When I first read Terry Brooks’s The Sword of Shannara, I was torn about it. On the one hand, it’s a total rip-off of Lord of the Rings. Change the Ring into a Sword, the hobbits into a couple of innocent, young brothers, Gandalf the Wizard into Allanon the Druid, and you don’t even have to change anything about Legolas, Gimli, and Sauron but their names.
On the other hand, it was completely entertaining. Tolkien-lite, maybe, but face it: there are parts of Tolkien that can use lightening.
When the sequel The Elfstones of Shannara came out, I liked it a lot more. Same entertainment value; original story. I got kind of sidetracked after that, but I’ve always wanted to revisit the world. (I did read the prequel First King of Shannara, but that was sort of like seeing the Star Wars prequels after already knowing what happens in the original trilogy. It was kind of neat, but didn’t move the story at all.)
My interest in things Shannara is renewed with the recent announcement that Del Rey books is planning to publish a Shannara graphic novel by Terry Brooks. Not an adaptation of an existing novel, but an all-new story that doesn’t exist in any other form. Del Rey says that retailers tell them readers don’t want adaptations, but new material. God bless retailers, and God bless Del Rey for listening to them.
Actually, Brooks is writing the story for the graphic novel (called Dark Wraith of Shannara), but Robert Napton will be adapting it to comic script form. Edwin David will be illustrating it. Both guys have done work for Image Comics.
Publishers Weekly did a nice story about all of this and you can also read more about it here. Brooks himself talks about it a little in this interview about his upcoming series Armageddon’s Children.
Neither the interview nor the website for the series says so, but Brooks’s description of Armageddon’s Children make it sound like something he mentions on his site. In the interview, Brooks asks the questions: “If this world that we’re living in actually follows its thread that it’s currently on and eventually implodes under the weight of its own mistakes, mismanagement and poor decision-making, what would happen? What would be left and how would the world rebuild? And what shape would it take?” On his website, Brooks says that he’s working on “a set that will eventually link the Great Wars of the Shannara pre-history to the advent of the First Council of Druids at Paranor.” As anyone who’s read any of the Shannara stuff knows, the “Great Wars of the Shannara pre-history” were, in fact, the result of a world that imploded “under the weight of its own mistakes, mismanagement and poor decision-making.” Even though the marketing is vague, the math is pretty easy.