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The Sword of Shannara - does it get better?

The Green Dragon

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1adam.currey
Dec 22, 2017, 6:19am Top

Apologies in advance - I'm sure this has been discussed many times before.

I come to ask a serious question, rather than to start a flame war:-

So, I've been meaning to try out some Terry Brooks for a while now, and finally got around to getting a copy of The Sword of Shannara. I have to say, it's really not grabbing me. I had already read the comments about it being very derivative, and that fact was very obvious to me the moment I started reading it. As a fan of LOTR going back to the mid-1980's, I'm finding Shannara not only derivative, but comparatively unengaging, and well, boring.

So my question is: does it get better after the first book?

Thanks,
Adam

2hfglen
Dec 22, 2017, 6:39am Top

I know there are people out there that like the shannara series -- there must be or my local library wouldn't have so many -- but I have never managed to complete one despite several tries. Indeed, the only Terry Brooks that has ever kept my interest to the end is Magic Kingdom for sale -- sold.

And by the way, flame wars are traditionally frowned on (at least) in this pub, so you are quite safe.

3reading_fox
Dec 22, 2017, 6:55am Top

Short answer No it doesn't get better. There's a lot more of it, and if you like then go ahead and read it all. But if you haven't enjoyed the first one, I wouldn't suggest reading any further, as it's all the same (at least as far as I bothered).

4Jarandel
Edited: Dec 22, 2017, 7:02am Top

Didn't even try personally, general consensus when polling a few other fantasy readers I trusted was that while the next books were slightly less derivative there was probably a wealth of other books out there that I'd rather be reading.

On the other hand it would have been a pity to miss on G. G. Kay's Tigana or the Sarantium duology, because the Fionavar trilogy did put me off any further works of his almost as badly for a number of years.

5BookstoogeLT
Edited: Dec 22, 2017, 7:33am Top

Adding my voice. I enjoyed the first 10 -15, but they never changed. So if you didn't like Sword I can't see any of the future installments working for you either.

Off Subject:
If you want Tolkien derivative, try Dennis McKeirnan's Iron Tower trilogy. Now THAT'S derivative :-D

6Maddz
Dec 22, 2017, 8:19am Top

>5 BookstoogeLT: My bete noir of bad Tolkeinesque derivative fantasy was The Road to Underfall. That was one book I gave up half-way on.

I read Shannara years ago, I think I read the 1st 3 or so, but they got culled many years ago so I can't remember anything about them.

7BookstoogeLT
Dec 22, 2017, 8:55am Top

>6 Maddz: Noooo! I love that book and that trilogy! Of course, when I tried to re-read it a couple of years ago I realized that I needed to NOT re-read them so my wonderful memories would stay pristine. It's something I'd recommend to a teen now, not my 40yearold self :-(

>1 adam.currey: Sorry to keep dragging this off topic :-)

8Maddz
Dec 22, 2017, 9:22am Top

>7 BookstoogeLT: I think I was in my early 20s when I tried to read it. I'm now 60...

9BookstoogeLT
Dec 22, 2017, 10:37am Top

>8 Maddz: Are we talking about the same book? Cause the one I'm thinking of was published in 1986. But if you were 30 at the time, I could definitely understand not finishing it.

10Maddz
Dec 22, 2017, 12:15pm Top

Maybe I was 30... Late 80s sounds about right - I remember I was living with my mother when I tried to read it and I moved out in 1990 when I was offered a job out of the area. So, yeah, I must have been around 30.

I have no real objection to YA fiction provided it's well-written and interesting, my memory is that it was neither. I recall Shannara being rather better than Underfall; I actually finished it and I think the 2 sequels as well, but didn't go on reading further instalments. (Apart from anything, they were doorstops and priced accordingly, and as I was surviving on Jobseekers Allowance at the time, I was reliant on what I could turn up in the local charity shops or the library, and for some reason, SFF wasn't popular in the Bournemouth area at the time... The University came in the 1990s.)

11adam.currey
Dec 22, 2017, 5:29pm Top

Thanks very much for your input everyone. Well, it looks like my journey through the Brooks universe will be a short one, stopping after the first book.

A bit of a shame really, as I now have 15 of them! (I picked up 14 at a garage sale last year and then found a copy of The Sword of Shannara so I could start at the start.)

Adam

12AHS-Wolfy
Dec 22, 2017, 7:10pm Top

I think a lot depends for how you feel about these books as to when you read them. If you're quite well read within the fantasy genre then you will find these boring and unoriginal. If you read them while relatively new to the genre then they are quite enjoyable for what they are. I would rank them alongside David Eddings' series as good introductory starters for younger readers.

13BookstoogeLT
Dec 22, 2017, 7:16pm Top

>12 AHS-Wolfy: Good points about them being good intro books for teens.

14Marissa_Doyle
Dec 22, 2017, 7:23pm Top

>13 BookstoogeLT: I'm not so sure--I read Sword of Shannara not long after I'd read LOTR for the first time, and even decades later remember the feelings of righteous indignation that surged within my thirteen-year-old heart at the huge rip-off that the book seemed to me to be.

15anoplph0ra
Dec 22, 2017, 7:32pm Top

>14 Marissa_Doyle:
You must be me. I wrote an angry Amazon review about plagiarism.

16adam.currey
Dec 23, 2017, 5:09am Top

All good points. I didn't realise that Shannara was considered Young Adult, but then, I read both LOTR and The Silmarillion as a teenager..

17Maddz
Dec 23, 2017, 6:48am Top

>16 adam.currey: I read them both in my 20s, but that was because I didn't find them until then. Fantasy was in short supply in my local library (I think it was dismissed as fairy stories for young children), and there was very little Science Fiction. To be honest, most of my teenage reading was from the adult section of the library - I found the children's section to be, well, overly juvenile. I recall reading Frank Yerby, Nevil Shute, Maurice Druon, Georgette Heyer, Sergeanne Golon amongst others (my Mum thought the last was a bit on the smutty side, but didn't raise any great objection once she'd had a chat with the librarian - and also because by that stage I'd been reading D H Lawrence - I recall the dust up when one of my great aunts caught me reading Lady Chatterley's Lover). My reading age was probably at least 2-3 years in advance of my actual age.

When Mum & I were doing some clearing out, we found some boxes of books that my father had left when he moved out. They were mostly war stories (Sven Hassell and the like which got donated to a local charity shop), but in one was a copy of the Ballantine paperback of The Fellowship of the Ring, which I promptly appropriated. I never really looked back.

18Marissa_Doyle
Dec 23, 2017, 9:01am Top

>16 adam.currey: No, I don't think it's considered young adult. It certainly wasn't published as YA. But when I read it at thirteen, when it had just been released, YA didn't exist as it does today. Like >17 Maddz: said, you went from the children's section of the library straight to the adult. Fortunately my dad was a science fiction reader so we were well supplied with Bradbury and Asimov and others at home.

19adam.currey
Dec 25, 2017, 6:42pm Top

Well, I must say, this has been a more interesting conversation than I'd hoped for - thanks everyone.

20BookstoogeLT
Dec 25, 2017, 7:11pm Top

>19 adam.currey: Feel free to start some. I'm always happy to stick in my 2cents worth ;-)

21humouress
Jan 4, 5:47am Top

I read the first Shannara trilogy as a teenager pretty much when they were published and though it’s obviously a Quest (and Allanon could easily stand in for Gandalf) I don’t think I found it too derivative and I did enjoy it. I’d take it over Magic Kingdom for Sale - Sold, though the later Shannara books did seem to get repetitive and the writing style irritated me.

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