Top critical review
Terry and his publishers mislead fans of the series
Reviewed in the United States on November 18, 2020
I've been reading the Shannara books since the 70's. Now in my 50's and I have read them all, most within days of release. Sadly, finishing this series is literally a life-long disappointment. Stop reading here to avoid spoilers for the series and the book.
Terry wrote Shannara starting with the Sword of Shannara in 1977 with amazing action, massive world-building, page-whipping suspense and riveting detail. After a few series, and over the course of several years, he very subtly integrated the world of Shannara into our world. It was genius the way he dropped hints of the 'Old World's' existence, hinting at a massive backstory which indicated the genesis of the Shannara universe. He then embarked on a parallel series (Word and Void) taking place in our modern day, seemingly a completely separate literary endeavor. Imagine our surprise when we learned that the Word and Void series was the pre-cursor to the Shannara world. Incredible! And once that cat was out of the bag, another phase in the series which seamlessly wove them together. In all, there were many, many books to follow this journey over the course of years of our lives.
Imagine our excitement when we learn that Terry is getting ready to wrap up the Shannara saga. Who can blame him? After all this work world-building, it was time to perhaps slow down, wrap it up, move onto something else.
We were all expecting a 2-3 book massive conflict, a re-visiting of the themes and characters of the past clashing with a new world-threatening event which would usher us to the final apocalypse, from which we knew the world of Shannara was finally at an end, and the world is brought into a completely new age. Terry let us know he needed FOUR books to write this massive world-changing story. How Exciting!!
This is what we got:
- 4 books jam packed of meaningless side-plots having nothing to do with the theme of the series. This should have been a 2-book side quest story in the vast Shanarra universe.
- Deux-ex-Machina plot resolutions galore. The one wrapping up the literal cliff-hanger had me cringing in embarrassment for Terry and his editors.
- Formulaic reading and repetitive exposition.
- The "Fall of Shannara" -- no, Shannara is just fine, never better. Another happy ending to another adventure.
- "The Last Druid" -- no, we close out the book with TWO druids! And a vague ending which practically guarantees Brooks another Shannara paycheck should he ever want to squeeze one out.
Make no mistake, this was a decent, if rinse-and-repeat Shanarra story. A fitting end to a 40-year saga? No way.
Maybe I'm just old and jaded. Or maybe, I'm 40 years older now and my expectations are too high and I've outgrown Terry Brooks. Either way, he could have done much better, and instead took the lazy way out.