The Sword of Shannara (Shannara Series #1)

The Sword of Shannara (Shannara Series #1)

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The Sword of Shannara is the first volume of the classic series that has becomeone of the most popular fantasy tales of all time.

Long ago, the wars of the ancient Evil ruined the world. In peaceful Shady Vale, half-elfin Shea Ohmsford knows little of such troubles. But the supposedly dead Warlock Lord is plotting to destroy everything in his wake.The sole weapon against this Power of Darkness is the Sword of Shannara, which can be used only by a trueheir of Shannara. On Shea, last of the bloodline,rests the hope of all the races.

Thus begins the enthralling Shannara epic,a spellbinding tale of adventure, magic, and myth . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345314253
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/28/1983
Series: Shannara Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 736
Sales rank: 33,088
Product dimensions: 4.22(w) x 6.86(h) x 1.57(d)
Lexile: 1160L (what's this?)

About the Author

Terry Brooks has thrilled readers for decades with his powers of imagination and storytelling. He is the author of more than thirty books, most of which have been New York Times bestsellers. He lives with his wife, Judine, in the Pacific Northwest.


Pacific Northwest and Hawaii

Date of Birth:

January 8, 1944

Place of Birth:

Sterling, Illinois


B.A. in English, Hamilton College, 1966; J.D., Washington and Lee University

Read an Excerpt

The sun was already sinking into the deep green of the hills to the west of the valley, the red and gray-pink of its shadows touching the corners of the land, when Flick Ohmsford began his descent. The trail stretched out unevenly down the northern slope, winding through the huge boulders which studded the rugged terrain in massive clumps, disappearing into the thick forests of the lowlands to reappear in brief glimpses in small clearings and thinning spaces of woodland. Flick followed the familiar trail with his eyes as he trudged wearily along, his light pack slung loosely over one shoulder. His broad, windburned face bore a set, placid look, and only the wide gray eyes revealed the restless energy that burned beneath the calm exterior. He was a young man, though his stocky build and the grizzled brown hair and shaggy eyebrows made him look much older. He wore the loose-fitting work clothes of the Vale people and in the pack he carried were several metal implements that rolled and clanked loosely against one another.
There was a slight chill in the evening air, and Flick clutched the collar of his open wool shirt closer to his neck. His journey ahead lay through forests and rolling flatlands, the latter not yet visible to him as he passed into the forests, and the darkness of the tall oaks and somber hickories reached upward to overlap and blot out the cloudless night sky. The sun had set, leaving only the deep blue of the heavens pinpointed by thousands of friendly stars. The huge trees shut out even these, and Flick was left alone in the silent darkness as he moved slowly along the beaten path. Because he had traveled this same route a hundred times, the young man noticed immediately the unusual stillness that seemed to have captivated the entire valley this evening. The familiar buzzing and chirping of insects normally present in the quiet of the night, the cries of the birds that awoke with the setting of the sun to fly in search of food—all were missing. Flick listened intently for some sound of life, but his keen ears could detect nothing. He shook his head uneasily. The deep silence was unsettling, particularly in view of the rumors of a frightening black-winged creature sighted in the night skies north of the valley only days earlier.
He forced himself to whistle and turned his thoughts back to his day’s work in the country just to the north of the Vale, where outlying families farmed and tended domestic livestock. He traveled to their homes every week, supplying various items that they required and bringing bits of news on the happenings of the Vale and occasionally the distant cities of the deep Southland. Few people knew the surrounding countryside as well as he did, and fewer still cared to travel beyond the comparative safety of their homes in the valley. Men were more inclined to remain in isolated communities these days and let the rest of the world get along as best it could. But Flick liked to travel outside the valley from time to time, and the outlying homesteads were in need of his services and were willing to pay him for the trouble. Flick’s father was not one to let an opportunity pass him by where there was money to be made, and the arrangement seemed to work out well for all concerned.
