Publisher's Note:  

Living in peaceful Shady Vale, Shea Ohmsford knew little of the troubles that plagued the rest of the world. Then the giant, forbidding Allanon revaled that the supposedly dead Warlock Lord was plotting to destory the world. The sole weapon against this Power of Darkness was the Sword of Shannara, which could only be used by a true heir of Shannara--Shea being the last of the bloodline, upon whom all hope rested. Soon a Skull Bearer, dread minion of Evil, flew into the Vale, seeking to destroy Shea. To save the Vale, Shea fled, drawing the Skull Bearer after him....

The Sword of Shannara

by Terry Brooks

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Overall Review:  

The Sword of Shannara will likely appeal to readers of Eragon and fans of Robert Jordan and/or Brandon Sanderson. It is an epic fantasy with a fairly good sense of world and some interesting people to journey with.

The main character, Shea Ohmsford, is a relatable character. Adopted son of an innkeeper, he has no interest in the world outside his own backyard. But the arrival of a mysterious Druid plunges him into a life-altering adventure, where he is the only one who can defeat an enemy intent on taking over the world. Shea has no choice but to accept his destiny, or face certain death at the hands of his enemy's servants.

The story is told in a very omniscient voice, darting from one point of view to another in the space of a paragraph. It can make the characters feel a bit distant, and there is a lot of telling rather than showing. There are some convenient "information dump" scenes that can drag on a bit, and there is excessive use of adverbs and adjectives. (For example, most characters will say something quickly, or laugh sharply, or stop suddenly. Characters will also be described as "the taciturn dwarf" or "the reckless highlander" or "the reluctant elf.") The writing can feel a bit verbose, saying more than it needs to without really moving the story along, and there do seem to be a lot of repetitive scenes, with characters being chased, hunted, and pursued many times throughout the book. There are numerous recollections of old wars being mentioned, and a lot of battles and fights.

I would not recommend this book for readers of The Lord of the Rings, as The Sword of Shannara draws heavily from Tolkien's work, with scenes and creatures that feel as though they were plucked directly from Middle-earth. That being said, if one is in the mood for battles, good vs. evil situations, and a motley company of interesting characters, this book will entertain.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  3 religious profanities; 2 derogatory names. 

Violence/Gore:  Many instance of violence and frightening scenes. These include, but are not limited to: characters are hunted; talks and discussions of war; characters repeatedly flee for their lives; characters battle fantasy creatures; in a few instances, characters are taken captive; there are some extensive battle scenes; characters are wounded; characters journey through life-threatening lands; there is a frightening scene in magically guarded halls; characters frequently fight for their lives; characters are betrayed; the enemy is sometimes rather uneasily described and/or mentioned; some instances of battlefield violence, not overly graphic; some natural disasters occur; characters experience death.

There is a conflict in the middle of the book that is perhaps a little more graphic for readers. The author will occasionally be more vivid in his descriptions and it can be disturbing, especially in this scene where there is a pretty ferocious battle and a character is described as falling over the edge of a pit while grappling with another character. There are a few other instances where the descriptions might be a little more disturbing for the reader, especially in the final battle. The violence is mainly described in a restrained way, but some of the descriptors, such as the color of the water after the fighting is over or a character's reaction to the many deaths caused by this battle, might be uncomfortable to read. 

Sex/Nudity:  Two characters remove their clothes to ford a stream (both male, not sexual); male character changes while a female character looks away; two characters hold hands; male character leans agains a female character; male character embraces a female character; character professes love to another character; character bathes (not sexual); characters link arms; character thinks of the woman he loves; character faces unwanted love; two characters sit together; two characters profess love, touch and caress (brief, not suggestive); characters are described stripped of armor and clothing; female character comforts a male character.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Forced marriage, death, ritualistic prayers to gods, discussions of marriage, battles, fantasy violence, murder.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Characters frequent bars; character owns an inn; characters drink beer; characters drink wine; characters drink ale; characters are said to be "drinking on duty"; characters are drugged/poisoned to madness and/or death.

Reviewed By Katrina
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