The Sword of Shannara
By Terry Brooks (© 1977)
Read by Scott Brick. 2003 Books on Tape, Inc.
Unabridged 17 cassettes, List price: $144, available for $115. I paid $40 on eBay
Obviously, The Sword of Shannara is a simplified rehash of themes, characters and even some events from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit without Tolkien's incredible created universe and wonderful use of language.
We might call Brooks the American Tolkien. He's a faster, cheaper, simpler Tolkien.
However, I must remove myself from the claims that this book is derivative of Tolkien. The issue now is: should I listen to the book? The answer is: yeah, why the hell not?
If you loved LOTR, you'll like The Sword of Shannara.
The universe of SoS is the far future of our world. A technological holocaust has devastated the earth and has altered men into races called Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, etc. They are still men, though. Man has forgotten science, but he has learned the secrets of the spirit world and an evil dark lord whose name is not Sauron has risen again to threaten the peace of the developing civilizations. An ancient Druid (not a wizard) whose name is not Gandalf takes a short non-hobbit person with his trusty sidekick on a dangerous quest to find the stolen Sword of Shannara.
There are long passages of back-story in the first three or four chapters. The plot still manages to pull the reader along to an action filled ending. Some of the characters are well crafted. A one armed thief and a Troll with a heart of gold are very well done and have no equivalent in LOTR. Terry Brooks, from past readings, takes a while to warm up. His novels begin slowly and build up to a satisfying ending.
I just finished The Sword of Shannara this morning on my way to work, and I could think of worse ways of spending 22 hours of commuting time. The reader, Scott Brick, uses a variety of interesting accents to help keep the characters straight. He has done a very good job, making a so-so book into a good listen.
The first tape is broken and I have to repair it. Ward, my brother, gets it next. Anyone else want to sign up for a listen?