Opinions about the Shannara Series

Discussion in 'Terry Brooks' started by Creabots, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. Yuoaman

    Yuoaman Active Member

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    Yes, the early books are very formulaic, though after the Talismans series he sort of started breaking away from that formula, though I have to say I enjoy everything which he writes...
     
  2. Moggle

    Moggle Well-Known Member

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    It's true that dwarves and elves are old hat, even for young readers, but is this really the reason why the books aren't very good? After reading 7 chapters of the first book I was already extremely bored with the story and the characters, who btw had some of the lousiest names I've ever come across.
     
  3. GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, I've read everything by Terry (except the Star Wars stuff) and YES quite formulaic and YES not that inspiring with the prose or at times with the simplicity of the storyline but somehow I've found it addictive enough. I suspect because it's a bit like one of those comfort foods you grew up (I literally followed the books since my late teens) with and like going back to even when you know it's not particularly good for you.

    The first 3 Shanarra books were the best for me and then I found the series to sag in the middle but then some of the latter ones were quite good and I'm quite enjoying the current prequels.

    The Word and Void series is actually quite good and definitely the best thing Brooks has ever written, so that's what I would recommend to someone. Kingdom of Landover is a bit more light on but provides some comic relief.
     
  4. JagLover

    JagLover Well-Known Member

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    The sword of Shannara is childish and highly derivative of LOTR.

    There was a big step in quality for the remaining two books of the series. Which Terry Brooks admits himself. An editor he had at the time gave him extensive tutelege in writing and made him abandon altogether his first proposed sequel to the Sword of Shannara.

    To say the later two books were better however does not mean they stand comparison with the best the genre has to offer. Only that at least they are worth reading, particularly for younger readers.
     
  5. GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    It's certainly derivative, no arguments there....:)

    You wouldn't compare these books with the best the Genre has to offer. That would certainly be comparing chalk with cheese. Word and Void isn't bad. I would place that as being above average but that's all.

    I read most of these books in my late teens/early 20s before moving on to other things. A fair assessment that they would be popular with a YA audience. If you want something reasonably light, which I sometimes like to read, then I delve into the current prequels.

    Who are some of your favourite authors Jaglover??
     
  6. ghost8772

    ghost8772 Well-Known Member

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    what makes up best of a genre? originality or formula? mold or shattered remains?

    I did enjoy the Sword to Talismans run of Shannara, though I still feel the first was more LoTR chewed up and spit back out on the paper. enough of Brooks put into it so it was at least internally consistent and made sense. Elfstones was head and shoulders above its predecessor. and also the reason I felt it wasn't as much YA. several evil creatures, and the ending are a heavy divergence from fairy tale, and even some YA levels (at least compared to the current fare shelved at that level) after the first trilogy, he did stretch the epic quest out over several books. no I don't think shannara is on a level with master literary works, but its also not some of the drek cranked out to fill the shelves at Borders, in the hopes it gets bought.
     
  7. JagLover

    JagLover Well-Known Member

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    Robert Jordon, particularly his earlier books (and now the new RJ/BS hybrid)

    George R Martin, though tired of waiting, sadly in this case that was a fantasy series I started near the start.

    Kate Elliott is not normally an author I would compare to the best, but her new Crossroads series is very good indeed and makes a change from the authors mentioned above with her faster pacing.

    Of course there is Tolkein. Imitated so much that his work can seem too familiar, but the original is still the best.

    Julian May had a good sci-fi/fantasy hybrid with the saga of the exiles (the many coloured land). Its not even in print in this country anymore which says something I suppose for the declining sales of sci-fi as a genre and why many sci-fi authors have switched to pure fantasy.

    Steven Erickson may be very good, but unfortuantly I have only read the first 5 books or so of his series, all spaced apart, which given how hard it is to figure out what is going on to start with, is probably a mistake. One day I will reread the books I have then take it forward and see what I think.
     
  8. makku-kun

    makku-kun New Member

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    I liked them though I started from the second last trilogy, or that would be third last now, non chronologically mind.
    So from my first encounter I thought it was a good twist when I realised that the world of shannara came after our own.
    I also liked how it mixed up witht the Nest Freemark trilogy.
     
  9. Syphon of Oor-Tael

    Syphon of Oor-Tael is going fishing

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    It's great!
    What can I say? I started it when I was a wee one, going so far as to purposefully damage a book in order to claim it for myself from the library. Does that show how much I love it? I think it does.
     
  10. RJT_Author

    RJT_Author New Member

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    I agree it's a great series. I've read more of it than other other fantasy series. There are some particularly great moments in the Scions series that really drove me to get more into fantatsy writing myself.
     
  11. Kimbo

    Kimbo Science fiction fantasy

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    It was a long time ago now, but I remember spending many hours engrossed in The Shannara series. Recommended to all!!!!
     
