‘The Sword of Shannara’, T. Brooks

“We build too many walls to be completely honest with ourselves.”

I was quite honestly disappointed by this book because I thought it might have some original ideas and a sense of promise about it, but all I could actually see was a low-level copy of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Nearly the entire setup was highly similar, starting with the unknown-to-the-world young chap being magically able to solve the problems for the entire world. Everyone goes on a journey, there’s the dodgy dwarf, an elf or two, a few men who are both competent warriors, and then the old wise sage (who is grumpy at times).

What we are missing, however, is the friendliness and pipe-smoking of Gandalf, the sense of history that Boromir brought with himself, and the feelings of the Hobbits. Of, yes, these things *try* to be present — but Allanon is not Gandalf, Balinor not Boromir/Aragorn, and Shea/Flick are most definitely not any of the Hobbits. Even so, we get an (epic) journey through an interestingly created world (well, it could be interestingly created if it did not follow the standards for fantasy world generation).

What I also find lacking is the sense of beauty and magic that Mr Tolkien managed to weave with his words and sentences — and he was not afraid of describing items, moments, or scenes. Mr Brooks, however, seems to be quite afraid of any of this. Most descriptions that we encounter are rather non-descript, and a journey which lasts for months in the original is cut down into a matter of a few weeks — truly, the fact that a travel of two days in any direction pretty much seems to give you the possibility of ending up in the other end of the world also takes rather much away from the scale of what we had here.

Now when I think back at it, there is not really much to go for this book — it might be that the rest of Mr Brooks’ created world is better, and who knows, I might be reading another Shannara story someday soon. But until that time, if I wanted a less-than-perfectly drawn out LotR-style book, I would revisit the Inheritance cycle and finish that — at least I could not predict everything so very easily there. And the descriptions were better.

Or I could just go with the good old grand master himself. But that makes me wonder — aside from Earthsea, Mr Feist, and most of Ms Hobb’s created worlds, what fantasy masterworks remain to be discovered for me…

“The whole journey had been premised on half dreams and old legends, not on common sense, and suddenly to decide it was time to be practical once again was indeed a ludicrous idea.”

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