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First King of Shannara PDF, ePub eBook Outcast by the Druids for his devotion to the forbidden art of Magic, Bremen discovers that dark forces are on the move, led by the Warlock Lord, Brona. If the peoples of the Four Lands are to escape eternal subjugation, they must unite. But they need a weapon, something so powerful that the evil Magic of Brona will fail before its might.

30 review for First King of Shannara

  1. 5 out of 5

    seak

    I read this a while ago, but all I remember is that the old adage, "show don't tell," was completely disregarded. Everyone was described as being ever so evil, good, awesome, super and yet never once did I actually believe it because no one did anything. Can't say I've been excited to read any of the other installments based on this one and 6 years later I still haven't. I'm pretty sure it was Scott Brick who did the audio, so there's no complaints there.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dirk Grobbelaar

    There has been a fair amount of criticism floating around against The Sword of Shannara for drawing too many parallels with The Lord of The Rings. Much of this I felt was unfounded. I love The Lord of The Rings and I love the Shannara series. They're not the same, folks. Any resemblances end with the first Shannara book, and the series really picks up from book 2 (The Elfstones of Shannara). Anyway, that's neither here nor there, but just a way to set up my review of First King of Shannara. Terry There has been a fair amount of criticism floating around against The Sword of Shannara for drawing too many parallels with The Lord of The Rings. Much of this I felt was unfounded. I love The Lord of The Rings and I love the Shannara series. They're not the same, folks. Any resemblances end with the first Shannara book, and the series really picks up from book 2 (The Elfstones of Shannara). Anyway, that's neither here nor there, but just a way to set up my review of First King of Shannara. Terry Brooks is a very good descriptive writer, a trait which is well suited to writing fantasy and describing worlds the reader is likely to be unfamiliar with. He also excels in character development. This has held true for all of the Shannara books I have read, which is everything up to and including the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy. In my opinion, Walker Boh is one of the most fascinating characters in fantasy literature. But I'm straying off the path again. Back to First King of Shannara. This is not a 'must read' by any means and will likely appeal more to existing Shannara readers as it fleshes out the back story and history prior to the first book in the series (The Sword of Shannara). That being said, I really enjoyed the book, although it took me some time to finish. It was fun to, at long last, meet Jerle Shannara, to whom the whole series owes its name. And Bremen, who has such close ties to Allanon. So, if you're interested in Shannara lore, read this novel. It visits familiar ground insofar the Shannara books are concerned and as such isn't groundbreaking reading. Yet, the magic prevails.

  3. 5 out of 5

    St-Michel

    Well, here it is, the biggest disgrace to the fantasy genre since...well, that's just it, I can't think of anyone worse. Maybe it's just me, but I think if I wanted to read a badly mocked up verion of Tolkien, then I would just read Tolkien. I just don't get this guy, because all he's proven to me is that anyone can rip off LOTR, create the most cliche fantasy scenarios and become an instant success. Ok, I don't want to get a head of myself. Let me start from the beginning. Now, for a long time I Well, here it is, the biggest disgrace to the fantasy genre since...well, that's just it, I can't think of anyone worse. Maybe it's just me, but I think if I wanted to read a badly mocked up verion of Tolkien, then I would just read Tolkien. I just don't get this guy, because all he's proven to me is that anyone can rip off LOTR, create the most cliche fantasy scenarios and become an instant success. Ok, I don't want to get a head of myself. Let me start from the beginning. Now, for a long time I've known about the Sword of Shannara series, but never bothered to read any of it. I just couldn't imagine anything could ever hold up to LOTR. Eventually though, I wanted to start reading some of the other fantasy series that were out there. I started reading reviews about the Shannara series - and they were bad. It got to the point, after reading so many bad reviews that I just wanted to read something of his to find out just how bad it really is (plus, I questioned it slightly. After all, he's a bestseller. How can a bestseller be so bad?) So I decided to start with the prequel, First King of Shannara instead of the obvious first book, Sword of Shannara. Instantly, I felt like I was reading a joke. This book is filled with so many cliche scenarios, characters and plot devices it felt like I was reading a script for a game of Dungeons & Dragons, only trying desperately to be parallel to the world of Middle Earth, clinging to every nuance it possibly could. Ok, wait, we do have a difference: instead of Hobbits, we have Gnomes. But really, is that enough? The characters are thin and predictable and their development is poor at best. They all seem to be cookie-cutter characters pulled right from the Player's Handbook and badly modeled on the heroes of LOTR. And if all this wasn't enough, probably the thing that drove me crazy the most was the Four Lands itself. Being a huge fan of cartography and geography, I always pay particularly close attention to the maps of fantasy worlds. My god!! The Four Lands is the most unimaginative landscape I've ever seen that appears to make no geographical sense in the least. Could you at least have come up with some more imaginative names - at the very least? Truthfully, I could spend hours just ranting about the Four Lands themselves, so I'll stop here. Ah! and so, I could go on and on and on tearing this thing apart. Amazingly, it's not the worst thing I've ever read, but damn near close to it. Before I anger myself into a maniacal and convulsive state over this atrocity, I suppose I can at least list what redeeming values I think it has: um, it's got pretty good cover artwork.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Igor Ljubuncic

