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Publisher's Summary

Long ago, the wars of the ancient Evil ruined the world. In peaceful Shady Vale, half-elfin Shea Ohmsford knows little of such troubles. But the supposedly dead Warlock Lord is plotting to destroy everything in his wake. The sole weapon against this Power of Darkness is the Sword of Shannara, which can be used only by a true heir of Shannara. On Shea, last of the bloodline, rests the hope of all the races.
©1977 Terry Brooks; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc.

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  • Story

Fun, entertaining read despite my rating.

Would you try another book from Terry Brooks and/or Scott Brick?

Yes, to both the author and the narrator. This was the first book that I've experienced by either one of them. I think Scott Brick did a fine job with the story. I probably would've rated it higher, but the nature of the story didn't really allow him to shine as a narrator in my opinion. As far as Terry Brooks goes, I found this to be too much like a "For Dummies" retelling of Lord of the Rings. Despite that, I don't think he's a terrible writer. If I'm not mistaken, this is his first book, right? I'm interested to see how he has evolved over 40 years as a writer.

What do you think your next listen will be?

I think my next listen will be the second book of David Anthony Durham's epic fantasy, The Other Lands, from his Acacia Trilogy. I listened to/read the first book at the same time as this book. Even though I had a lot of fun with this book, I enjoyed that book stylistically more than this one. Reading this was more like watching a terrible movie that you can't help but love anyway. I do plan to continue this trilogy soon, but I'd like to complete Durham's first because it's a far more compelling story for me.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Scott Brick?

Of course! I had no problem at all with his narration. At times, I did find it a bit sterile and nondescript, but as I mentioned, I think that's more because of the nature of the book itself and not the narrator's fault.

Do you think The Sword of Shannara needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

It's an epic adventure story set in its own world and all epic adventure stories need a follow-up. It's fun to explore more in the world the writer has created, to get an even better taste of the people, the land, the culture of the stories.

Any additional comments?

While I wasn't bowled over by this (I can be so wishy-washy about fantasy, especially in this vein), this was a palatable enough experience for me and fit well within my expectations for it. I had fun with it. Will I finish this trilogy? I think perhaps I will. I was entertained, and there's nothing more that I could ask for from this book. I don't need savant-like brilliance from a story to be entertained.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Patrick
  • ETTERS, PA, United States
  • 05-21-13

Weak story, even weaker narration

What disappointed you about The Sword of Shannara?

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.

Has The Sword of Shannara turned you off from other books in this genre?

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.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

13 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good for newbies

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.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Painful Prose and Unoriginal Plot

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.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

One of the best fantasy books of all time

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.

29 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

One Sword to Rule Them all....

Nearly all fantasy books borrow from Lord of the Rings, at least a little. But this book is a blatant rip-off. Were you replace the ring with a sword replace a hobbit with a village idiot, you are 90 percent of the way there.

A village knave finds a relic of immense power and it is the only thing that can defeat the powerful bad guy. But he has to bring it to the distant, evil land far away. Fortunately, he has a somewhat surly wizard companion to travel with him. Along the way, he meets adventuring companions. One of them is a human who is the heir to a kingdom. Oh look, elves and dwarves too. But alas! They are pursued by dark-cloaked wraith-like beings.

Can our humble hobb...err village boy continue on his quest despite being seperated from his able-bodied protectors? Can he throw his sword into the volcano from when... no, wait. Can he stab the big bad guy with it?

I would recommend this story only to someone under the age of 13 who doesn't have the attention span to make it through the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This is the same story, but squeezed into one book instead of three.

12 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Alicia
  • Shenandoah Junction, WV, USA
  • 07-18-05

Hurray for old favorites

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.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I bought this book excited to listen since I'm a fan of the genre and looking for something I haven't heard. But overall I was disappointed. Too many parallels to Tolkien, lack of character depth, lack of mystery, and WAY too much of "this is how they're feeling" for me. Don't explain everything outright, let the reader put themselves into it. Anyway, well written I guess, but not for me. I could have forgiven it if it wasn't for the many Tolkien parallels.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lesley
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 06-04-06

Stands on its own--a fun, classic story

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!

10 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • CT, United States
  • 06-27-14

Not as good as I hoped.

Would you try another book from Terry Brooks and/or Scott Brick?

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful