The Sword of Shannara: The Shannara Series, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
|New from||Used from|
Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
|Free with your Audible trial|
The Sword of Shannara is the first volume of the classic series that has become one of the most popular fantasy tales of all time.
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.
Thus begins the enthralling Shannara epic, a spellbinding tale of adventure, magic, and myth....
- Click above for unlimited listening to select audiobooks, Audible Originals, and podcasts.
- One credit a month to pick any title from our entire premium selection — yours to keep (you'll use your first credit now).
- You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
- $14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel online anytime.
People who viewed this also viewed
People who bought this also bought
Related to this topic
|Listening Length||26 hours and 21 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||December 28, 2003|
|Publisher||Random House Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #3,339 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#134 in Adventure Science Fiction
#278 in Epic Fantasy (Audible Books & Originals)
#356 in Science Fiction Adventures
Reviewed in the United States on October 18, 2022
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Only Shea can control the mystical talisman known as the Sword of Shannara. The magic and myth has so been ingrained in the beliefs and attitudes of the lands and it's people, that only a Shannara heir can now wield the weapon against the Warlock Lord and defeat him. Shea sets out with the aid of his brother Flick, close friend Menion Leah, prince of the nearby city-state of Leah, and new allies, human, Dwarf, and Elf, as well as a mystic named Allanon, to recover the Sword and prevent the Warlock Lord from taking control of the known world.
The Sword of Shannara is a fantasy classic that is also infamous. The novel is the cause of much controversy, to say the least. The book is derided by critics ranging from everyday readers, to “Tolkien scholars” like Tom Shippey, for having “stolen” it's storyline from Tolkien, by “plagiarizing” The Lord of the Rings.
I used to think this way. From my own cursory looks at the text, and my readings of summaries and reviews, I wavered about whether to read the book or not. I kept hearing how good it sounded and the concept is rather interesting. But, I wondered to myself, if it's just a knockoff of Tolkien's Middle Earth cosmology, then what's the point of wasting time on it?
I finally read the book, and I must say that I wonder who in the world calls this a “knockoff” or “plagiarism” of The Lord of the Rings? Are there similarities in characters and settings? Yes, there are. But so what?! Does that really matter? Tolkien's work, and C. S. Lewis' for that matter, are so influential and popular, that they have become a part of our culture. Of course, such stories and themes will influence later literary and cinematic works.
For those who think that I am giving Brooks too much of a pass, well, I can most certainly understand the criticism. The author does does rely a tad too much on the use of the basic storyline of LOTR as a template. Sword might have been a better work had it not been so very derivative of Tolkien's work. But the book is so different after the first two hundred pages, that, despite the small continuing similarities, Sword takes on it's own, distinct, feel.
I admit that I became annoyed at the way that the books dovetailed with each other too heavily at times, but I am more lenient for three reasons. First of all, as already pointed out, the elements of the two books that are in common, are overblown. The similarities are there, yes, but the differences are more than enough to make the Terry Brooks' story it's own separate tale.
The second reason is that the books are very different afterward. Sword, and the rest of the Shannara series, is far more original than people think at first glance, and the different history which was hinted at several times in Sword is later fleshed out even further. The “Four Lands” becomes a vivid, separate place with it's own mythology. I know this not only from what I have read about the rest of the books in the series, but from having read one myself. Years ago, long before I had read LOTR, heard of Sword, or heard of the withering criticism leveled against it.
A large part of this narrative which is spoken of in this book, and expanded upon in later works, is the identity and location of the world. The Four Lands is our world, not in the past, but in the future. At first, there were only two species of Men. The regular humans, and the magical Elves that predated Men, and lived in hidden realms in nature that were unknown except for in various folklore accounts.
Then the “Great Wars” came, as the characters in the books call them. In these conflagrations, a combination of conventional armed conflict, and what is implied to be the use of thermonuclear weapons, results in most of the known world being obliterated. Only the Four Lands which seem to be based around the Pacific Northwestern United States where author Terry Brooks lives, seems to have survived. Besides the Elves and faerie creatures, the Humans were divided into several groups. There were humans who escaped the holocaust unchanged, and there were other groups who underwent physical changes and mutations as a result of the nuclear energies loosed upon the world. These were named after vaguely-remembered creatures from the various legends in the pre-holocaust world. Such creatures as Dwarfs, Gnomes, or Trolls, for instance, among other groups.
As is readily seen, the author took a great deal of time putting thought into how to make the world he was creating his very own, and not just a carbon-copy of Middle Earth. Robert Jordan similarly used a Tolkienesque influence to tell a story occurring after a cataclysmic event that nearly destroyed the world. So have other authors. Terry Brooks was the first, and paved the way, for which he deserves credit.
The final reason that I am lenient on the sometimes all too-closely mirrored plot-lines in the works is that Terry Brooks did a great service to the genre of fantasy. So many tales are based in part on Tolkien's Middle Earth cosmology. To be sure, many of these works were a tad too derivative of LOTR, but not all. Ranging from some of David Eddings works (which I don't recommend, by the by) to the first book of The Wheel of Time series (which I do recommend), and others. There are great stories that would have received blistering attacks, and perhaps not have been tried, had The Sword of Shannara not been published and received the most withering of such attacks first. After Brooks, fairly or not, (I say unfairly) no one else is seen as so unfairly close, except maybe Eragon or some others.
Don't get me wrong, The Sword of Shannara does not hold a candle to The Lord of the Rings, or many of the books in Jordan's Wheel of Time series. The quality of writing is not as developed here, nor does it have the poetic beauty of Tolkien's. For that matter, the book is full of fantasy cliches. Every cliché that was developing in fantasy since Tolkien first published LOTR was stuffed in here. The author perhaps overused various fantasy conventions. He did use them well, however, it should be noted. It wasn't as refined as the works of Jordan and especially Tolkien, but it was and is a fun read. But none of this should really matter. Sword is not being judged compared to Tolkien.
If we judged that way, almost no book would ever be able to rise to a high level of literary value or entertainment. The point of a proper critique is to judge the book on it's own merits. Judge it for what it is, in other words, not what it is not. It is perfectly fine to mention, as I have, where the book could be improved via a comparison to a better work, but not to degrade the story due to it's not being said work. Judge the work for what it is, and then you find the true worth of the story. By that standard, The Sword of Shannara is a fun fantasy tale. One that is well worth reading.
Years later, after rereading Katherine Kurtz's Deryni Chronicles on Kindle, I recalled "The Sword of Shannara" -- aware that it had become a bit of a cottage industry -- and looked for it on Amazon. I became hesitant about rreading it, as I said above, after reading some of the blistering criticisms of it on this site, most of which were based upon the similarites between this and "Lord of the Rings." I don't like wasting my time on bad books, and if I were to believe some of the reviews, I might have had to endure such a close ripoff of Tolkien that the characters might be named "Frudo Buggins," "Gindolf," or "Scowron." I feared that much of an imitation.
I pushed forward and purchased the book and was more than pleasantly surprised. Of course the book borrows some of the benchmarks of "Lord of the Rings," just as Tolkien, a linguist and literature expert, borrowed archetypes from classic epics, ballads, and folklore. Yes, there's a pair of innocent types who undertake a great quest, there are elves, there is an ovewhelming, ominous presence, and a crazed, obsessed, pathetic little character who briefly comes into posession of an important talisman, but when you look deeper, the comparisons begin to fade. For example, Allanon, the wizard-like leader of the group, is far darker than the fatherly Gandalf; Hendel is a much more rounded character than Gimli; the Warlock King is a far different person than the omnipresently evil Sauron. And the tone of the story and set of adventures undergone by the chaacters is farther from Tolkien than you might imagine.
I am not dismissing the similarities. Brooks himself has admitted to them. There are plenty of points of reference between the two works. But the charges of "imitation" and near-plagiarism are simply not accurate.
I have more of a problem with the unevenness of the writing style. Brooks picks and chooses when to describe things. We have a good description of the "thing" that attacks Flick and Shea in the marsh early on. We know how the Warlock King looks; we can visualize Allanon; we can see Balionor's city and the details of the final battle. But the description of the mysterious beast that attacks the travellers in the ruins of an ancient city is horribly inadequate -- what does he mean when he says it's a mass of metal, flesh, hair, etc.? And there are too many times where he seems to be giving the Cliff's Notes versions of the journey -- they walked, and talked, and got to know each other; they escaped by making the goblins think they were being attacked -- in other words, I'd like to know what was said, what was done, that type of thing. And another reviewer spoke of Brooks's habit of summarizing the story every two or three pages.
However, these quibbles really didn't get in the way of my enjoyment of the novel. As frustrated as I might get with the style, I was invested enough in the story and the characters to continue. I would certainly recommend this to others.
Top reviews from other countries
It's not a poor book or poorly written but it's just too similar to Lord of the Rings and I just couldn't get away from that.
I hope I can revisit at a later date as I'm sure the saga will be worth it in the end.
Sadly I persevered 2 thirds through. No female characters except 2 thirds through who was a pretty pink princess character. The most important character goes AWOL halfway through book.
For fantasy I recommend Stephen Donaldson's first trilogies.