I’m a bit behind on this, but my general annoyance with The Sword of Shannara remains intact months later.
I had actually read this book many many many many moons ago. I was probably in Junior High or maybe High School, and looking back on the foggy memories I remember thinking that the book was.. Lacking. So, when I downloaded the book on MP3 to listen to on my walks to and from work, it was to give it another chance with a more developed less-adolescent brain.
For the purpose of full disclosure, I have not read nor listened to Lord of the Rings. Like a lot of people my LotR experience first was the crappy animated movies and the block buster from a few years back.. While I get it wasn’t 100% faithful to the book. That said, I think you get the gist of the story.
So when I say that Terry Brooks ripped off Tolkein in the obvious and painful of ways, I say this without a grain of salt.
ie: A no one, from no where, doing nothing suddenly gets thrust into a quest that has been brewing for a 1000 years. And with the guidance of a timeless spell caster and an object that bears no particularly special quality, manages to bring down an immortal and formless enemy. Add in ranger prince in the wild, a tougher than you expect maiden, a simple yet devoted travelling companion, and minor sorcerer who corrupts the mind of a local leader.
The only story element that he apparently did not adopt, was making Alanon(aka Gandalf, and wtf? “al anon”?) a force of deus ex machina. He know’ everything, always makes the right decisions (except when it’s plot-worthy not to), and has limited yet unlimited powers to save the day at the last minute.
While I am more than aware of the limits of plot possiblities, I still think that simply taking existing known story components and shaking them up a bit does not qualify as creativity nor story telling. I know that in my own *original* writing, the moment I’m afraid I am mirroring someone else’s work, I don’t just switch things a little. I flat out re-evaluate and re-work. While there are a billion stories I have never read, Lord of the Rings is so ubuquitous that it is the first reference of fantasy writing you go to, to make sure you aren’t copying, even if incidentally.
So, if there was any question, I give the SoS a few thumbs down, for being pure crap. Perhaps the life action movie will be just clips from LotR spliced together in a slightly different order.