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Terry Brooks

Terry Brooks is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty-five books. The author was a practicing attorney for many years but now writes full-time. He lives with his wife, Judine, in the Pacific Northwest.


Rebecca Chats with Terry Brooks

Terry Brooks is a New York Times bestselling author, having published his first book The Sword of Shannara back in 1977. That was before my time, but since then he’s gone on to write over thirty books, many of which were passed on to me by my father (and one of which remains one of my favourite books: Running with the Demon). It feels that I’ve always had Terry Brooks’s novels on my bookshelf.

Most famous for his SHANNARA series, Brooks has been adding to his mythos for years now, resulting in an epic story that spans several generations and a few thousand years. This year Terry Brooks is celebrating his 35th year as a published writer and I'd like to thank Shawn Speakman for giving me the chance to interview him. I asked Mr. Brooks about the nature o... Read More

The Sword of Shannara: Too derivative

The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

The Sword of Shannara was a very popular book back in the 70s right after the huge success of THE LORD OF THE RINGS when everyone wanted to read more fantasy. I wasn't old enough to read it back then, so I came to it much later. I read part of the first book and, knowing how popular it had been, and feeling like it was a classic, I was prepared to enjoy it. About half way through I gave it to my ten year old son.

The weird thing is, it's so like THE LORD OF THE RINGS, at the same time that it's not. I don't mind a few common fantasy elements (especially in works written before they were cliché), but Brooks' plot and characters come almost straight out of Tolkien. This may have been acceptable if the writing had come straight out of Tolki... Read More

The Elfstones of Shannara: Actually refreshing for today, and for when it was written

The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks

I've read plenty of Terry Brooks's fantasy novels, but among his earliest works I've only ever completed The Wishsong of Shannara. But with news of a television adaptation of The Elfstones of Shannara scheduled to air in 2016, I figured now was as good a time as any to delve into his backlog — and it's interesting to see how he's developed as a writer since then.

As the direct sequel to The Sword of Shannara, the story centres on the grandson of the previous novel's protagonist: Wil Ohmsford, grandson of Shea Ohmsford. He's approached by the Druid Allanon with a task only he can accomplish — use the three magical Elfstones in the defence of a young Elf girl with a mission of her own set before her.

For thousands of years a magical tree known as the Ellcrys has held back hordes ... Read More

The Wishsong of Shannara: Not a completely plagiaristic waste

The Wishsong of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Out of the original trilogy of SHANNARA novels, The Wishsong of Shannara is possibility the best of the three, though certainly not Brooks's best overall (not that his best is groundbreaking literature anyway). As one of the early detractors of Tolkien, Brooks's SHANNARA series caters to the fantasy buffs that just can't get enough of noble quests against evil — but with likeable characters, fast-paced narrative and some genuinely intriguing components stirred in Brooks's works aren't a complete plagiaristic waste.

Something makes me keep coming back to Brooks's work each time he publishes a new book, that I can't explain (and it's not just the fact that my father loves him, buys his books and then passes them on to me). At this stage, I've s... Read More

The Scions of Shannara: Begins Brooks’ best Shannara series

The Scions of Shannara by Terry Brooks

"You Believe We Are the Ones for Whom the Trust was Intended..."

Whether you love or hate Terry Brooks's books, one thing is certain: that the four-part HERITAGE OF SHANNARA is the best of his fantasy series (though Running With the Demon is his best singular novel). Of course, when I say "best" I do not mean that it is profound, life-changing stuff. Like all of his work it contains long-winded sentences, awful dialogue, too much sentimentality, borrows heavily from Tolkien and tends to tell rather than show. But for all of that something keeps me coming back to the Four Lands, and The Scions of Shannara is the beginning of a tightly-structured, fast-paced adventure that will sustain the interest of anyone who's not too picky.

It has been o... Read More

The Druid of Shannara: The best of Shannara

The Druid of Shannara by Terry Brooks

"I Envy Your Past... I Have None..."

The second book in the four-part series THE HERITAGE OF SHANNARA focuses on Walker Boh, the most unique and intriguing character that Brooks has ever created. In an ongoing series that is filled with grim wizards, plucky farm-boys, feisty love-interests, and bland members of the Leah family thrown in for good measure, Walker Boh is a breath of fresh air and makes a compelling protagonist for the best installment of Brooks's best SHANNARA-based series.

In the previous novel The Scions of Shannara, three members of the Ohmsford family were summoned by the shade Allanon to complete three specific tasks in order to combat the rising threat of the mysterious Shadowen: to find the lost Sword of Shannara (Par), discover the hiding place of the lost elves (Wren) and restore the Druid Keep of... Read More

The Elf Queen of Shannara: Answers many questions

The Elf Queen of Shannara by Terry Brooks

"Goodbye Wren That Was..."