    I just realized two things: 1) I have not written a book review in a while 2) I have not written a review of this fine book. And then I realized another thing: 3) I gave this book only three stars, but that's not correct, because I loved this book, and it deserves five stars. Amended. Yes, it is a horribly cliche 80s-style Tolkienesque classsic D'n'D style good-vs-evil Warcraft, Trolls, Elves, Druids and other noble creatures, epic fight, magical artifacts, coming of age, tell-vs-show saga-like b I just realized two things: 1) I have not written a book review in a while 2) I have not written a review of this fine book. And then I realized another thing: 3) I gave this book only three stars, but that's not correct, because I loved this book, and it deserves five stars. Amended. Yes, it is a horribly cliche 80s-style Tolkienesque classsic D'n'D style good-vs-evil Warcraft, Trolls, Elves, Druids and other noble creatures, epic fight, magical artifacts, coming of age, tell-vs-show saga-like book. But I read it a dozen times, and every time, it felt cozy and good and happy. It's the kind of book that has its magical moment in time and place, and it's more about you reading it than the fact you are reading it and what words it has to share. From a purely technical perspective, 20 years later, this book is definitely not a great work of prose. But it is a great work of adventure and magic, and if you have happened to be there at the right age and in the right frame of mind, it is awesome. There are great dangers in revisiting childhood specials, be they movies or books. I believe I will probably never again read it, but if I do, I will try to remember the companionship it gave me. And that's all that matters. Le song: When Bremen into Paranor snuck, Eilt Druin and some elfstones he took, The Shannara Sword, The Warlock Lord, The plot continues in the following book. Fun fact: Bremen is ALSO a German city! Igor

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Yet another great book in the Shannara series by Terry Brooks. I would recommend reading this book after the first three books, only because it seems to fit better in this way. It is called a prequel for a reason, and I thing looking at the continuum of the story in an order the mind isn't used to will make it better when working on understanding the themes that the Terry Brooks is trying to present. In particular, I found the story of Tay Trefenwyd to be particularly moving. It also brought to Yet another great book in the Shannara series by Terry Brooks. I would recommend reading this book after the first three books, only because it seems to fit better in this way. It is called a prequel for a reason, and I thing looking at the continuum of the story in an order the mind isn't used to will make it better when working on understanding the themes that the Terry Brooks is trying to present. In particular, I found the story of Tay Trefenwyd to be particularly moving. It also brought to light the concept of absolute power, and the ability to sacrifice oneself in order to not destroy that which one holds most dear, right intention, thought, and action. Great book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Robbie Hall

    Terry Brooks is really good at writing action scenes. Too bad only 1/10th of the book are action scenes. 'Twas a lot more boring than I remember, a couple cool parts, but overall very slow. Less description! More epic battles! (Towards the end) Less epic battles! FINISH THE STORY I ALREADY KNOW THAT THE GOOD GUYS WIN, I DON'T WANT TO SIT THROUGH YET ANOTHER BATTLE. What you should have done is spread out the battle scenes so we don't have 3 chapters about boring one-dimensional characters compla Terry Brooks is really good at writing action scenes. Too bad only 1/10th of the book are action scenes. 'Twas a lot more boring than I remember, a couple cool parts, but overall very slow. Less description! More epic battles! (Towards the end) Less epic battles! FINISH THE STORY I ALREADY KNOW THAT THE GOOD GUYS WIN, I DON'T WANT TO SIT THROUGH YET ANOTHER BATTLE. What you should have done is spread out the battle scenes so we don't have 3 chapters about boring one-dimensional characters complaining about how boring they are and they wish they could stop being so boring but its really hard cause they're so boring. Actually I sort of feel like analyzing his characters right now. Here are the main characters of the story, and what would be in their "quick info" section on an online dating site: Bremen: "Hey I'm an old, serious man with large amounts of training in the druidic art of verbal diarrhea." Kinson Ravenlock: "My friends call me a generic fantasy-story human swordsman. I like to think that I have skill with a dagger as well." Jerle Shannara: "If you like hot-tempered warriors with a passion for punching and the tendency to needlessly risk their lives, then you'll love me. I'm also very emotional, and I like to show this by spending the entire second half of books sulking in a corner and lamenting my best friend's death. Tay Trefenwyd: "SPOILER ALERT I'm the guy that dies." Preia Starle: "If I had to describe my personality with just three words, I'd use: 1. Woman 2. Elf 3. Female What do you mean that's not personality? I don't even know what that word means." Mareth: "I'm a small, vulnerable girl with a hidden past and a talent for magi-GARRGGHH I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE THEY'RE SO GENERIC &$%*#$!! Warlock Lord: "Hi I'm Sauron."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Saul

