Nearly forty years ago, during a dark age where epic fantasy was hard to come by, Terry Brooks released The Sword of Shannara. In many ways, similar to The Lord of the Rings: An unaware, peaceful guy (Shea Ohmsford), happy in his own world, is tasked by a wise, mysterious stranger (Allanon) to obtain the Sword of Shannara before the Warlock Lord uses it to conquer Shannara. While some thought the plot too similar to Frodo/Gandalf/The Ring/Sauron, Tolkien’s books would ultimately establish the archtype for all fantasy that followed. And, in the following decades, Brooks would unveil his Shannara mythos in over 25 books (and it’s still going).
For those that wished Tolkien had written much more, Brooks is the perfect author. His books quickly would show their originality. Long-time readers were in for a welcome surprise when he connected them to his Word & Void series and linking high fantasy with the modern world. Since the series is made up of self-contained sequences (trilogies, duologies…), which makes it easier to pick a place to start (though Sword is still the best place). It also makes those who slogged through years of Robert Jordan’s epic one-story series, or those afraid to start, a little more at ease of taking on another never-ending fantasy. However, many Brooks fans probably wish he would go back and revisit some of his classic characters.
In the final analysis, fantasy fans will long remember Middle-Earth, Narnia and Shannara.