The third volume of THE HERITAGE OF SHANNARA quartet, and also the most insular. Although there are brief mentions of what fellow-heroes are up to, The Elf Queen of Shannara almost exclusively focuses on Wren, quite different from the other three books that tell the over-arching story from various points of view.

The deceased Druid Allanon has given three scions separate quests that must be fulfilled if they are to defeat the mysterious and sinister Shadowen and the totalitarian Federation that is slowly encroaching upon the freedom of the Four Lands. Par Ohmsford was to find the Sword of Shannara and Walker Boh to return the Druid Keep Paranor to the corporeal world. But Rover-girl Wren was instructed to find the Elves, who had gone missing from the lands years ago. With her traveling companion Garth, sh... Read More

The Talismans of Shannara: Getting repetitive

The Talismans of Shannara by Terry Brooks

"Some of Us Listened to the Earth's Whisper..."

The fourth and final installment in THE HERITAGE OF SHANNARA quartet. The premise is that the Four Lands are dying under both the totalitarian Federation and the sinister Shadowen, and the shade of the Druid of Allanon has called together three scions who can put an end to the entropy. Par is sent in search of the Sword of Shannara, Walker to bring back the Druid Keep of Paranor, and Wren to discover the missing race of Elves and restore them to the Four Lands. As the story starts, all these tasks have been completed, though with a heavy toll. Walker is trapped in Paranor by four Shadowen assuming the shape of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; Wren is now the untested Queen of the Elves, facing an approaching army; and Par still believes he is responsible for the death of his brother, unaware that Coll is alive and well, b... Read More

Jarka Ruus: Promising start to a new Shannara series

Jarka Ruus by Terry Brooks

"The One that Plays the Others as a Master Does his Puppets..."

It's been twenty years since the events of The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, in which a combined group of Elves, Men and Dwarves sailed under the leadership of the Druid Walker Boh in an attempt to reclaim archaic knowledge from lost islands far to the West. Though the mission failed in this respect, it did achieve one of Walker's chief desires; to redeem the life of Grianne Ohmsford. Kidnapped from her family when she was a child, she was raised as the evil Ilse Witch and only made aware of her true identity by the intervention of her brother Bek Ohmsford.

My assessment of The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy was not a favorable one, as I ultimately felt it was nothing more than an introduction to ideas that Terry Brooks planned to go into more detail on... Read More

Tanequil: A solid follow-up to Jarka Ruus

Tanequil by Terry Brooks

"It is the Power We Wield that Commands Our Loyalty..."

As the second book in the HIGH DRUID OF SHANNARA trilogy, Brooks picks up right where he left off; with his heroes in dire straights. Betrayed by the treachery of her fellow Druids, Grianne Ohmsford has found herself transported into the Forbidding, the dimension that all the demons and monsters of the world were banished into thousands of years ago. Despite making a somewhat flimsy alliance with a create called Weka Dart, Grianne has now been captured by the terrible Straken Lord Tael Riverine, who has a terrible future in store for her — as well as plans for her world.

Only her niece Penderrin "Pen" Ohmsford and a small band allies carry the hope of releasing her from her prison, traveling to the region of Inkrim in order to find the magical tree tanequil and request from it the use of one of its boughs in order to ... Read More

Straken: Disappointment

Straken by Terry Brooks

"Hate That Everything We Do is Dictated by These Secret Keepers..."

What was shaping up to be the best SHANNARA-based serial since THE HERITAGE OF SHANNARA stumbles on the finish line. Despite a promising start and a strong middle, THE HIGH DRUID OF SHANNARA goes out more with a whimper than a bang, due to several pointless chapters, unbelievable coincidences, the undermining of previously established plot-points and too much stupid behavior on the part of its antagonists.

Grianne Ohmsford was banished into the world of the Forbidding by her treacherous fellow Druids, under the leadership of Shadea a'Ru. What they failed to understand is that they themselves were being played, as by sending Grianne into the Forbidding, they unknowingly released a demon into their own world who has since been manipulating events in order to secure the destru... Read More

Armageddon’s Children: Bridges the gap

Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks

"I Will Grow Up to be Like My Mother..."

Best known for his expansive SHANNARA series set in a typical fantasy-realm of swords and sorcery, Terry Brooks is also the author of the WORD AND THE VOID trilogy, an urban-fantasy concerning the entropy of our world fought against by Knights of the Word. Although both series seemed unconnected (despite a few hints that the world of SHANNARA was set thousands of years into the future, a world built on the foundations of our own, and the common use of the phrase "the Word" in both series) this new trilogy builds a bridge between the two of them. Aptly called THE GENESIS OF SHANNARA, the trilogy purports to act as a sequel to Angel Fire East (the final book in the WORD AND THE VOID trilogy) and the prequel to the first book i... Read More

The Elves of Cintra: Mostly rewarding

The Elves of Cintra by Terry Brooks

This is the second book in the Genesis of Shannara trilogy, a series that holds the interesting position of being both a prequel (to the extensive Shannara series) and a sequel (to The Word and The Void trilogy). Though there have been little clues strewn about various Terry Brooks’ books that hinted at a connection between the epic fantasy of the former and the urban fantasy of the latter, it was with more than a little excitement that I picked up Armageddon's Children, knowing it to be the first of a trilogy that bridged the two series.