    I must say that since writing the Sword of Shannara back in 1977, at least that is when it was published, Terry Brooks has become a much better writer. I was really hesitant to even pick up another Terry Brooks book. I read the Sword back when I was in middle school and I loved the book. I really liked the story. Of course that was before I had read Tolkien and I remember my friends way back then saying that Sword was a total rip off of The Lord of the Rings. I just never read LOTR. I thought t I must say that since writing the Sword of Shannara back in 1977, at least that is when it was published, Terry Brooks has become a much better writer. I was really hesitant to even pick up another Terry Brooks book. I read the Sword back when I was in middle school and I loved the book. I really liked the story. Of course that was before I had read Tolkien and I remember my friends way back then saying that Sword was a total rip off of The Lord of the Rings. I just never read LOTR. I thought they were too long even though the Sword paper back was really thick book. It had a great fold out picture painted by the Brothers Hilderbrant. They were at the time some great fantasy artist. But Sword was really easy to read and it was fun. I read 3-4 more Shannara books and well by the 4th book it was the same story over and over again. I saw First King at the book store and was impressed with the cover. I am a sucker for nice covers. I read the back and it sounded really interesting. Bought it and was pleasantly surprised. Still a story of a "Heroes Journey" but it was really well written. Later I even read "Antrax" another "Shannara" book but wasn't as impressed with that one as I was with First King. It is a Prequel to Sword of Shannara and it was really cool to see what had happened years before that set up what happens in Sword of Shannara book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kayla

    Reading reviews about this book and MAN people get butthurt over the dumbest crap. Like, you're mad the names of the kingdoms arent imaginative enough? Really? You're mad that an epic fantasy series has the common epic fantasy tropes? Honestly. Maybe y'all are mad because he took inspiration from LoTR, but if you're a diehard LoTR fan you shouldn't be expecting anything to match it anyway

  9. 4 out of 5

    Vicky

    I liked it. Looking forward to the second book in the series.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Squire

    #9/29 in my Epic Shannara Quest. #9/29 in my Epic Shannara Quest. Lackluster prequel to the original Shannara series has the same feel as Lucas' Star Wars prequels: a story line that has already been noted, but with a few details filled in giving it a perfunctory feel. The writing doesn't hold up as well as his marvelous eight pre-Shannara books. To be fair, though, it was probably a mistake to read this before I started the Shannara trilogy (since it was published before the pre-Shannara books). T #9/29 in my Epic Shannara Quest. #9/29 in my Epic Shannara Quest. Lackluster prequel to the original Shannara series has the same feel as Lucas' Star Wars prequels: a story line that has already been noted, but with a few details filled in giving it a perfunctory feel. The writing doesn't hold up as well as his marvelous eight pre-Shannara books. To be fair, though, it was probably a mistake to read this before I started the Shannara trilogy (since it was published before the pre-Shannara books). The book ended on a high note, part four being better than the first three, but chapters 15-17 concluding Part Two "The Search for the Black Elfstone" were Brooks at his best, though the story of the black elfstone was better told in the superior The Druid of Shannara.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Allison ☾

    All the elements of fantasy that I love but none of the excitement. Quite frankly, this book read like a history text book. I regret starting the series with this one, but I fully intend on reading more of Shannara. Book one, The Sword of Shannara, is sitting on my shelf already waiting to be read. So even though I personally did not enjoy this one, I am still excited to read more.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    I've read more Terry Brooks than Faulkner in my life. And I bought the bulk of Shannara books the same day I bought The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Oh, the irony! Anyway, I thought this cookie-cutter fantasy epic was a great book when I was eleven. No way in hell I'm re-reading this, but it's safe to say that I don't think so anymore.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Markus

