Strongly inspired by Lord of the Rings, an overworked lawyer took some of his 'spare time' in the late 70s to create a tolkien-esque fantasy story about a post-apocalyptic world. There are two surprises, here. First, he he did what very few authors do. He finished his book! Second, he actually devoted some time to shop it to a publisher. There is, however, no surprise that, once published, the book went to number 1 on the New York times best-seller list.

Terry Brooks was the author and his first book was The Sword of Shannara.

My older brother me the first book when I was in grammar school. He said "A lot of my friends are reading this, so I figured it be at your level." He was right, I was immediately entranced by the Ohmsford's adventures through the southland, eastland, westland, and northland. Everything you'd want from a fantasy book is in here including gnomes, elves, dwarfs, wringwraiths skull bearers, Gandalf The Wizard Allanon the Druid, magic talismans, and a whole lot of action. All these races were formed from what remained of humans after the great wars which almost wiped out the world. In an effort to lose myself in something other than binge drinking, I picked up these books from my past for another read.

In the first book, Allanon (The gandalf Character) shows up at the Shire Shady Vale to convince Frodo and Sam Shea and Flick that they are the heir to the Shannara legacy. Jerle Shannara was an elven king from long ago. Only Shea can wield the Sword of Shannara against the evil of Sauron

They do some travelling and meet up at the dwarf city, where they decide the best way to retrieve the sword from the hands of the enemy is for a small band to sneak in. Two elves, the valemen (Shea and Flick), a dwarf, Allanon, a borderman, and another human go forth. They have a lot of adventures, get lost along the way, meet new people, and eventually Shea finds himself battling the Warlock Lord in the northland while Gnome armies march south. It has a happy ending, relatively.

Since Brook's world is built on top of ours, a few pieces of our technology show up, such as a flashlight (used by the King of The Silver River) and the remenants of a huge skyscraper. There is also some type of "beast" which is half machine. I couldn't figure out exactly what it was, but it sounded like a cross between a tank and a spider. These items don't detract from the fantasy world, however. If anything, they just add to Brook's unique vision. The technological things are never named, only described.

Unfortunately, this book drags at times and the chapters are way too long (often ~50 pages). Terry Brooks had great ideas but is still an amateur author. However, if you like Fantasy and Lord of the Rings, then you'll find a lot to love here. Thankfully, Terry's writing improved tremendously for his second book, the elfstones of Shannara. Fast forward 50 years and Allanon must once again call upon the Ohmsfords. This time, it's Wil, Shea's grandson who must help. Demons are breaking through the Forbidding (a magical prison) and the Ellcrys must be reborn. This book tones down the great explanations of battle in favor of a drastic flight in search of Blood Fire where the Ellcrys can be reborn. This book was a page-turner and I couldn't put it down.

Every step of the way the demons are hot on the trail of Wil and Amberle (the Elven girl who carries the Ellcrys seed). There is a lot of death in this one. And not the death stemming from war (although that happens too). It is the type of "5 people walk into a room and four walk out" death as the demons close in on Wil and Amberle and their shrinking party of Elven protectors. And Wil has problems using the elfstones. Can he regain control? Sure, but there is a price...

And that price is the Wishsong of Shannara. Cursed upon his children, they have magic in their voices. Wish for it, sing for it and you get it. Allanon needs the help of Brin in this third book to defeat the illiad, a living book that is the root of all evil. This book is the shortest of the three, and surprisingly, spends more time on Jair's (Brin's brother) adventures than on Brin. That said, Jair's adventure is much more interesting even if the Druid leaves him behind, adventure seems to find him. He races to perform a task for the King of the Silver River, to stop the pollution of the river, and to ultimately save his sister.

By, this time, Brooks had three books in print and a steady recurring stream. I think he has pushed out a book every year or so since then, many of them in the Land of Shannara. With the success of LOR movies, it's a wonder we don't have a Sword of Shannara coming soon.

I'm moving onto the next Shannara series "Heritage" which comprises of four books (all one story).