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The Sword of Shanarra / The Elfstones of…
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The Sword of Shanarra / The Elfstones of Shanarra

by Terry Brooks

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The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks (1984)
  whitespiraldancer | Sep 14, 2013 |
A quite clever idea completely spoiled by some very poor writing. In places, just once or twice, it is good, in a few others, absorbing, the remaining thousand or so pages, drag horrendously. This is possibly the worst example of telling rather than showing that I've ever read, but fortunetly the inventiveness of the world (rather than the plot) raises it someway above being the very worst fantasy book I've ever read.

Plot - A Magic Trinket is required to overcome a Big Bad Guy. You can already guess that a Quest is required to find it. There will be a boy and a girl and an old wise man who does magic. There are. Because this is an omnibus with the sequel the plot is repeated. Almost identically. No-body of any conesquence dies. Even when they really really should. But then there is hardly anybody of consequence in the book. There is no character development at all. Barely any characters, just wooden people cast without emotions, dialogue or any but he most limited actions. Even so it is possible to write and entertain the reader in this manner - but the action centric plot must be really dynamic and thunder along page tearingly. This doesn't. The action spurts along in fits and pauses, and introspection (ish) and lots of exposition, followed by another dribble of action adn more exposition. Finally there are a few consecutive pages of action before more pages of exposition wrapping it all up, and ensuring all the characters get the happy ending they deserve.

The leading character in both books is a Druid called Allanon because he goes on and on. Few of the other characters carry over. Allonan unfortunetly doesn't have any character at all, or action, and is merely called upon to set people on a path before he fades unmysteriously back into the shadows. The only interest is the world story - Set on Earth after a cataclysm has destroyed mankind's science and technology. Man just about survived and splintered into man, gnomes, dwarves and Trolls - all still human, but shaped by the lands they grew in, and named after the faerie races they resembled. Only the Elves existed unique and isolate. Much more could have been doen wih this fascinating concept but instead it is just grafted onto a standard pasterol fantasy world. The biggest sin o all is that there is no continuity in the towns, no thoughts at all at how they would survive except as places for the heros to pass through.

The Elfstones works much better, than the Sword and has fewer of the faults, but they are all still present. Although this is a vastly famous series, it is even worse than Eddings, and a very poor introduction to how fantasy can be written by artists such as Tolkein, Donaldson, Wurts or Cherryh (or many many others). Go and read them, leave this derrivative dreck alone. ( )
  reading_fox | Mar 10, 2011 |
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