    There would be stories of what happened that night for years afterward, tales passed from mouth to mouth that would take on the trappings of legend. They would come from various sources, but all would have their genesis in the glimpses caught by passersby who paused for a momentary look at what was taking place within Urprox Screl's great forge. The doors stood open to the night so that fresh air could be drawn in and stale heat vented out and those who forced themselves close enough were witnes There would be stories of what happened that night for years afterward, tales passed from mouth to mouth that would take on the trappings of legend. They would come from various sources, but all would have their genesis in the glimpses caught by passersby who paused for a momentary look at what was taking place within Urprox Screl's great forge. The doors stood open to the night so that fresh air could be drawn in and stale heat vented out and those who forced themselves close enough were witnesses to visions they later declared to have been born out of madness. A sword was forged by Urprox Screl that night, but the manner of its shaping would be forever in dispute. First King of Shannara takes the reader back to the place and time where everything once began. This is the tale of Bremen and the Druids of old, of the Warlock Lord and his hideous servants, of the rise to power of the house of Shannara, and of course, of the forging of the legendary sword itself in the forges of Dechtera. How does one write such an amazing story when it's just a prequel with the considerable disadvantage that everyone knows beforehand what will ultimately happen? Terry Brooks seems to have found the perfect answer to that question. The tale of First King develops in a great way where what we already know (the tales recounted by Allanon to Shea Ohmsford) is skillfully mixed with surprises and unexpected turns of events. New and deeply fascinating characters and locations are intertwined with the ones we already know of, and the whole thing has a sense of nostalgia to it that adds another layer to its already shimmering excellence. Apart from the original trilogy, this book is by far the best in the Shannara series and it truly lives up to the greatness of the three old legends Sword, Elfstones and Wishsong.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Idamus

    Rather dull, both story and narration fell a bit flat.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stephanne Stacey

    I have to say that Terry Brooks is a great writer for action scenes. I really liked this book, and can't say that I really understand why so many people seem to think that he is coping Tolkins' Lord of the Ring series. I can however say that I am reading too many fantasies and the worlds are becoming one in my mind... but that's really just a personal note. There really isn't anything grotesque in this book, so I think a pre-teen could easily read it without the parents being worried. ... of cou I have to say that Terry Brooks is a great writer for action scenes. I really liked this book, and can't say that I really understand why so many people seem to think that he is coping Tolkins' Lord of the Ring series. I can however say that I am reading too many fantasies and the worlds are becoming one in my mind... but that's really just a personal note. There really isn't anything grotesque in this book, so I think a pre-teen could easily read it without the parents being worried. ... of course that would only be my opinion. Read it yourself if you doubt me.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rhiannon

    this book is poorly written. the description of the warriers is sexist and human-centric. there was detailed description of scenes that were not relevant to the plot. a slog of a read and very disappointing.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    Interesting in the fact that we learn the story of Allannon's early life, his master Bremen and the struggle against Brona which was alluded to in Sword of Shannara. Good, not great but valued for it's information of the Early days of Magic use and it's pitfalls.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Garth Mailman

    I read the first six books in the Shannara series decades ago. This is a sort of prequel to the original series that dates back nearly 4 decades. The initial chapters of this book are rather introductory and filled with philosophy and description thus a bit tedious. We are nearing page 100 before the name Shannara enters the storyline. It was the easy camaraderie of the friends in the original series that made the tale. The Four Lands is a world of Druids, Elves, Dwarfs, Gnomes, and Men; who wie I read the first six books in the Shannara series decades ago. This is a sort of prequel to the original series that dates back nearly 4 decades. The initial chapters of this book are rather introductory and filled with philosophy and description thus a bit tedious. We are nearing page 100 before the name Shannara enters the storyline. It was the easy camaraderie of the friends in the original series that made the tale. The Four Lands is a world of Druids, Elves, Dwarfs, Gnomes, and Men; who wield magic to fight dark evil foes. Five loyal companions seek to unite the forces of good to forge a sword of power, (The Sword of Shannara?), find the man capable of wielding it, and the elfstones with the power to defend them. Where the young lad seen in a vision fits in we are yet to know. The use of magic is not a bottomless well, there’s a price to be paid and even the most powerful practitioner will find him/herself weary and weak, even defenseless when the store is exhausted. As I remember the reason I tired of further reading in the extended Shannara Series, Brooks works contain extended descriptive passages that do nothing to move the story along. The initial series runs to 1200 pages. Where a Hemingway would tell you that someone is withdrawn, intense, and taciturn; Brooks will take 10 to 15 pages to describe him. The story ends with a colossal battle between good and evil worthy of a Rocky film. Thus in 400 plus pages we learn of the birth of the Sword of Shannara.

