I am very close to writing off most fantasy novels. Only Sunshine has saved the genre from a complete trashing. It is books like the Sword of Shannara that make me throw up my hands and want to give up. Perhaps I am being unfair, maybe something written lately will be better. Maybe.
In priority order this is what I disliked about this book:
- Lack of women
- Lame central conceit of the stupid sword
- Basically the entire way it was written
So lack of women. Of course fails the test. It takes until page 400ish for an actual woman with speaking parts to appear (the only woman in 664 pages). Until then there are references to dead mothers (those of three main protagonists) and one wife-to-be. It's so completely telegraphed what was going to happen as well. Of course the guy who rescues her is going to fall in love with her and vice versa.
But it's RIDICULOUS. It only takes TWO FUCKING DAYS for them to fall in love. Also, he has such lovely things to say to her such as: "Don't ask questions now, just do what I say." She's mainly there to hang off his arm from there on out. Utterly contemptible. Pretty sure she has less to say than the troll who can't fucking talk.
ALSO. All the men, while younger, are still all men. Menion, the rescuer and future Yewtree suspect, makes a huge song and dance about her being a girl. A girl. Ewww.
Length. 664 pages. Of an utter boring, predictable, badly-ripped-off version of Lord of the Rings. There's a reddit AMA where everyone's like "no dude, you totally didn't rip off Lord of the Rings". They are wrong.
BORINGNESS. So boring. So so so so so boring. Let's walk this way for awhile. Something unsatisfactory from a plot perspetive happens. Now lets walk this way for awhile. Oh look more walking. Even more walking. How about some more walking. Okay, more walking it is. More walking? Yes. More fucking walking. Walking with more people, less people, now alone, now more people again. Hooray more walking!
Okay, massive spoiler alert. But not really because you are much better off never reading this book. Unless you're really interested in walking as narrative.
The plot revolves around Shea, a half-elf, half-human who has to get the Sword of Shannara to defeat the evil Druid Brona. There are 2 elves, a dwarf, a druid, and three other humans who go with him on this adventure to find the sword. He ends up getting separated from all of them, continues to search for the sword with another human and a troll, chasing after a gnome who tricked them and started heading towards Skull Castle. Yes. Skull Castle. I wanted to say Skull fucking Castle, but that would be a different book altogether.
When Shea finally gets the sword, the bad guy comes right to him and Shea easily stabs him and wins. But the power of the sword is...the power to reveal the truth about a person. So Brona, evil druid, was very old and basically became an evil thing, mostly in spirit form. And the thing that kills him is that ultimate realisation that he was dead or whatever. I'M PRETTY SURE HE KNEW THIS ALREADY, BEING ABLE TO DISCORPORATE AND BEING ALL MISTY AND SHIT.
The other weird thing is that apparently this very quaint medieval world has happened post-industraliation. But there was a massive war and stuff, so everyone forgot how to build cars and shit and re-learned castles and swords. Fuck off. Also...instead of remembering science, they went beyond science to....SORCERY.
The thing that really was awful though was just the whole book really. The writing was horrible. I mean, you're supposed to show us through actions and plot that someone has character development. Not just have a paragraph telling us that some realises he's grown as a person.
An actual example:
"Flick had changed considerably sine his first meeting with Allanon weeks earlier in Shady Vale, developing an inner strength and maturity and a confidence about himself her had never believed himself capable of sustaining."
YOU CAN'T JUST DO CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT IN A PARAGRAPH LIKE THAT. IT'S NOT HOW IT WORKS.
In that sentence you also get the compressed time frame, everything happens in a matter of weeks. Also, all the walking is in a matter of days. It's like this whole world is the size of friggin' London. Except there are several kingdoms. It's so ridiculous. It make no sense.
Finally, all the characters are fucking idiots and should have all died numerous deaths. The plot is so transparent that having them not grasp onto the fact that a gnome is concealing a sword amongst a bunch of other swords when a evil spirit thing fucking moments earlier says things like "I CAN SENSE THE SWORD LIKE RIGHT FUCKING HERE GUYS, WHERE THE FUCK IS IT?" (I paraphrase) is absurd.
When everyone says to you "your brother has gone crazy and is being advised by a guy who says you're a traitor, don't confront them alone" YOU SHOULDN'T WALK INTO A TRAP ALONE. IDIOT.
I wish they had all died and there was a bleak ending where the Skull Kingdom actually did just skull fuck the lot of them.
OMG. NEVER READ THIS BOOK.
-5/5 for wasting my time and making me hate the written word.