The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
How is it Terry Brooks did not get sued by the Tolkien estate for this book? He went to law school, how could he not see the lawsuit in this?
The Sword of Shannara parallels the Lord of the Rings series on so many points it's laughable. About a third of the way in I began to feel deja vu, like I was rereading The Fellowship of the Ring. There are best-bud insignificant protagonists, who are told to go on an adventure by a mysterious wizardy type guy. During the mini-starter adventure they nearly get done in by undeadish dudes and meet a ranger, who is an aloof royal. They meet back up in a safe haven (dwarf this time, not elf) to discuss who and how they shall proceed in their questing against the ultimate evil "dark lord". The similarities go on and on, but I'll stop here, because I'm getting annoyed just thinking about it, as well as bored and I fear you may be, too.
The writing isn't good. Adverbs abound. I know there's an anti anti-adverb movement out there right now, but trust me people, your motives are misguided. You think the uptight lit nazis are going overboard, but I assure you, you do not want to read sloppy, lazy writing. I swear, too many times in this book will you find lines like: "Blah, blah, blah," the sad hero said sadly. Seriously, there was a "sad" and "sadly" together in the same sentence in reference to the same person at one point in this book. It was sad.
The narration was annoying. I had to go with the audiobook on this one though. There's no way I would've finished it otherwise. However, Scott Brick threw up a brick on this one. He's usually good for non-fiction works, but his attempt at accents was laughable (Is this character supposed to be Scottish or Liverpudlian? Oops, never mind! Apparently he's Cockney) and his dramatic reading was overwrought. In fact, now that I think about it, he's always on the edge of melodramatic inflection.
The version I went with was annotated, so every once in a while Brooks himself would pop on to give some insight into the book. When Brick read the first line and then Brooks interrupted, I didn't think I was going to make it, not at that snail's pace. However, the pace did pick up and Brooks' quick and tidy additions provided mostly enjoyable and an occasionally informative interludes.
But hey, enough of my yakkin'! The fact is, this is an epic work with some interesting elements, some of which do tarry from LotR territory. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I feel like Brooks' heart was in the right place. And if nothing else, he was young, enthusiastic and inexperienced. For his legion of fans, it's for the best this book was not buried in legal proceedings and that its author was able to launch a long and fruitful career, for which many readers are grateful.
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