  19. 4 out of 5

    James Joyce

    Well, that was a blast from the past. I read "The Sword of Shannara" around 1980-or-so, followed by "The Elfstones of Shannara" and "The Wishsong of Shannara" as they were published in '82 and '85. And that seemed to be that. A fun trilogy of magic and adventure. The first book a pastiche/homage to Tolkien's books, and the remainder original stories. I read his follow-up, the unrelated "Magic Kingdom: For Sale", but was not enchanted by this new world and it would be 5 more years before Brooks pr Well, that was a blast from the past. I read "The Sword of Shannara" around 1980-or-so, followed by "The Elfstones of Shannara" and "The Wishsong of Shannara" as they were published in '82 and '85. And that seemed to be that. A fun trilogy of magic and adventure. The first book a pastiche/homage to Tolkien's books, and the remainder original stories. I read his follow-up, the unrelated "Magic Kingdom: For Sale", but was not enchanted by this new world and it would be 5 more years before Brooks produced another Shannara novel, though I was mostly unaware of it, at the time. Next thing I know, there seemed to be an entire library of Shannara books! And, to be honest, it was simply too daunting and I turned to various other books of magic, science, mystery and so on. Now I decided to step back into the pool and chose this one because it is a direct prequel to Sword. It sets up why and how the events of Sword "had to" happen. It fills in the crevices and shines some light in the darker corners of the world, as it appeared in that trilogy. Once again, it was fun and easy and had it's share of thrills and buckling swashes. Not one of my favourite books, not even one of my favourite fantasy novels, but enough fun and headlong excitement that I do not begrudge the experience. In fact, enough that I am now going to read more. And more, probably... and more... god there are a lot of them!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Valéria Budošova

    I was hesitant a lot, reconsidering starting this book.I as anybody who loves high fantasy knew of Terry Brooks but I was not attracted to his world...I saw the first season and marked it as to read, but there was such a hate toward the books, that it let me down for some time.But that was a gravely mistake. I brought the book for vacation and during my stay in car there and back again I read it all and I loved it all. I understood why they behaved as they did, loved the way the relationships ev I was hesitant a lot, reconsidering starting this book.I as anybody who loves high fantasy knew of Terry Brooks but I was not attracted to his world...I saw the first season and marked it as to read, but there was such a hate toward the books, that it let me down for some time.But that was a gravely mistake. I brought the book for vacation and during my stay in car there and back again I read it all and I loved it all. I understood why they behaved as they did, loved the way the relationships evolved. He has a very well thought off world, I could sense the rules and boundaries of the magic and technology in this world and I liked the collaboration.As an introduction I could not wish for more...I cannot wait to continue reading books in the series..for sure I recommend

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gilda Felt

    I wondered if I would be disappointed in this book, as I have other books I read years ago and then recently returned to. Though I hadn’t read this particular book before, I have read the first six or so of the series. I shouldn’t have worried. From the first, I was pulled into the story of many characters introduced: the Druids Bremen, Risca,Tay Trefenwyd, and Mereth. Kinson the Borderman, the Elfin warrior, Jerle Shannara, and so many more. It’s lucky a map is included, because there are just a I wondered if I would be disappointed in this book, as I have other books I read years ago and then recently returned to. Though I hadn’t read this particular book before, I have read the first six or so of the series. I shouldn’t have worried. From the first, I was pulled into the story of many characters introduced: the Druids Bremen, Risca,Tay Trefenwyd, and Mereth. Kinson the Borderman, the Elfin warrior, Jerle Shannara, and so many more. It’s lucky a map is included, because there are just as many places described in the story. And having read some others in the series, I enjoyed getting the back stories on some of the events and people who will appear later on. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to continuing the saga.

  22. 5 out of 5

    R.A.

    I didn't enjoy this one as much the second time as I did the first time. I already knew how everything was going to go down and I was not looking forward to it all. But I loved the druid Bremen even more this time. I understood him a bit more and could appreciate his complexity. Mareth was another character I appreciated a lot more this time around.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Barstad

    Loved it! It really makes me want to go back and reread the original 3 books in the series. Lots of suspense and emotion in this story that made it hard to put down.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ivana Richards

    Really good. Glad I read the original trilogy first though.

