Thanks to Audbile.com for getting this to us unabridged. Thank god. There is just no point in listening to a book that should be 20 hours, "trimmed" to 3 hours. If this whole series is released unabridged, I'll buy them all.
This is a classic. I'm so pleased its been released at last in unabridged format: When Flick Ohmsford and his brother Shea are visited by the mysterious druid Allanon, their lives change for the worse, as they are hunted across the country by the minions of the evil arch druid and his skull-bearing horde of undead.
While many of the elements in this first book in particular, remind me a bit of Tolkein's classic work, the books have plenty of fun characters. I also really liked the narrator's voice. He did an excellent job! A++++
Like many others I read the Sword of Shannara and the subsequent books in the series many years ago and was happy to see it available in audio format. I have no problems with the similarities of this story to other works of fantasy because there are enough differences in the overall world created by Terry Brooks for this work to stand on it's own merit.
For certain this is typical fantasy fare, the struggle of a heretofore ordinary individual thrust into fighting against the threat of an eternal evil. Scott Brick is an excellent narrator and I am fine with his representation of the characters. I never expected him to present them to me they way I created them in my head so many years ago and his efforts on this series are typical of his work. What I am not fine with is the fact that this book is nothing extraordinary yet it costs twice as many credits as many far superior works of fantasy.
I actualy enjoyed the next 2 books in the series more than this one because after this book Terry Brooks takes things in a more unique direction and those stories are more original. The Elfstones of Shannara for 1 credit is a much better offering than this book for two.
My advice - pick up two better fantasy books for your 2 credits instead of just this one. I am glad that picking up this book allowed me to spend more time with Shea and Allanon; however, if I did not have the bias of my fond memory of reading this book from long ago then I would not feel like those were 2 credits well spent.
This book was one of the first fantasy novels I ever read when I was a kid. Listening to it now I find it to be as fun as I remember. Although now that I'm older and wiser, I can't help but notice the blatant Tolkien themes. I'm not talking about stuff found in every fantasy novel but actual parallel story lines. Those who didn't like the book because of this are missing the point that this is simply a great entertaining tale. On another note: Although I thought Scott Brick was an excellent narrator for Robert Littell's "The Company"; he didn't get into the characters for the Sword of Shannara. Roy Dotrice from George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series would have been better. If you haven't read that series your missing out on the best the genre has to offer.
My biggest annoyance was the constant overly dramatic/snotty inflections that Scott Brick would put into each sentance, each word. I couldn't deal with it and often found myself ignoring the story altogether. I can't tell how many times I was forced to rewind and listen again because suddenly something of actual interest was happening, but I didn't know how we got there. I loved the series and have been reading the books faithfully starting from when I was a young girl. I also am a major fan of LOTR, and I didn't notice how similar the stories were when I was younger. It is interesting how many parallels there are between the books, but it was meant to be the first of a long series of stories. The characters change and the narratives evolve and you grow attached to the story line. I am sad to see that many of the unabridged versions are read by Brick because I really want to listen to them, but I'm not sure I can stomach any more of his nauseating accents and unnecessary inflections. The narrative is enough to let me know that something important is happening, I don't need him raising his voice and acting like a bad rendition of shakespearian play to tell me this. I'm sorry to be ragging on him this much, but it was bad! I wish that they had used multiple voices, like the Phillip Pullman series (excellent excellent excellent!) to narrate. It gives it so much more depth. Luckily for this novel, all of the main characters are men, so at least he has that going for him. Bottom line here is that you really have to be a former fan of the Shannara series to deal with the Scott Brick audio book format. I would suggest newcomers read the book rather than listening.
I'd say that if you are new to this genre, you'll enjoy this book. To me --reading it for the first time in the year 2008--seemed like the storyline was too similar to others in this genre. And there were too many convenient coincidences for my taste. I've heard later books are more interesting so I might give them a try.
Being the first book the writing is a little off and feels like a Tolkien ripoff, but it gets better and Brooks becomes a great great storyteller.
HOWEVER, the narration is absolutely horrible. Scott Brick uses over the top dramatic inflections. He sounds like a bad bad William Shatner mockery, but he is for real. He sounds really snobbish too, it's completely distracting and really ruined the book for me.
Wow, for the first time ever I've found a reader that I actually hate. He gets the tone of the book entirely wrong in nearly too many ways to explain. Here are a few of the highlights:
Most of the time, during dialogue, every character sounds like some snotty stuck-up rich-kid from the "right side of town" talking down to one of the "average folk". In other words, virtually every line is delivered in a condescending tone. It's unbearable.
There is also a tremendous amount of strange, seemingly unnecessary inflection going on throughout the reading. It seems like, possibly, and attempt to "lighten the mood", although I can't tell for sure because it is so strangely delivered. At any rate, it is completely inappropriate for a novel which is largely dark in tone.
Also, the reader appears to mispronounce "Shannara" and "Eventine" rather horribly. Of course, this open to interpretation, but he pronounces them in a way I've never heard anyone else use in discussing the books, so I have some evidence to support my claim....
All in all, I can barely manage to listen to this, not because of the story, but because of the reader.
About the story:
Yes, it is a relatively blatant rip-off of The Lord of the Rings, but it is still a good tale for the young adult reader. The writing is relatively poor, but the story is fun and truly enjoyable. The rest of Terry Brooks' works are not rip-offs, so don't let that put you off.
But for heaven's sake, READ IT yourself, because this reader destroys it completely.
I went into this book fully aware of its reputation as a Tolkien knock-off. That didn't bother me in the least. And it turns out that I find negative comparison to Tolkien unfair and irrelevant.
What actually makes this audiobook unlistenable has nothing to do with its questionable creative origins. It is a combination of gutwrenchingly bad melodrama, death by self-congratulatory exposition, and a narrator who just feels like he's along for the ride.