Book Review: Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

This week we have another book review coming for you so it can help you decide whether to add something new to your list or maybe even dive into a unexplored theme! Sword of Shannara has definitely for a long time so some of you might be already familiar with the whole series but this is a first for me and I’ve compiled my thoughts under the read-more. I hope it helps in expanding your reading list!

Book Information:

  • Author: Terry Brooks
  • Year Published: 1977
  • Page Count: 664
  • Genre: High Fantasy
  • Pacing: Drawling | Slow | Suspenseful Build | Fluctuating | Steady | Fast | Vague
  • Type: Fantasy | Mix | Realism

Plotting:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Sword of Shannara is one book part of a major series, Shannara Chronicles. The plot surrounds a quest to retrieve a magical sword that can defeat a revived enemy called the Warlock Lord and the only person who can use this sword is a Half-Human, Half-Elf boy named Shea. Although the whole book has multiple perspectives throughout.

This world is supposed to be centuries into the future after the ‘modern’ world was destroyed in a nuclear holocaust they call the Great Wars. Apparently, this is what was considered modern fantasy as well which confused me a little because I first thought modern fantasy meant the world we know now harbored fantastical elements. This story however shows a completely different world with no science or modern development. It’s almost exactly like traditional fantasy except with a different history. I suppose it was just placed into this category because it’s not technically all traditional fantasy.

Either way, the plotting was nicely done although during a lot of parts it did get kind of predictable and reminded me too much of Lord of the Rings at some points. I know Terry Brooks is a very respected author but I obviously can’t just ignore what I felt during the story, this is what the review is for.

However I enjoyed the theme of finding truth in oneself and the ongoing concept of misinterpreted history. It’s definitely a common issue where different people and cultures have wildly conflicting perspectives on something that happened in the past. I really liked seeing that talked about in this book, it definitely added a relatable factor to such a magical journey.

Characterization:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Shea wasn’t a clear cut goodie two shoes. He misunderstood a lot of important concepts and lacked a lot of self-awareness in the beginning of the book. It took him to the very end to realize his mistakes which allowed for a good character development through the story. I also loved the mix of personalities from Shea’s ‘innocence’ (for lack of a better word), Flick’s disciplined and comfort loving nature with Menion’s adventure and mischief. There was a lot of sides to see in the whole story that made the whole journey a lot more fun to observe.

Allanon was also an interesting character though once again I found myself being reminded too much Aragon from Lord of the Rings. There were just a lot of similarities and I know Brooks may not have intended to do that because Allanon and Aragon are different characters/beings who end up doing different things in their respective stories. I’m also pretty sure every reader might have a different view when they read this so it highly depends on how you look at it.

Connection Building:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

The friendship blooming amongst the group in Sword of Shannara was clear to see even though it had been filled with stress a lot of the time. Whenever something tragic happened in the heat of the battle, you could feel their dread and fear of losing someone during that troubling time. In a way, Brooks managed to emulate this silent promise amongst the characters that they would all get out of it alive, well and together. Considering the intensity of the plot itself, the relationship development had been subtle but by the end, you could truly tell these group of people had a bond that would be hard to break.

Setting:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

One of my favourite things about the setting was showing how the Warlock Lord and his decisions affected the physical environment around him. It was almost as if nature had personified abilities to deteriorate when it’s surrounded by things that are negative and harmful. Other than that, it was a standard traditional fantasy setting.

Story Arc:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

There was a clear goal from start to finish. To get the Sword of Shannara and defeat the Warlock Lord. And it’s not a spoiler alert to tell you that’s exactly what happened. I don’t expect a whole lot of twists and turns here other than the Swords purposes is a lot different than what people might expect which is why I’ve given it a high ranking. The concept of the journey was very interesting to me and it managed to tie everything together in subtle, intricate weaves.

Writing Style:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

A little too description heavy. This is definitely a personal preference but I like having a nice, interesting balance between dialogue and description so it almost resembles a melody or song. At a lot of points in this book, the description got so drawling that I had to put the book down and take a day break before having the patience to come back to it again. Obviously Brooks is a good writer but this heavy imbalance was just too hard not to miss or look over.

Social Readings

  • Feminism:

Look. I get it. It’s a book in the 1970’s I shouldn’t expect far too much from it in terms of any kind of social awareness aside from the bare minimum. But there is something so strange to me about having an entire character set in a 600 page book with only one female mentioned as a ‘moving’ character with some substance. That substance being a body linked to Menion’s arm and she’s only introduced towards the end. This could’ve been worked a bit better, 1970’s or not. It may have even somewhat helped with adding variety and prevented the eerie resemblances with Lord of the Rings. And that’s all I can say on this one.

Concluding Thoughts:

Overall, it is definitely a classic high fantasy book and worth checking out if you’re not too nitpicky like I am on certain things. The story is obviously interesting and has themes embedded into it that traditional high fantasy books usually don’t have. Of course you can only truly judge a book if you try to read it yourself!

Please stay safe and healthy!

– Ashley.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s