A low-hanging branch brushing against his head caused Flick to start suddenly and leap to one side. In chagrin, he straightened himself and glared back at the leafy obstacle before continuing his journey at a slightly quicker pace. He was deep in the lowland forests now and only slivers of moonlight were able to find their way through the thick boughs overhead to light the winding path dimly. It was so dark that Flick was having trouble finding the trail, and as he studied the lay of the land ahead, he again found himself conscious of the heavy silence. It was as if all life had been suddenly extinguished, and he alone remained to find his way out of this forest tomb. Again he recalled the strange rumors. He felt a bit anxious in spite of himself and glanced worriedly around. But nothing stirred on the trail ahead nor moved in the trees about him, and he felt embarrassingly relieved.
Pausing momentarily in a moonlit clearing, he gazed at the fullness of the night sky before passing abruptly into the trees beyond. He walked slowly, picking his way along the winding path that had narrowed beyond the clearing and now seemed to disappear into a wall of trees and bushes ahead. He knew that it was merely an illusion, but found himself glancing about uneasily all the same. A few moments later, he was again on a wider trail and could discern bits of sky peeking through the heavy trees. He was almost to the bottom of the valley and about two miles from his home. He smiled and began whistling an old tavern song as he hurried on. He was so intent on the trail ahead and the open land beyond the forest that he failed to notice the huge black shadow that seemed to rise up suddenly, detaching itself from a great oak tree on his left and moving swiftly toward the path to intercept him. The dark figure was almost on top of the Vale man before Flick sensed its presence looming up before him like a great, black stone which threatened to crush his smaller being. With a startled cry of fear he leaped aside, his pack falling to the path with a crash of metal, and his left hand whipped out the long thin dagger at his waist. Even as he crouched to defend himself, he was stayed by a commanding arm raised above the figure before him and a strong, yet reassuring voice that spoke out quickly.
“Wait a moment, friend. I’m no enemy and have no wish to harm you. I merely seek directions and would be grateful if you could show me the proper path.”
Flick relaxed his guard a bit and tried to peer into the blackness of the figure before him in an effort to discover some semblance of a human being. He could see nothing, however, and he moved to the left with cautious steps in an attempt to catch the features of the dark figure in the tree-shadowed moonlight.
“I assure you, I mean no harm,” the voice continued, as if reading the Valeman’s mind. “I did not mean to frighten you, but I didn’t see you until you were almost upon me, and I was afraid you might pass me by without realizing I was there.”
The voice stopped and the huge black figure stood silently, though Flick could feel the eyes following him as he edged about the path to put his own back to the light. Slowly the pale moonlight began to etch out the stranger’s features in vague lines and blue shadows. For a long moment the two faced one another in silence, each studying the other, Flick in an effort to decide what it was he faced, the stranger in quiet anticipation.
Then suddenly the huge figure lunged with terrible swiftness, his powerful hands seizing the Valeman’s wrists, and Flick was lifted abruptly off the solid earth and held high, his knife dropping from nerveless fingers as the deep voice laughed mockingly up at him.
“Well, well, my young friend! What are you going to do now, I wonder? I could cut your heart out on the spot and leave you for the wolves if I chose, couldn’t I?”
Flick struggled violently to free himself, terror numbing his mind to any thought but that of escape. He had no idea what manner of creature had subdued him, but it was far more powerful than any normal man and apparently prepared to dispatch Flick quickly. Then abruptly, his captor held him out at arm’s length, and the mocking voice became icy cold with displeasure.
“Enough of this, boy! We have played our little game and still you know nothing of me. I’m tired and hungry and have no wish to be delayed on the forest trail in the chill of the evening while you decide if I am man or beast. I will set you down that you may show me the path. I warn you—do not try to run from me or it will be the worse for you.”
The strong voice trailed off and the tone of displeasure disappeared as the former hint of mockery returned with a short laugh.
“Besides,” the figure rumbled as the fingers released their iron grip and Flick slipped to the path, “I may be a better friend than you realize.”
“The figure moved back a step as Flick straightened himself, rubbing his wrists carefully to restore the circulation to his numbed hands. He wanted to run, but was certain that the stranger would catch him again and this time finish him without further thought. He leaned over cautiously and picked up the fallen dagger, returning it to his belt.

What People are Saying About This

Frank Herbert

Marvelous! I enjoyed every minute of it.