  25. 4 out of 5

    MC

    After a while, author Terry Brooks decided to do what many fans had wanted him to do, and tell some of the back-story of the Shannara universe. A quick note here, that Shannara does not refer to the world these adventures take place in, but to one of several in-universe families, in this case a legendary Elven family, that the adventures revolve around most often. The world these Shannara stories take place in is actually our own, thousands of years in the future after a nuclear apocalypse has d After a while, author Terry Brooks decided to do what many fans had wanted him to do, and tell some of the back-story of the Shannara universe. A quick note here, that Shannara does not refer to the world these adventures take place in, but to one of several in-universe families, in this case a legendary Elven family, that the adventures revolve around most often. The world these Shannara stories take place in is actually our own, thousands of years in the future after a nuclear apocalypse has destroyed modern civilization. In the wake of said devastation, man's science and the ancient faerie magic from before man both were revived. In recent years, Brooks has written Shannara prequels a lot, and this trend began, really, in 1996, with the publication of First King of Shannara, which details the back-story of the famous Sword of Shannara, which was forged during the brief “Second War of the Races”, mentioned by Allanon to Flick and Shea Ohmsford during The Sword of Shannara. The interesting thing is that, for those who are big Allanon fans, they will not find him much in this book until the very end. Even when he does appear, his contribution, though important, is quite minor overall. This is not his story, but the adventure of Bremen, his father, and last of the Druids who bequeathed his legacy to his son. Of course, right there in that paragraph are some major spoilers I'm leaving unstated. ;) First King is also the story of Jerle Shannara, the famous ancestor of Sword protagonist, and first published protagonist, Shea Ohmsord (who was adopted by the Ohmsford family, and is really a Shannara). The contrast between Shea and Jerle could not be more profound, yet similar despite all of this. I don't know if these contrasts and yet sameness were accidental, or on purpose with Brooks, but it works. Shea and Flick were smaller than most Men. In fact, they were often called, in Sword, “little Valeman”, and so forth. Jerle is a big guy, athletic, and strong. “Little” could never be used as a word to describe him. Shea was a simple civilian who had little to do with his Elven side, and helped run his adoptive father's inn. Jerle was a military warrior, and eventual king of the Elves, who is Elven through and through. Yet, despite these differences, Jerle and his descendant shared in common important traits. They both cared deeply for their families, friends, and others. They both made mistakes and knew about this, and did their best to defeat the enemy, in both cases the rebel Druid Brona (known as the Warlock Lord). The difference is that Jerle failed and Shea succeeded. Why? We don't know for sure. There could be several reasons. Perhaps Shea was stronger emotionally, or perhaps the pressure of the deaths of those he commanded impacted Jerle, while Shea didn't have this to deal with, or perhaps, as Allanon seemed to suggest in Sword, Bremen handled it in a bad way. Thus, Allanon handled it differently in the hopes (slim, but realized) that Shea would succeed in this way where his valiant ancestor had failed. What I really liked about this novel was two-fold. First off, Brooks did not shy away from the story of the original novel, Sword, while fleshing it out thoroughly. Thusly, he did manage to make the world even less like Middle-Earth, while not giving into those who childishly (and fraudulently, in my opinion) accuse Sword of being too derivative of Tolkien's works. The second part about First King that I enjoyed was how Brooks kept the novel very idealistic. In recent years, he has gone sometimes darker, but here, while he was somewhat dark for the history of the “Second War of the Races”, he still kept things idealistic. If only the more recent books were this way. I really enjoyed this novel, and Highly Recommend it to Shannara fans, and epic fantasy fans in general.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Why do people like these ridiculously high fantasy books that just meander on and on and just drag on forever? I truly don’t get it. I can do beautiful writing. That’s never a problem. But something being overwritten is not the same as being beautifully written. One uses the right words in a melodic way, the other just uses too many words. Not the same. So my interest in the Shannara trilogy came from the TV show. The TV show is a raging pile of trash that I love quite a bit. Since season two is Why do people like these ridiculously high fantasy books that just meander on and on and just drag on forever? I truly don’t get it. I can do beautiful writing. That’s never a problem. But something being overwritten is not the same as being beautifully written. One uses the right words in a melodic way, the other just uses too many words. Not the same. So my interest in the Shannara trilogy came from the TV show. The TV show is a raging pile of trash that I love quite a bit. Since season two is coming next year I figured I’d try out the book. I’d already had THE ELFSTONES OF SHANNARA that I picked up at Phoenix Comic Con a couple years ago, but why not start at the beginning? FIRST KING is actually a prequel, not the first book in the trilogy. Not sure if that makes a difference to the trilogy readers, but I highly doubt that the style of writing in the prequel is going to vary much from the actual trilogy. Which is why I won’t be reading it. It took FOREVER to read as the story outlined every moments in these characters lives in excruciating detail and I just wanted it to end. With a title of FIRST KING OF SHANNARA, the guy didn’t actually make an appearance until halfway through the story. My eyes were already crossed at that point. I felt completely disconnected from everything going on. The battles were written at arm’s length, the characters were developed at the same distance and they all sounded the same. I just don’t get it. Is this series popular because it’s what high fantasy is “supposed” to be? The thing is I actually liked the story and I would read on if I didn’t have to slog through such heavy-handed writing. I just can’t do it. It’s not even fun to read; it’s a chore. Plus, and no surprise, it looks like MTV took quite a bit of liberties with the timeline and some of the characters. And I picked up the book because I wanted to find out what actually happened to the world to make our current society disappear and these elven people crop up. I got nothing. For a prequel it was surprisingly scant on pertinent world information. I got a lot of funky named things and places that are uber-fantasy names and all. But the characters only alluded to the fall of man and that particular world. No one went into detail. Considering all the “as you know, Bob” moments, you’d thinking SOMEONE would mention it. Nope. Despite my better judgment I’m still intrigued as to how drastically the show differs from the book. It’s not much of a stretch to insinuate that it’s pretty big. MTV obviously wrote the show for a certain demographic, while the book was written for quite a different set of people. I’m okay with it. I can get sucked into the show far easier than I can this book. I’ll stick with that. 2

