©1977 Terry Brooks; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc.
This book borrows heavily from better books--the plot overlaps with Lord of the Rings practically enough to warrant a lawsuit. I almost wondered if the author was purposefully trying to copy Lord of the Rings to make some sort of artistic statement, but I don't think he was, which just makes him a plagiarist. Also, I think I would have enjoyed this book more in print because hearing the horrible writing in my ear for 24 hours only made the awkward prose more noticeable. I rolled my eyes on more than one occasion and probably would have given up on the entire book if I weren't on a long bus trip. So, listening to this book was better than staring out a window and listening to babies cry and people talk on their cell phones...but it was a close call.
How great to find an unabridged audio version of one of my fav books of all time... for all of you new to the fantasy genre who are noticing the parallels to "The Lord of the Rings," keep in mind that when Terry Brooks started out there really wasn't much else in fantasy genre! While his later books show his growth as an author and the expansion of his imagination, this one has merit in its unique approach to history (post apocalyptic Elves! Wow) and the fact that it began a saga that even now continues generations later. Of course, I'm probably biased, as this book was an old friend when I was growing up... but I'm betting if you give it a listen while overlooking the obvious LotR influence, you'll enjoy it for its own merit.
I've tried re-reading the paper version of the Sword of Shannara several times since I first read it in middle school, and the book has always seemed to drag so much that no matter how hard I can't finish these re-reads. Despite my hopes this did not change with the audiobook--it was just as boring and monotonous as the paper version. What really got me with this 'read,' however--since I was expecting it might drag--is how much the book lacks consistency and believeability. The narration or characters say something in an early part of the book, and then the characters do or say things in later parts that contradict this. The main characters have staunch opinions on concepts like government and society that you would expect from a scholar-taught, despite the fact that before the book they've never been more than a two-nights' journey from their small village, are the sons of an inkeeper, and grew up in a world where books are described as rare, precious things. I understand this was Brooks' first book when he was young, but I can't wonder whether his editor gave him any criticism at all, for all the inconsistencies.
Absolutely not. Fantasy can be an amazing genre, and while Brooks doesn't represent it well in this particular book, there are books of his that do, not to mention the many other fantastic storytellers in the Fantasy genre.
Quite honestly, out of the fifty or so audiobooks I've listen to, this was the worst narration I've heard thus far. It might very well have put the definition to "melodramatic." And, as others have mentioned, the characters' speech and thoughts were virtually indistinguishable from the narrative text unless followed up or preceeded by cues from the text. I had hoped that the audiobook would take out some of the lull of the middle parts of the part that always lost me when reading hard copies, but if anything the fact that Scott Brick's tone has two styles, "melodramatic" or "obscenely melodramatic," might have made those parts worse than in the paper copy. It certainly destroyed any parts of the book that were well-written. I'm disgusted by the fact that the unabridged version of the next book in the series is also Scott Brick--it was always one of my favorites in the Shannara world, but I simply cannot listen to another book with this narrator.
I would recommend who hasn't already given Brooks' other books a try do so. While this one was certainly a disappointment to me--and seeing the comments, many others--I quite enjoyed the paper copies of many of the other Shannara books.
From Austen to zombies!
The Sword of Shannara is a fantasy book and a quest story, and as such contains many fantasy conventions: elves, druids, a magic sword, a journey, monsters, battles, perils.
Comparisons to Tolkien are perhaps inevitable, but certainly not necessary. Brooks's work stands on its own.
Enjoy The Sword of Shannara for its characters: each has a fully-realized story arc, from protagonist Shea Ohmsford, to his brother Flick, to their friend the Prince of Leah. Even the wise druid Allanon grows and changes over the course of the story.
Enjoy The Sword of Shannara for its action: the various perils are fast-moving, exciting, and original. Brooks keeps the tension going with hair's-breadth escapes and fast thinking by the characters.
Enjoy The Sword of Shannara for its dialogue: the characters speak naturally, in English that never sounds like bad Shakespeare. Dialogue is a particular gift of Brooks's, one that Scott Brick's narration deftly showcases.
Enjoy The Sword of Shannara for its world: the story takes place on Earth, far in the future, after the Old Race of Man (that's us) has blown itself up. The several races that now populate Earth are different, but have equal purchase in the world and can choose to work together--or not, although not working together is at their peril.
Finally, enjoy The Sword of Shannara for the story. The unabridged version is pretty long, but fun to listen to by yourself or with the whole family. It's always engaging and unlike many modern fantasy series it's never "pulp" in tone. And you do get the whole story. There is no overcomplicated backstory here, and you never have to run for a "companion" to figure out who's whom.
You don't need a degree in Literature to enjoy this book--although I do have one, I don't want to put it to use every time I pick an audiobook. Relax and have fun with Terry Brooks's excellent storytelling!
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.
This is finally release as unabridged! I have read 1000 books in the last 4 years and this is one I read every few years - again and again. This book and the prequel (first king) are his best work, then elfstones.
I purchased the Shannara Series. Now I wish, I had not. I got to the point I was skipping chapters and felt I had not missed anything of any importance’s in the book. I have never done that in the several hundred audible books I have.
The narrator did a fine job. The story just seem to drag on and on and on.
Tell us about yourself!
The performance, lacked distinguisihing voice inflections. It was difffiutl to konw who whas talking if hte auther did not designate who was apeaking. It all has the same tone and sound.
This would be 3.5 stars if that were available. Its a great adventure with plenty of interesting characters. It has a thought provoking back story, that leads into a gripping tale. At times it felt a little too much like a condensed lord of the rings. That feeling had me looking forward to a continuation of the tale, but the next story in this trilogy is 2 generations later.
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