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The Sword of Shannara (Shannara Series #1) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 559 reviews.
Merickel-books More than 1 year ago
Some people write off this series because of this book and they are truly missing out because this is one of the best series ever written. The complaint is that this book is too similar to the Lord of the Rings, and the truth is that, well it is ON PURPOSE. Terry Brooks was actually friends with Tolkien and this book was originally written personally for Tolkien as a gift. Tolkien liked it so much that he convinced Brooks to publish it. Despite the similarities the book is able to stand on it's own and the series is completely original.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books that I have ever read. Full of action and adventure. If you like J.R.R. Tolkiens books, you will like this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Sword of Shannara is an ok and at times slow read .that being said , it sets the scene for the best and ongoing fantasy series on earth .
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is pleasant, and at times compelling. The power of the Sword of Shannara was imaginative. There is a nice air of fantasy. The mechanics of Brooks' writing, however, are somewhat amateur. I found his description, while occasionally imaginative, to be a little mundane and comically repetitive. Everyone's face is 'impassive' and Allanon's expression is always a 'mocking grin'. It becomes very silly after a while. The elfstones were a bit of the 'Deus ex Machina' - able to solve just about any problem. Another annoying characteristic of his writing is that, as soon as a character becomes totally despondent and hopeless about a situation, that situation resolves and they triumph despite their doubts. After this happens about twenty times, it becomes very predictable. Also, his tactic of breaking chapters into cliffhangers is a weak attempt at infusing unpredictability into this novel. Nevertheless, a good book for younger kids. Some good values such as loyalty and companionship are expressed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book is amazing. Love the adventure and action. Thank you Terry Brooks!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It made me so sad when Shea went missing. But then he was okay! Also, I prefer Shannara to Lord of the Rings because it moves at a faster pace and has more modern writing. I still am a Tolkein fan, but it was harder to get through.
GrahamCDowns More than 1 year ago
I eventually decided to give this book a read, since my brother is head over heels in love with the Shannara series. Every year there's a new Shannara book on his Christmas and Birthday list, so I decided to crack open the first one and see what all the fuss was about. I must be honest, I wasn't particularly impressed. This book is long--and not in the sense of word count; I've read books with higher word counts, in far less time. This one is long-winded. I simply could not get into it. Often while reading I would "zone out" for pages and pages, and then have no idea what was going on later in the story. The characters aren't particularly memorable, and their manner of speaking is inconsistent. That, coupled with the author's infuriating habit of using "the other" to refer to a speaker after the first speaker has just finished a two page diatribe, makes it insanely difficult to keep track of who's in a particular scene. There are more twists and turns in this book than a snakes and ladders game, and it's frequently also not entirely clear where one scene or point in time ends and other starts (see what I did there?). I've read many people bemoaning how derivative this book is of Lord of the Rings. I have to say, I didn't find that at all. Granted, there were certain small sections of this book which reminded me of lots of things I'd read in lots of books before, including but not limited to Lord of the Rings. However, many of those books were actually written AFTER this one, so which is derivative of which? Tolkein was the father of modern fantasy anyway, so all fantasy written since will always tend to have a semblance of familiarity with his books. Besides, I wasn't in love with Lord of the Rings anyway. There's not much more to say about this book. It's a decent story, I guess, but I found it those parts I was awake for a bit predictable. If you can follow the plot and all the characters (again, of which there are far too many, in my opinion), you might enjoy it. I didn't particularly, though.
Clurb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's not that I hated this, it's just that I could not bring myself to take it seriously when it was so evidently just a LotR rehash.
vampluvr7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite Fantasy Novel ever!! I like it better than the Lord of the Rings (although those are a great story, just very dry at some points)!! It's a great story about a young half-elf that must find a legendary sword to stop the evil god!!
