Review: The Sword of Shannara
I have to make a confession. I didn't really enjoy The Fellowship of the Ring. I mean for real that book is long, has way to much poetry, and spends more then half it's length with the hobbits having tea in the house of "He who shall not be named" (ps its Tom Bombadil).
Unsurprisingly a book that uses that story as it's model did very little for me. The Sword of Shannara got my interest because there was going to be a TV version. I don't believe that the show was going to use this book as it's starting point, but I start series at their beginning. Though perhaps that was a mistake.
My primary issue with this story is vagueness. Too often the author leans on the reader's imagination to fill in details that should be full bold pieces of world-building. Too often it seemed like the story was trying to describe something I should be able to recognize without just calling it by the name I know it. As if it was constantly elbowing me in the ribs with a wink and a nod while I looked on totally confused. Often events or characters would pop out of no where and join the story with very little introduction or context beyond a cursory "Oh its YOU!" kind of dialogue from the closest character.
The story never attempts to move itself past the tired path of the Hero's Journey while at the same time committing the worst sin, a boring villain. Our young hero grows in the predictable manner while being tossed into situations well beyond his skills and even understanding while blundering to victory over and over. Meanwhile our primary villain doesn't appear until the last few chapters and so appears only as a sense of existential dread and a terrible name for the majority of the book.
With a cast of characters that splinter up and group together at odd times and for little consequence when we reach the end and suffer casualties, it was difficult to comprehend what we were all doing there in the first place.
Sword of Shannara receives one star out five.