I did not read this when I was in my teens, and I’m afraid my reading experience suffered for that. I hated everything about this book, from the plodding storyline to the writing to the cardboard characters. Nothing worked.
The Sword of Shannara is often written off as a Lord of the Rings copy, and while I didn’t like the book I don’t think that’s especially fair. It absolutely has similarities and I can see where that criticism is coming from, but I don’t think it’s any more similar to Lord of the Rings then say Divergent is to The Hunger Games. The plot is fairly standard, Chosen One goes on quest to defeat dark lord. He has a group of companions that join him along the way. There are dangers and blah, blah, blah.
I found it extremely boring. Not because it’s so derivative but because it’s just badly written. While Brooks was clearly trying to ape Tolkien, he aped all the wrong bits, like the landscape descriptions. I’ve heard people complain about the endless, ENDLESS, landscape descriptions in Tolkien and I’ve always wondered exactly what they were talking about because I don’t remember them being so bad, but there that bad here. Endless blahblahblah about trees. I skimmed PAGES (electronic pages, yes, but still pages) of text trying to get to the next plot point, or speaking place. But for all the endless descriptions there is so much telling and so little showing when it comes to the plot and characters. Also, how many times can you refer to a character by their nationality/race? I mean, who even does that? And not in a nickname kind of way, as a name placeholder. All over the place it’s The Valeman this and the Highlander that. (What’s really funny, is that as soon as I complain about this, The Virginian pops into my head as a novel where that writing technique works. Well it just DOSEN’T here. Ok.)
Now, to be fair, I do think there are some interesting ideas in the book. The idea that this is a post-apocalypse fantasy world is pretty cool. And while the idea that magic is dependent on groupthink is one I’ve seen explored in other places, I like it’s application here. Though I rolled my eyes when the dark lord was
logiced out of existence.
I can understand why someone who encounters this book early in their reading experience might love it, (which is why I tend to forgive very young people who love Eragon) but for me it was just not enjoyable at all.
Teenage me avoided this book, because I’d heard it was a LOTR derivative and I wasn’t really interested. I wish very much I had listened to teenage me, but the combination of The Shannara Chronicles on MTV and the fact that this is February’s book for Sword & Laser convinced me to pick it up. Honestly, I’m a little afraid to pick up my beloved Lord of the Rings (or my favorite of the epic fantasies, The Riddlemaster of Hed) after reading this for fear that it will be hit with the suck fairy.