reading_fox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A quite clever idea completely spoiled by some very poor writing. In places, just once or twice, it is good, in a few others, absorbing, the remaining thousand or so pages, drag horrendously. This is possibly the worst example of telling rather than showing that I've ever read, but fortunetly the inventiveness of the world (rather than the plot) raises it someway above being the very worst fantasy book I've ever read.Plot - A Magic Trinket is required to overcome a Big Bad Guy. You can already guess that a Quest is required to find it. There will be a boy and a girl and an old wise man who does magic. There are. Because this is an omnibus with the sequel the plot is repeated. Almost identically. No-body of any conesquence dies. Even when they really really should. But then there is hardly anybody of consequence in the book. There is no character development at all. Barely any characters, just wooden people cast without emotions, dialogue or any but he most limited actions. Even so it is possible to write and entertain the reader in this manner - but the action centric plot must be really dynamic and thunder along page tearingly. This doesn't. The action spurts along in fits and pauses, and introspection (ish) and lots of exposition, followed by another dribble of action adn more exposition. Finally there are a few consecutive pages of action before more pages of exposition wrapping it all up, and ensuring all the characters get the happy ending they deserve. The leading character in both books is a Druid called Allanon because he goes on and on. Few of the other characters carry over. Allonan unfortunetly doesn't have any character at all, or action, and is merely called upon to set people on a path before he fades unmysteriously back into the shadows. The only interest is the world story - Set on Earth after a cataclysm has destroyed mankind's science and technology. Man just about survived and splintered into man, gnomes, dwarves and Trolls - all still human, but shaped by the lands they grew in, and named after the faerie races they resembled. Only the Elves existed unique and isolate. Much more could have been doen wih this fascinating concept but instead it is just grafted onto a standard pasterol fantasy world. The biggest sin o all is that there is no continuity in the towns, no thoughts at all at how they would survive except as places for the heros to pass through. The Elfstones works much better, than the Sword and has fewer of the faults, but they are all still present. Although this is a vastly famous series, it is even worse than Eddings, and a very poor introduction to how fantasy can be written by artists such as Tolkein, Donaldson, Wurts or Cherryh (or many many others). Go and read them, leave this derrivative dreck alone.
fuzzi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book when it first came out, late 1970s. At the time I belonged to the Literary Guild book club, so I got this book 'hot off the press' in a hardcover edition.Boy was I disappointed. The more I read, the more I kept saying "What a ripoff!" referring to "The Lord of the Rings". The entire book seemed nothing but a cheap and not well disguised copy of Tolkien's work.I finished reading it, but gave it away soon afterwards. I have not read any other of Terry Brooks' works, having been soured on his ability to create by the mediocrity of this book.
paeonia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended as a classic of the fantasy genre. It is about twice as long as it needs to be. Brooks apparently thinks that anything worth saying is worth saying more than once, with as many words as possible. Obvious debt to Tolkien. I will NOT be looking for the numerous sequels and spinoffs.
bfertig on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I remember reading this book while happening to be learning about the heroic outline at the same time and realizing that the outline summarized in 1 page what this book took 700 to say. There were no real twists or turns or deviations from this outline as far as I could see, and I was in middle school. It was compelling enough to finish, but it may also have been that I just wanted to say I'd read a book that long. There really wasn't anything new or different from Tolkein in this series. It may be classic fantasy, but at this point the book is cliche.
Homechicken on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can't remember if I read this book growing up or not. I do, however, remember reading the Elfstones book. In any case, this book was okay, but not the best fantasy I've ever delved in to. The writing was all right but not spectacular, the characters good but not great, the story okay but not epic. It's quite long for not being terrific, too. It seemed just a bit predictable to me.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you've read The Lord of the Rings, then congratulations, you don't need to read this book. Terry Brook, in the later additions to his Shannara series, has drifted away from the heavy Tolkienoid style apparent in this first novel.Reading SoS left me with the impression that I had read a Lord of the Rings, only whoever was taking the manuscript to the publisher dropped the pages on the floor, and managed to scoop them back up in a different sort of order. Each character in SoS is practically a direct match for one in LotR. The protagonist, Shea, is clearly a Frodo. His loving and faithful stepbrother/sidekick Flick is an obvious Sam. They mysterious Allanon is a clear Gandalf, the swarthy dwarf Hendel is a Gimli, and Brona, the Warlock Lord, could be any combination of Sauron, Saruman, and the chief Nazgul, to name a few. The titular sword, of course, could arguably be the One Ring.Though this book was effectively a rehash of Tolkien, as is much of the post-Tolkien fantasy, with the exception of the Sword & Sorcery buffs, and the emerging Urban Fantasy front, it was not horrible. At times, yes, I was cringing at the similarities between Brooks and Tolkien, and wondering how he could write such a book with a clean conscience. In the end, though, I didn't despise it enough to send it to Half Price Books, so that means that it does have some redeemable qualities, or at least enough redeemable qualities to take up as much shelf space as it does and not be converted into a fraction of a dollar.You might enjoy it if LotR was "too hard" for you. You might enjoy it if you don't want a challenge, but want to look smart by reading a thick book. You won't enjoy it if you hold Tolkien sacrosanct, and especially if you even eschew the books edited by Christopher Tolkien. Congratulations, you're a purist, and this book is most definitely not for you.
