:44 am (UTC)
Is it by any chance because it's "like Tolkien, only easier"?
Oct. 19th, 2008 11:49 am (UTC)
Depends what you mean by easier, but Shippey argues that Brooks takes the basic story elements of The Lord of the Rings and turns them into a formula while ignoring the philological scholarship, the theology etc which underpins them.
Oct. 19th, 2008 08:52 am (UTC)
Basically junk food for the brain?

He's a writer I'm not going to waste my time on again.
Oct. 19th, 2008 09:02 am (UTC)
I guess maybe it's significant because it was the first really popular Extruded Fantasy Product?
Oct. 19th, 2008 09:28 am (UTC)
Wow, it's sad that that made the list. I too gave up pretty early.
Oct. 19th, 2008 09:39 am (UTC)
I got a copy of this last year at Fantasycon so he could sign it for me (he was a GoH). I'm sure I read it back when it came out but doubt I would re-read it now.

Lovely man, too bad I've outgrown his books.

Oct. 19th, 2008 10:55 am (UTC)
"It's basically a Tolkien knock-off, with nothing much original or interesting that I could detect."

This is where we find out if Sea Wasp reads your lj.
Oct. 19th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
I do.
Oct. 19th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC)
I enjoyed the first half dozen Shannara books back in my early teens (10 yrs old or so), until they started to get too repetitive (and the protracted battle scenes bored me). At that age I found them easier on a first run that LOTR which I began, put aside, and then came back to at an older age. But undeniably I enjoyed them a lot at the time.

I attended a kaffeeklatche (sp?) with Terry Brooks in Glasgow. Now i don't know if I inadvertently put my foot in it and he was just terribly polite about it (as is unfortunately my habit sometimes), but i did mention to him how much I had enjoyed the books and how they had been like a stepping stone for me at that age into LOTR, because the Shannara books were certainly inspired by or in the style of Tolkien. He thanked me for teh compliment, saying he was glad to hear that I had enjoyed them so much and that it was a good thing, something that pleased him if his books were helping people to get into the genre a bit more readily than LOTR. If have very fond memories of the books, but they are now ranked as those that I probably won't revisit lest my childhood memories of them be sullied!

I can certainly see however, if you were already familier with Tolkien, how you could be less than impressed with these.
Oct. 19th, 2008 01:48 pm (UTC)
No, you didn't put your foot in it. You said something nice about the books. I assure you, Terry has had many people come up to him with vastly less polite things to say.

But he IS a very nice guy -- it was a lot of fun to meet him and talk with him at a couple of conventions.
Oct. 19th, 2008 11:38 am (UTC)
Many of my friends raved about it when I was at school (lower years, 12/13ish) and I think I picked up one of his other books, tried to get into it and came to a similar conclusion. Except that that was 'too like Tolkien', which at the time I didn't like that much.

Regardless, there are many fans of epic high fantasy, and some of them will buy into anything. Including Terry Goodkind.
Oct. 19th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
You summoned me?
Even the first book has rather noticeable differences from LotR. as I've discussed at length, off and on (the two trivially obvious ones are the Sword itself and Allanon, both of which being DRASTICALLY different from their putative parallels in LotR). Later books have increasing divergence and some quite clever additions.

I think I've managed to change ONE person's mind on this over the years, so I don't expect any particular success anywhere else.

Terry's "Magic Kingdom for Sale--SOLD" series is of course its own beast, as is his Knight of the Word series.
Oct. 19th, 2008 01:52 pm (UTC)
Ah yes, I remember starting to read this on a train between London St Pancras and Derby back in 1983. I left it on the train, which is not something I do very often!
Oct. 19th, 2008 04:43 pm (UTC)
I can't believe it made that list. I thought it was derivative tosh.
Oct. 19th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
That's just how I felt about it when I was 10 years old. I suspect trying again would make it even worse!
Oct. 21st, 2008 03:21 am (UTC)
The second trilogy was in many ways better. I also rather liked the reference to a technological civilization's collapse leading to the Shannara world. Otherwise, quite the same, in a general sense.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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