Review: The Elfstones of Shannara

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This is the second book in the original Shannara trilogy by Terry Brooks, published in 1982. Yes, it’s an old book.

This book can be read as a standalone novel with almost no knowledge of the rest of the series. This is one of the few things I can praise Brooks for.

The plot of this book is remarkably similar to the first one. A member of the Ohmsford family must team up with the druid Allanon because the Four Lands need a hero once again. This time a magic tree that was keeping an army of demons from invading our world is dying out, and our heroes need to save it to prevent a demonic invasion (Technically, they fail).

The cast of characters is slightly larger in this book, most of them picked up as the heroes make their inevitable journey. And the character development is also better, for the brief time we spend with them. The writing style is pretty good, and there is an interesting plot twist towards the end.

The plot however, is more then a little disappointing to anyone who had read the previous Shannara books. It’s like Brooks is building the story around a scaffold. The three main players are the Ohmsford, the druid and the elven royality. The story consists of the elven royals struggling to stop the evil army from conquering the Four Lands (Well the elven army does the actual work) while the Ohmsford and the druid race to find some magical solution or artifact that can vanquish the evil. It all builds up to a climactic battle and the evil is vanquished in a nick of time. There is a feeling of having been here before. The plot of the previous two books was almost exactly this. Even the original and creative elements in the plot become bland when it’s fitted into this worn out scaffold. The only thing that caught me off guard was the plot twist at the end.

I would say this is an ok book. Not good, not great, but not bad either.

I would recommend this book if you are a fan of the series or if you are reader of fantasy fiction looking for a fun read without engaging your higher brain functions. Then you will enjoy it.

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