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marty Reeder

    After reading Lord of the Rings as a seventh grader, I stumbled across The Sword of Shannara in my parent’s paperback shelf and the cover alone was enough to convince me that this was going to be a worthwhile venture following the father of modern fantasy. And it was. It had everything that the Lord of the Rings offered in a single--albeit super long--novel. But even then I knew I was not dealing with wholly original material. I recall listing off the plot details and characters to my younger br After reading Lord of the Rings as a seventh grader, I stumbled across The Sword of Shannara in my parent’s paperback shelf and the cover alone was enough to convince me that this was going to be a worthwhile venture following the father of modern fantasy. And it was. It had everything that the Lord of the Rings offered in a single--albeit super long--novel. But even then I knew I was not dealing with wholly original material. I recall listing off the plot details and characters to my younger brother while pairing them up with their obvious Lord of the Rings equivalent. That didn’t stop me from reading the sequels and then the laudable Scions of Shannara series. And then life happened, and I read other genres and never really dabbled again in epic fantasies (with a couple of exceptions). Now my son has turned out to be a dedicated audiobook listener, and I can’t keep up with his new requests. I tried to think of long books that will keep him engaged for more than a few days, and I remembered Shannara. He read and we discussed, and he was ready for more. I threw the others at him with similar effect. He knocked them down with a speed that defied my original purpose for getting him the lengthy books! Finally, he ran through the all of Shannara sequels and Scions series that I read in my youth--that is, he caught up with me! Since the last time I read Shannara, Terry Brooks has written loads more Shannara novels, including this one (wait, I’m actually going to write about *this* book in my review paired to the same title … sigh, I suppose, if I must). It’d been a long time since I read anything by Brooks, and this would be a chance to read something new with my son. What the heck, why not?! The circumstances for the reading were great. Pretty much any shared activity with your child is going to be positive. The reading, though? Well, I’m an adult now, and with that comes a curse of cynicism and loss of some level of triviality (those who know me might regard those with skepticism, but nevertheless, such is my state … when it comes to reading, at least). What this means is that things I recognized before--e.g.: the unoriginality--but easily forgave since I had plenty of time and could be trivial with how I used it, were no longer the case. Now as an adult, I find myself less tolerant towards deficiencies and more jealous with my time. So The First King of Shannara hits all the notes of an epic fantasy: impossible-to-win wars, sorcery galore, prophecies, talismans, quests, secret pasts, noble deaths, chivalrous romance, etcetera. Unfortunately, the unoriginality inherent in these tropes is much more difficult to look past as someone who has read a lot of literature between now and my first reading. Before, it was just a game of matching between Brooks and Tolkien. Now, however, I see in Terry Brooks (at the point of writing this work) someone whose life experience starts and ends with reading lots of fantasy novels. Tolkien was a man who had rich experience with culture through his study of linguistics, and that translates on the page in clear (and almost too thorough) a fashion. He also suffered the brutal realities of war. He was both an intellect and fervent adherent of religion. These things mean that his story, albeit one set in a world of fantasy, was grounded in the truths of his impressive life experiences. While Brooks has elves and dwarves, they are as distinct culturally as a toddler’s drawing of two similar animals. His dialogue is as natural as the needs of the scene at hand, but not the characters. The relationships between people reflect through a glass darkly how real relationships operate. Personalities, talents, strengths, weaknesses, and especially magic and its limits adjust according to what makes for the best or easiest effect on the story at that particular point in time. It’s not that Brooks has not outlined an interesting precursor to his other novels or doesn’t have moments of talented literary description, it’s that I am not learning anything in the process of this reading because the author has nothing to teach me, either because he lacks the experience and learning himself or because he is incapable of transferring it to script (my money is on the former). While I’m piling on, let me just add that Brooks bit off more than he could chew with this story. What he’s really done is taken a trilogy and compressed it into a brief survey of important and relevant events for one novel. The introduction to druids and their culture (loose term here and lost opportunity for Brooks) and their destruction happens within a few chapters. The epic battles between a daunting army and the armies of other races are equally managed in as quick a time and little mechanical detail as possible. Some might suggest that this means Brooks should have written the trilogy that it was clearly intended to be … and for most fantasy aficionados, that would be true. Me, however, I’d like the scale to be lessened far more. Make it more intimate, more focused, more nuanced. Drop the “end-of-the-world” armies and battles and instead show us something with high stakes but on a small stage, with unique characters and character choices, and exciting--though individual--battles and action scenes. Those are the areas where my cynicism gets the best of me. But to soothe the feelings that I’ve certainly hurt from Terry as he uses his millions of dollars to wipe his tear-stained face from the review of an amateur Internet book reviewer … let me say that in spite of all this he still has talent. In the first Sword of Shannara book I still vividly recall one character unique from the Lord of the Rings cast who has an adventure that is all his own, owing nothing to Tolkien or the master’s numerous disciples. And here, I catch a glimmer of the same thing. One character has to disguise himself (magically) by changing his very being and becoming his enemy. I was suddenly interested in this convoluted dynamic that could easily parallel with several metaphors of life. Or the talisman, the Sword of Shannara itself, has always had a unique view into the power (and limits) of truth. If only Brooks could have spent more time on these ideas and situations instead of focusing on his checklist of epic fantasy requirements! Having said all of that, The First King of Shannara accomplished everything I expected of it. I’m an old, cynical man who is more careful about his reading choices nowadays, but as long as I’ve got a son who wants to read and enjoy what is, ultimately, entertaining writing … sure, I’m on board.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Fairweather

