I have a confession to make. My favorite fantasy series is not J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Despite knowing many people who hold it up high and knowing that critics laud the book with praise, it is still not my favorite fantasy series. Instead my favorite series is Terry Brook’s Shannara series of books.
It all started with me reading The Sword of Shannara somewhere around 7th grade. I had found the book at my grandma’s, having belonged to my uncle. So I read it and found myself engaged in the world of heroes, magic, and unlikely heroes. Soon after I began to see if there were any other of the books at my grandma’s house. I enjoyed it in a way that I hadn’t when I had tried reading Tolkien’s The Hobbit in elementary school.
Over time I’ve had three versions of the book and read it at least half a dozen times if not actually closer to a dozen. Perhaps it was for this reason that when I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time that I just didn’t become engrossed in it. I read it and enjoyed it moderately, but something about it just didn’t grab me like the Shannara series did.
My lack of ability to enjoy The Lord of the Rings really made me laugh as I realized, when I became older, that many critics disliked The Sword of Shannara because they thought it was copying The Lord of the Rings too much. I had never thought of this before, and while I admit some similarities, there are just as many differences as there are similarities. However, even if it is a copy I find myself liking the copy more than the original.
Perhaps you aren’t too interested in the comparison to The Lord of the Rings and instead want to know what The Sword of Shannara is about. At its heart like many fantasy novels it is a story of the battle between good and evil in the mythological world of the Four Lands. The evil takes form in the Warlock Lord who is the evil threatening to destroy and conquer the Four Lands. However, there is one talisman that can stop him, the titular Sword of Shannara, the only catch is it must be used by a descendant of the Shannara family line, of which there is only one. The half-elf Shea Ohmsford is the last descendant of the Shannara bloodline. So it is up to him and his brother led by the Druid Allanon to find the Sword, use it against the Warlock Lord, and to fight his armies before he destroys those who stand against him.
As I said this is my favorite series of books and this is the one I would recommend starting with. I’m sure you can find it in a local library, but if you’re more of a book buyer you can find it in paperback here or you can buy a hardcover that includes The Sword of Shannara and the two next books in the series The Elfstones of Shannara and The Wishsong of Shannara here.