Saturday, September 11, 2010

Series Review: The Heritage of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Although loosely connected Brook's first three novels were most defintely standalone and I was interested to see how he would handle the challenge of a series.

The first book does a reasonable job of setting things up; The shade of Allanon has charged the Ohmsfords with fulfilling quests in order to save Shannara from the threat of the federation and the mysterious Shadowen that are pulling their strings. The only major problem was the glaring sameness that some of the characters share with previous incarnations. Especially Par and Coll who are strikingly similar to Shea and Flick from the original Sword of Shanara and Morgan Leah who is just like all of his ancestors. Also all of the characters had far too obvious motivations to be all that interesting.

Brooks rectified this in the two subsequent novels by introducing a few rather intriguing characters, including Quickening and Pe Ell, who were definitely painted in shades of grey and kept me guessing right until the end. The greater focus provided by following only a few characters was also welcome and allowed major story arcs to be resolved, thus avoiding an obvious pitfall of many such series.

The final volume didn't tie things together as well as I would have liked with Brooks over relying on repetitive events to bring the characters together. How many times can these characters get captured? Wren and Walker Boh's developing characters really saved the show here for me.

Overall the Heritage of Shannara was a solid series but it is obvious at this stage in his development there were still certainly areas for Brooks to work on to complete the transition from standalone novels to writing a series. 7.25/10

The Scions of Shannara 7.25/10
The Druid of Shannara 8/10
The Elf Queen of Shannara 8/10
The Talismans of Shannara 7/10