Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Sword of Shannara (The Original Shannara Trilogy #1)

The Sword of Shannara (The Original Shannara Trilogy #1)
author: Terry Brooks
name: Wayne
average rating: 3.77
book published: 1977
rating: 3
read at: 2016/03/06
date added: 2016/03/06
shelves: sword-and-laser
As a reader, they tell you not to reread books you cherished as a child, so I felt pretty safe when my book club picked 'The Sword of Shannara' by Terry Brooks. I remember liking the book, but not having much more impression than that. I wondered how myself as an older reader would react.

At the time the book was published I was an early teen and heavily into SF. I primarily liked science fiction, but occasionally delved into fantasy. The grandfather of epic fantasy was (and still is) Lord of the Rings, and I devoured it, along with any Robert Howard stories. I also liked the Fafhrd and the grey mouser stories by Lieber. When 'The Sword of Shannara' arrived, it promised the sort of epic storytelling that I wanted more of after reading Tolkien. Since I also picked books based on page length, I like the massive 700 page book. It also included some full page paintings by the Brothers Hildebrandt who had put out Tolkien calendars.

The problem with wishing for more of something is the need to make comparisons. The new thing can only hope to measure up, and this book felt a bit like a tarnished copy. I still remember devouring it, but while I bought the next book, I don't remember finishing it.

It's a first book, and has it's flaws. For it's time, it feels right, but by today's standards, it doesn't have the sarcasm or violence that we've come to expect. Also, in the entire 700 pages, there is only one female character, and she is there simply to be rescued. My younger self didn't seem to have a problem with this, but my older self does.

So, do we judge a book based on it's time, or how it holds up? Do we unfairly compare it to ideals it can't hope to attain or the feelings it gave us a younger and first time reader?

It's a long book, and the word 'valeman' appears much too often (also the word 'stocky'), but for it's time it gave me more of what I wanted. I enjoyed my reread, and judging by the number of books in the series at this time, someone out there must really like it. I've read later works by Terry Brooks, and, thankfully, his writing improved. I've met him and he's a nice man, and gets trashed way too much by fandom for simply giving us more of what we wanted.

Be careful what you wish for, dear reader. You just might get it.

via Wayne's bookshelf: read

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