©1977 Terry Brooks; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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++++
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.
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!
I had to write a review on this book because I disliked it so much. I already knew it stole elements from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I thought I would like it since I love the Lord of the Rings. Instead, I loathed this book because of how poorly it is written. The characters are so shallow and poorly constructed that I really wished they would die when in the most perilous of circumstances. The plot elements were incredibly artificial and forced. It was too unbelievable, and I don't mean a world where trolls, gnomes and elves live, but rather the way in which the author constructed tension.
When the protagonists are chasing the antagonists, everything stops them from catching the antagonists including miraculous disappearing from a closed room (how does that happen?). And, similarly, when the protagonists are in the most dire of situations, somebody at the last second comes to the miraculous rescue.
I'm not a book snob by any means and I love so many different types of books - even those books that people say are really bad or cliche. But THIS book is the single most frustrating book I have EVER read or listened to. Any emotion was insincere and empty and the characters are such complete idiots. Who rushes into a battle and then, after it's too late, realized they forgot to pick up their sword? Who sits there and watches a ferocious battle between two people you fear above all others after being told to run (along with the rest of the group) and find the object of your long quest? Nobody but the most brainless, idiotic people would do the things that these characters do, and I'm supposed to like them?
A book in the same genre as this is Fred Saberhagen's "Empire of the East". I LOVED that book and would recommend that you get that book instead of this one. For your own health, stay away from the Sword of Shannara series!
"A Rival to Gandalf"
The story unfolds slowly to begin with - but builds up the characters and lets you get to know a little about them before you are plunged into this new world. Shades of the Nazgul and Fanghorn Forest are also in this story which parallels LOTR like all this genre to some degree. Never the less, it becomes more and more gripping the further you get into the story as you become intimately involved in the characters lives.
Gandalf's alter ego in this book, the Druid Alanon, disappears with regularity, but reappears as necessary and usefully resolves outstanding questions the listener may have in a roundup at the end of the tale. The time passed quickly during this long book, and enjoyably - recommended.
I am a long time fan but the narration is wrong so wrong.
Secrets, action, life, and escapism.
Change the narrator -perhaps English.
Not to listen to any more of the series until the narrator is changed.
Why spoil such a fantastic story with inappropriate narration, is there no judging system?
The presentation by the narrator was top draw, able to listen whilst doing others things
A truly epic story, had everything from action, suspense to character development for all main characters.
Scott's narration creates a vivid picture from his words, allows you to visualise the world that Terry Brooks created in your mind.
"Very good, but a bit long"
For his first fantasy novel Terry Brooks really went to town with SoS. It is huge. Comparisons with LotR are easily made, but this book has none of the classic feel of LotR. And keeps the folklore to a minimum. I really liked the concept of how the sword works, but you have to wait until the final few chapters of the book to find this out. I don't know if it is the narrator or just the way the book is written. But it did bug me a bit with the repeated use of words like 'undisguised amazement'. And how sudden contradictions are thrown in one after another in battles and other action sequences. These are minor gripes though and if you are ready for a book of epic proportions this will do nicely.
"Basically Lord of the Rings Retold"
Other reviewers have mentioned the similarities between this book and the Lord of the Rings. I would go father and say its basically just the same story with names and locations changed. A bit of a rip-off really but still quite enjoyable if predictable.
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