  12. BluePhoenix711

    BluePhoenix711 Bloody Scribbler

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    I agree totally. Hands down for me, his Word and Void novels are the best ones he has written.

    I am impressed however in the way he links this modern day tale of good and evil to the eventual destruction of our world and the creation of the new world known as Shannara. Very interesting to me how he did that.
     
  13. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

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    I've always liked the Shannara series. Last one I read was the First King of Shannara
     
  14. Reivax26

    Reivax26 Well-Known Member

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    I have read almost all of the Shannara books and I enjoyed all of them. I will admit that the Knight and Void series are his best work. Running with the Demon is one of my favorite books ever written by anyone.

    If you are going to complain about the fact that he has Dwarves, Elves and the other elements of LoTR in his books then you will have to bash every fantasy writer that used those races as a copycat as well. He didn't invent the mythology behind those creatures, he just put them into his setting and used them.

    It would be the same if someone complained that every time travel book ever written was a copycat of Well's Time Machine.
     
  15. biodroid

    biodroid Expensive Gadget User

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    Can one start the series from Elfstones of Shannara? I find the first book to be a bit of a drag.
     
  16. RoninJedi84

    RoninJedi84 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, you can. The first three books in the series -

    The Sword of Shannara
    The Elfstones of Shannara
    The Wishsong of Shannara


    Are all stand-alone books. They're sequels, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand what's going on. He puts just enough back story in there so that you can keep up.

    It's not until Scions that you get to the "must be read together" section, as each is a saga/trilogy (and in one case, a duology).

    I've been a big Shannara fan for about 15 years. I actually started reading them again last year in prep for the Dark Legacy trilogy, and I'll admit that Sword kinda felt like required homework while I was reading it. Other than that, I think the High Druid trilogy is also a low point. Not bad, really, but you can just feel it doesn't have the same heart as the series before it.

    Voyage of the Jerle Shannara is still my favorite trilogy in the series, but Elfstones is by far my favorite stand alone.

    I honestly think the High Druid series can be skipped, because like the stand-alone novels, Dark Legacy puts in enough back story from that series to allow you to keep up. Sword may be able to be skipped, also, but since I never did I'm not sure. Maybe someone has and can offer an opinion?

    Keep in mind, too, that the Word/Void books are prequels to the Shannara series. If you want to go in chronological order, read

    Word/Void Series - Running With the Demon, A Knight of the Word, Angel Fire East

    Genesis Series - Armageddon's Children, Elves of Cintra, The Gypsy Morph

    Legends Series - Bearers of the Black Staff, Measure of the Magic

    First King
    Sword
    Elfstones
    Wishsong

    Heritage Series - Scions, Druid, Elf Queen, Talismans

    Voyage Series - Ilse Witch, Antrax, Morgawr

    High Druid Series - Jarka Ruus, Tanequil, Straken

    Dark Legacy Series - Wards of Faerie, Bloodfire Quest, Witch Wraith


    My personal recommends are Elfstones, First King, Voyage Series, Genesis Series, and the Dark Legacy series.

    Well, now that this went way longer than I meant it to...yeah. Hope you enjoy the books!
     
  17. Ian The Poet

    Ian The Poet Wizard Time Traveller

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    I'm reading, 'First King of Shannara,' which is the prequel to the Shannara trilogy. It brings everything into context.
     
  18. biodroid

    biodroid Expensive Gadget User

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    I am just over 100 pages into Sword of Shannara and it's quite good so far. A little bit reminiscent of Lord of the Rings but not glaringly so that I want to put it down. I hear that the second half gets better and becomes less Tolkien like. I like Terry Brooks's writing, even thought it's a first book. I have read his Star Wars Phantom Menace book and loved that one. He seems to be a consistently good writer.
     
  19. Karn Maeshalanadae

    Karn Maeshalanadae I'm a pineapple

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    I would say that's a good summation of Sword of Shannara, but if I were you, biodroid, I actually wouldn't bother continuing the series. It could have been really nice had Brooks just left it as a standalone novel.


    Spoilers here...


    Each novel of the first Shannara trilogy could be its own standalone novel. The main character focus is shifted horribly, to the point of next generation characters. With the first three Shannara books, only one character is used consistently throughout all of them.

    The second Shannara set, which is I remember correctly is made up of five volumes, isn't as bad. It actually keeps its own over-branching arc and actually keeps most of the characters consistent throughout it all.


    It was with the third Shannara set that I just threw up my hands and quit reading the series.
     
  20. biodroid

    biodroid Expensive Gadget User

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    I'll see how it goes but I am liking his world building which I noticed is lacking in the more modern fantasy. I also get put off by the gritty and overly violent fantasy, except for Joe Abercrombie. I like the sense of wonder and adventure and just plain entertainment that Brooks seems to be delivering.
     
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