Darla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Finally finished reading this one with the boys. It does have a LOT of similarities to LOTR, but it's more readable.
adb42 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The very first Shannara novel, which I finished in one go - after Terry Brooks had finished all the introductions (100 pages).
SkepChris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was Terry's first book and it clearly shows that he copied characters and entire plot sections from Tolkien's Ring adventures. Especially in the first chapters this is very annoying as it makes you focus on the copying rather than on the adventure. And while I would not bother to mention it if it were more his own work, now I clearly noticed how this book is a chain of coincidentally subsequent events while JRRT wrote a logical consistent story, so much that it even is connected with his other books. The Sword of Shannara can be gripping, enough to lose sleep, but I will soon forget it and I will pass it on through book-crossing now.
SlySionnach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first of Brooks Shannara series. A classic sword and sorcery type of tale, it has hints of Lord of the Rings inside of its pages (but what fantasy book doesn't, after all). I loved this book and thought it was a great beginning to an amazing series.
nursewidener on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Older fantasy book that I have just discovered. I enjoyed this book, it descriptive nature of characters and background. The book starts out in the natural order of most great fantasy novels. The hero is young inexperience and totally pivotal in the story line. If you enjoy fantasy books that takes a young person and makes them a hero even when there are better ones in the story you'll enjoy this book. I will continue read this series and pray that they stay just as interesting and "keep me up too late at night" books
Joseph700 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I forced my way through this book, because Terry Brooks is prolific and has made a name for himself. But to my way of thinking, the language was cardboard, and the story did not redeem it. I may try one of his later books to see if he evolved from these more than humble beginnings.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've heard this book compared to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings--it's comparable all right, and it's not in Sword of Shannara's favor. I've read the book was the first fantasy to make it on the New York Times bestseller list. I can only speculate it was a matter of timing--that in the late seventies the fantasy reading public was hungry for an epic fantasy along Lord of the Rings lines--and here we have a quest, a Dark Lord and a group of heroes traveling together in almost a one to one correspondence with the Fellowship of the Ring including a wizard, a dwarf, more than one elf and more than one Prince of the blood. It's far too easy to match up the Tolkien characters with their Brooks counterparts: Gandalf (Allanon), Sam (Flick), Frodo (Shea), Sauron (Brona), Aragorn (Balinor), Boromir (Menion), Gimli (Hendel), Legolas (Durin and Dayel--brothers who are indistinguishable and interchangeable), Gollum (Orl Fane) and the Nazgûl (Skull Bearers). Even places and matters of plot can be matched point for point. I can't recall ever reading such a blatant rip-off.Except that compared to a Gandolf or Frodo, these characters come across as stock, the plot and themes as shallow as a video game, and unlike Tolkien, who has memorable scenes and lines, the writing here isn't even workmanlike, with a shoddy omniscient point of view and a style that hits every branch on the clunker tree out of guides of how not to write.I only stayed beyond page 50 of this because I wanted to give what I know some see as a beloved book a fair chance. Then I pushed beyond 200 pages out of curiosity if a female would get a speaking part--because at that point, were it not for a brief scene with a female monster that almost traps one character and a mention by another character he had a sweetie at home (and that the central character once had a mother) I might have thought they only had one gender in this fantasy world. Even Tolkien, who I thought slighted female characters, did much, much better than that. (Even books set on ships at sea and monasteries tend to do better than that). Finally, a female character did show up--on page 456 of 726--naturally to be rescued. I gave up. I will not be reading more Terry Brooks.
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Blech!!!A blatant rip-off of the Lord of the Rings, including characters and plot. The only thing that wasn't lifted was the ability to write convincing dialog or create sympathetic characters.I have no idea if Brooks was merely an unimaginative and incompetent writer, or if he was just cynically cashing in on a successful formula as one of the first to publish epic fantasy post-Tolkien, but this book is not worth the time you'll spend reading it.
Imshi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I unfortunately read this *right* after reading and falling in love with The Lord of the Rings, so that might color my impression a bit but...I found it be be far too similar to be enjoyable. It follows the characters and plot of LOTR very closely, and while I still would have enjoyed that if the writing had been spectacular, it wasn't good enough to make up for the blatant copying. I read to a little more than halfway through and wasn't able to finish.
brian_irons on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was one of the first books I ever read that I wasn't forced to. I found it in an empty classroom in school when I was in eighth grade. It has survived this whole time. What a wonderful book.