The Knights of the Word are in the service of the Lady, a powerful spirit that arms them with magical staffs and g... Read More

The Gypsy Morph: A perfect opportunity

The Gypsy Morph by Terry Brooks

To take a series that was written in the 1970s and connect it to a seemingly unrelated trilogy published in the 1990s is certainly quite a feat, but that's what Terry Brooks has done in GENESIS OF SHANNARA. From the typical fantasy world that was introduced in THE SWORD OF SHANNARA, published way back in 1977, Brooks has often hinted that the Four Lands were a post-apocalyptic portrayal of our own world, thousands of years into the future. Readers were looking out for clues to this when RUNNING WITH THE DEMON was published in 1998, which made significant use of the term "The Word," that had been previously used in the SHANNARA Read More

The Measure of the Magic: Brooks is now copying himself

The Measure of the Magic by Terry Brooks

"The Black Staff’s Bearer Comes Closer Each Day…"

By this stage there are so many books in Terry Brooks' SHANNARA series that each new installment requires a lengthy rundown of where it belongs in the sequence. After writing the original SHANNARA trilogy back in the 1970s, as well as a bevy of direct sequels, Brooks went on to write a seemingly-unrelated contemporary fantasy trilogy that introduced the Knights of the Word, champions of light armed with powerful staffs of black wood who fight against demonic forces that strive to bring about the end of the world.

Since then, Brooks has written a trilogy and a duology that bridges the gap between his SHANNARA series and THE WORD AND THE VOID trilogy. THE GENESIS OF SHANNARA trilogy and Read More

The Tangle Box: Sure to be a hit with fans

The Tangle Box by Terry Brooks

"Trust Not the Cat..."

As the fourth book in the Landover series, Terry Brooks's somewhat comedic-fantasy series (especially when compared to the serious Shannara saga), The Tangle Box continues Ben Holiday's adventures as king of a fairytale kingdom that he purchased in a shopping catalogue. Having successfully ruled Landover for several years, Ben is delighted when his sylph-wife Willow informs him that she is expecting their first child. However, the celebration is short-lived when the charlatan Horris Kew returns from exile in Ben's world to the Landover, with a new plan to cause havoc.

Having accidentally released a creature known as Gorse from a magical box, Kew becomes the unwitting pawn in its plan to seize control of Landover. Having lured the three most powerful individuals in the kingdom — King Holiday, the dragon Strabo and the witch Nightshade — Kew traps them within t... Read More

Running With the Demon: Brooks’ best novel

Running With the Demon by Terry Brooks

Did You Sell Your Soul for So Little?

Terry Brooks is best known for his Shannara series, which is immensely popular despite being rather obviously inspired by Tolkien's plots, characters and themes. For reasons even I can't explain, I've read quite a few of these novels (despite my disdain for them) and so I can say with a fair amount of confidence that Running With the Demon is undoubtedly Brooks's best novel. Moving away from his fantasy subworld of dwarfs, elves, magical talismans and plucky young farmboys-cum-heroes, the only thing Brooks hangs on to is his good against evil theme, placing it in contemporary America.

Here good and evil are repre... Read More

A Knight of the Word: Give your book money to the poor

A Knight of the Word by Terry Brooks

Even though two stars may seem like a bad rating, keep in mind that it technically means "fair." If stars were a grade in an essay, it would be C+ — a pass, but not a particularly brilliant one. Such is the case of A Knight of the Word, the sequel to Terry Brooks's Running with the Demon, a much more rewarding book.

The basic premise is a good against evil plot, embodied in the forces known as the Word and the Void. Both sides have creatures loyal to them, namely demons on behalf of the Void, and Knights for the Word. The present Knight of the Word is a man named John Ross, who lives a lonely existence; wandering an post-apocalyptic future in his dreams in order to find clues and answers to what transpired to prevent it from happening in the present (kinda like "Early Edition" and "Tru Calling" — remember those shows?) Read More

Street Freaks: A new genre for a well-known author

Street Freaks by Terry Brooks

Terry Brooks is best known for his fantasy novels (particularly the SHANNARA series) but with Street Freaks (2018) he tries his hand at science fiction for the first time. The results are ... fine. This is hardly a game-changing or genre-bending novel, but a fast-paced, reasonably interesting story that belongs as much in the dystopian genre as it does science fiction. Brooks's distinctive prose (clear but liable to repeat itself) is matched well with a collection of interesting characters and some fun world-building.

The story begins when teenager Ash Collins receives a warning from his father through his vidview, telling him "Go into the Red Zone. Go to Street Freaks. Don't wait ... "The connection ends before the message is complete, and minutes later Ash's apartment i... Read More