The Shannara Chronicles: The Elfstones Of Shannara (book 1) by Terry Brooks (book review).

April 27, 2018 | By | Reply More

There can’t be many fantasy novels with the MTV logo on it, but here I am looking at the 2015 re-release of ‘The Elfstones Of Shannara’ by Terry Brooks, complete with a headline telling me that it’s ‘NOW AN EPIC TV SERIES ON MTV’. Spoiler alert: it was cancelled after two seasons.

‘The Elfstones of Shannara’ is the second book in the ‘Shannara Chronicles’ series following ‘The Lord Of The Rings-lite’, ‘The Sword Of Shannara’. The good news is that this time around, despite the obvious Tolkien influences, this book stands more on its own two feet.

A young lad named Wil Ohmsford has to protect an Elven Princess named Amberle. Elves are they key race in the story as the couple race to stop a Demon incursion into the real world and starting something called the War of Forbidding. As with ‘The Sword Of Shannara’, this is well-paced and rattling fantasy adventure.

Brooks began working on ‘The Elfstones Of Shannara’ after completion of the first novel. He aborted his proposed storyline at the insistence of Lester Del Rey, his publisher and editor at Del Rey books. Brooks listened to his editor and went back and reworked the synopsis until Del Rey was satisfied. ‘The Elfstones Of Shannara’ was published in 1982, becoming another key text in the fantasy surge of the late 70s and early 80s.

On balance, I preferred this novel to its predecessor. The idea of the Ellcrys, trees that protect the world of the Four Lands from the invading Demon horde is a good one, as is the inclusion of the Witch Sisters, Morag and Mallenroh. Brooks presents a fantasy story that is likable enough but, for me, never quite becomes charming.

I don’t think Brooks is a bad writer by any stretch of the imagination. ‘The Elfstones Of Shannara’ succeeds on its own merits. However, the tropes and themes he relies on have been so worn down over the years they can see a little clichéd to the modern reader.

If you didn’t catch this series on Netflix or wherever MTV eventually sold it, then there is much to enjoy in this book. My advice is to put the cliché to one side and enjoy ‘Elfstones’ for what it is, a fantasy yarn that will draw you in and help you pass the time, if maybe not blowing your mind.

John Rivers

April 2018

(pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books, 2015. 564 page paperback. Price: $ 7.99 (US), $10.49 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-101-88605-2)

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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