    I cant tell yet, however I tend to feel that this book is a prime example as to why for someone who wants to start a new series may want to avoid a prequel to start off with. I typically feel that Prequels are primarily to explain or clear things up from the original story line that needed further explanation or expansion and not to simply add another volume to the series. From the very beginning I found myself questioning whether I should be reading this or not. Perhaps it was just me. I found I cant tell yet, however I tend to feel that this book is a prime example as to why for someone who wants to start a new series may want to avoid a prequel to start off with. I typically feel that Prequels are primarily to explain or clear things up from the original story line that needed further explanation or expansion and not to simply add another volume to the series. From the very beginning I found myself questioning whether I should be reading this or not. Perhaps it was just me. I found the First King to be pretty standard and a bit dry through 90% of the book with the last 50 pages being the most exciting. The character development was very lax and the description especially that of the monsters and enemies who are fought against had little substance or detail. Its fantasy none the less which is good. I would have liked to have seen alot more depth and substance within the character interaction with one another which would have given myself the reader a bit more stake in the events. I found myself not really caring about any of the characters throughout and for the most part found myself just wondering how the story was going to unfold. Ill hold any further judgement until I read book one of the Shannara series.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cady

    I expected this to be at least a little better. I've stayed away from traditional fantasy like this for a long time, especially after reading George R. R. Martin, but sometimes I get a craving so I come back. It's always a mistake. So many characters with plot armor, so much deus ex machina, so little character development, so many overused tropes. I did enjoy the battles that make up the last fifty or so pages, but it takes so long to get there. It's plodding, lots of time spent on the wanderin I expected this to be at least a little better. I've stayed away from traditional fantasy like this for a long time, especially after reading George R. R. Martin, but sometimes I get a craving so I come back. It's always a mistake. So many characters with plot armor, so much deus ex machina, so little character development, so many overused tropes. I did enjoy the battles that make up the last fifty or so pages, but it takes so long to get there. It's plodding, lots of time spent on the wanderings of characters, but they mostly do very little until the end.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tanja Glavnik

    I'm being generous in giving it three stars in a way, because I wasn't entirely hooked into the story until the very last part, titled 'The Battle for the Rhenn'. Maybe it's because I've always associated better with battle descriptions than anything else (and yes, I'm female, first thing's first), but the first three quarters of the book seemed mostly a lot of words and not much else. Now, I like a good description as much as any other fantasy reader (I mean, I've read Tolkien and GRRM, not to I'm being generous in giving it three stars in a way, because I wasn't entirely hooked into the story until the very last part, titled 'The Battle for the Rhenn'. Maybe it's because I've always associated better with battle descriptions than anything else (and yes, I'm female, first thing's first), but the first three quarters of the book seemed mostly a lot of words and not much else. Now, I like a good description as much as any other fantasy reader (I mean, I've read Tolkien and GRRM, not to mention back in the day Homer too), but at some point in time, the author, I feel, has to be confident in his readers enough to not spend so much time describing everything in minute detail. It works, to an extent, but then it gets prolonged; I found myself skipping ahead through some parts to where any actual dialogue was. For me, it's the characters and their dialogue that make or break the story - and this one was almost broken. Almost. The last part redeemed it, and I will continue reading the Original Shannara trilogy, but Ih ave to say this one wasn't as good as I'd hoped it would be. A decent read, but not fantastic.

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