It seems like television and film have turned more and more to literature for inspiration. One of last season’s book spin-offs was MTV’s “The Chronicles of Shannara,” which was based off of “The Elfstones of Shannara” by Terry Brooks. After seeing the show and complaining to my family about the multitude of differences from the book, I had to re-read the books to remind myself of how much I always enjoyed them.

I’ve been a fan of Terry Brooks’ fantasy novels since the late 1980s when I discovered them in middle school. (Don’t do the math, let’s just go with me as a child prodigy and being incredibly young for middle school.) The series were eagerly devoured and I’ve read the books a few times over the years. While the show on MTV is very violent and sexual at times, the books were more innocent, appropriate for a wider audience.

The Shannara books are very similar to the “Lord of the Rings” books, with dwarves, elves, magic, and quests filling both. Terry Brooks was heavily influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien and you can see it in the vivid descriptions and struggle of good against evil. There have been a multitude of entries in the Shannara world over the years, with prequels and sequels galore. Suggestions for reading order vary but I have to admit I’m old school and prefer to read the books in the order that the author wrote them. As such, I’ll always start off with “The Sword of Shannara,” which was written in 1977 but still stands as a solid fantasy read.

The last Druid, Allanon, comes to quiet Shady Vale looking for Shea Ohmsford, the last true heir of Shannara. Only Shea can wield the Sword of Shannara against the dark forces threatening their land. Shea must flee the Skull Bearers chasing him, find the sword and face the Warlock Lord to save not only himself but the world. The book is filled with adventure, magic, and creatures that leap off the page. The following books, “The Elfstones of Shannara” and “The Wishsong of Shannara” finish out the trilogy.

But unlike Tolkien, Terry Brooks has continued to write many more books. I’ve already worked my way through the original trilogy and I’m almost done with the next Shannara series in my latest read through. The Heritage of Shannara books are “The Scions of Shannara”, “The Druid of Shannara”, “The Elf Queen of Shannara”, and “The Talismans of Shannara,” all of which take place over a century after the first trilogy.

There are also several prequel series that fill in missing history along with other fantasy books by Terry Brooks. For fans of fantasy and/or “The Lord of the Rings,” the Shannara books are a great read that will keep you entertained for many pages. Hopefully the television show will continue to attract new readers to this outstanding author and his wonderful books.

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