Book Review: Sword of Shannara Trilogy

We haven’t had a regular book review in a while, so lest we seem ill read, here you go.


The Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks

General Information

Sword of Shannara

Author: Terry Brooks
Original Publication Date: 1978
ISBN: 0-345-31425-5
Cover Price: $7.99 US




of Shannara

Author: Terry Brooks
Original Publication Date: 1983
ISBN: 0-345-28554-9
Cover Price: $7.99 US




of Shannara

Author: Terry Brooks
Original Publication Date: 1988
ISBN: 0-345-35636-5
Cover Price: $7.99 US




of Shannara Trilogy (Complete Set)
Author: Terry Brooks
Original Publication Date: Coming Sept. 2002
ISBN: 0-345-45375-1
Cover Price: $24.50 US




The first book, Sword of Shannara, follows the adventures of Shea Ohmsford
to find and use the titular weapon. He’s an orphan half-elf, whose lineage allows
him to use the powerful blade. The sword is the only weapon that can stop the
Witch Lord, an evil being bent on total domination. Hunted at every turn by
powerful Skull Bearers, and unsure of himself, Shea and his ragtag crew must
trust the mysterious druid Allanon, if they have any chance of saving the Four

In the second book, Elfstones of Shannara, Wil Ohmsford, Shea’s grandson, is
visited by the druid Allanon. Broken and bleeding, he informs the youth of his
destiny, of the three blue stones that carry incredible power, and of the Ellcys,
a magical tree holding back a demon army bent on the slaughter of the elves
and all those that would aid them. Can Wil, with the power of the Elfstones,
restore the Ellcrys and stop the oncoming apocalypse?

With the final book, Wishsong of Shannara, Wil Ohmsford’s children, Jair and
Brin, take up the banner against a new evil. When Wil used the Elfstones, his
body was flooded with magic. As a result, his children now possess magic without
the aid of artifacts, the Wishsong. The Ildatch, a dark tome from an ancient
time (and also created the witch lord) has been recovered and a new order, the
Mord Wraiths, has set about learning its terrible secrets.

High Point

[Spoiler Warning!] One of my favorite pieces is the demon army’s siege of the
elven city. Blends horror, valiant bravery, massive battles, and dwarven engineering.
Does it get any better than that?

Low Point

Brooks is fairly restrictive on the use of magic as most enemies seem to be
able to detect it. As such, the use of it comes in sporadic, if spectacular,

The Scores

In terms of originality, Brooks borrows heavily from Tolkien’s themes.
What scores high points with me is the nature of the sword and other magics.
There is also the subtle use of science blended in with the magic. This theme
will gain in strength as the stories progress. And, while similar, each book
features different characters through the generations, all connected by the
druid Allanon. This keeps the stories fresh, but familiar. 4 out of 6.

Brooks’ imagery is weak in some respects (settings, physical descriptions)
and strong in others. Particularly when it comes to feeling what the character
feels be it pain, pleasure, fear, etc. I’ve often found his descriptions of
fights to be some of the best around. 4 out of 6.

The story (or stories) are well-constructed and thought out. I don’t
know if he planned books 2 and 3 when he wrote them (book 1 can stand by itself
with no problem), but they all flow together. He has a gift for using prophesy
in stories without giving anything away. This same trait shows up again in his
latest trilogy. 6 out of 6.

Characterization is wonderful. Each individual stands out from the rest,
even if they do or say very little, like Allanon. Everyone has a clear motivation
here, no one is simply “along for the ride” as often happens in adventure-party
style stories. 4 out of 6.

The emotional response is terrific. Brooks manages to keep you guessing
from start to finish as to what’s happening next, and what twist of fate he
has in store for our intrepid heroes. Allanon, always a mystery, keeps the reader
trailing, but not in an irritating sort of way. 5 out of 6.

The editing is nearly flawless, particularly since these books were
written between 24 and 14 years ago. After undergoing several printings, you
shouldn’t see a single problem. Brooks always manages to be thinking ahead of
himself and never has to fudge something to make a scene or chapter work. 5
out of 6.

Overall this series is one of my personal favorites, and I recommend
it to anyone looking for a good fantasy read. 5 out of 6.

Total: 33 out of 42

What’s Next?

Well, I’ll post their review soon, but Brooks has continued the Shannara
storyline further with the Heritage
of Shannara
series (four books) and the Voyage
of the Jerle Shannara
trilogy. He also went back in the timeline and wrote
out the story of the Sword’s creation in “First
King of Shannara

Terry Brooks is also known for his Magical
Kingdom of Landover
series and, in 1999, wrote the novelization for Star
Wars: The Phantom Menace

2 replies on “Book Review: Sword of Shannara Trilogy”

  1. Good stories…
    … and really, how cool is the King of the Silver River?

    Oh, and you forgot about everyone’s favorite “Peter Pan’s All Grown Up” movie, “Hook.” Brooks novelized it, and did a decent job on it to boot.

    • Re: Good stories…

      Oh, and you forgot about everyone’s favorite “Peter Pan’s All Grown Up” movie, “Hook.” Brooks novelized it, and did a decent job on it to boot.

      Doh! I completely forgot that one! Thanks!

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