Posts Tagged ‘Shannara’

Well, I’m Going to Do It

We talked a few weeks back about Shannara and the TV show and how it was the series that got me into epic fantasy, and how the series is complete now so I could, if so inclined, go back and read the series in chronological order.

I thought very hard about this.

The first story, chronologically, is a short story called “Imaginary Friends,” originally published in 1991 and re-published in 2013.

So I hunted down the anthology from 2013, and not only is it included, but it’s the first story. Mission accomplished!

(I am, now, however, faced with a decision. This is a very large book. Do I read the whole thing? There’s not really any reason not to, except that I had to go through the library loan program to get it, which means I am limited in the amount of times I can renew it.)

(The other thing is there is another Shannara short story, later in the book, which is 25th in the chronology. Do I read it now and then read it again when I get to it? Do I skip it? I am aware that this is a stupid problem, yet here we are.)

It was a cute little story, more urban fantasy than anything. I don’t quite see how it connects in, and even in the intro Terry Brooks notes that it was written before he’d really solidified the ideas that would become the Word and the Void trilogy, which comes next chronologically. The first book of those is Running with the Demon, which I am 90% sure I own somewhere. Just got to find it now.

Anyway, apparently I’m doing this. I imagine it will not be fast, but I’ll check in with you guys from time to time.

Now, to go find that book.

Back to My Roots

I think I’ve told you guys this before, but the very first adult high fantasy book I ever read was Wishsong of Shannara, by Terry Brooks. I was 12 at the time, and I got the book out of my elementary school library. It seems like kind of a weird choice for an elementary school library–while it’s not Game of Thrones or Wheel of Time-sized fantasy, it’s still sizeable–but, then, I have run into people who think all fantasy is for children, so who knows.

I’ve read a lot of the Shannara books over the years, though not all of them. Terry Brooks has trucked on, through the years, and I have fallen behind. I read all three of the original trilogy (Sword, Elfstones, Wishsong) and the four books that make up the “Heritage” (Scions, Druid, Elf Queen, Talismans). I have and have read the graphic novel Dark Wraith of Shannara, which goes after Wishsong chronologically, and I read First King of Shannara shortly after it came out in 1996. I’ve also read Ilse Witch and Antrax, and someday I hope to read the third book of that particular trilogy.

That all means nothing if you have not read the Shannara books yourself, but basically I’m about 20 years behind on the series.

From what I understand, the last book planned for the world came out in October, so I could, in theory, read all gazillion books now. Perhaps in chronological order instead of publication order, since I’m so far behind.

ANYWAY. Shannara was my gateway into high fantasy, and even while I haven’t read the books over the years, I’ve never forgotten it.

In 2016 MTV started a television series called The Shannara Chronicles, which lasted a sad two seasons. It’s always been on my radar, so when my husband last week said, “We should watch this show I found,” I was totally on board.

We’ve only watched the first two-part episode but, man, everything has rushed back. When people show up on screen, I’m like “I bet that’s X.” I keep up a fairly constant commentary (“Oh, we’re jumping right into the post-apocalyptic setting. It took me a few books to figure that out.”) and talk about plot choices (“I always thought it was weird that they decided to start with Elfstones”). My husband didn’t know what he was getting himself into.

Isn’t that always how it goes, though? I can’t necessarily tell you the plot of a book I read last year, but even though I haven’t read a Shannara book in probably at least ten years, if not fifteen, they definitely left an impression.

Have you ever run into that, squiders? Something you read or watched when you were little (or younger at least) that has lingered even without you revisiting it?

Also, while we’re on the subject, have you watched The Shannara Chronicles? What did you think?

(As kind of a funny story, I went to a book signing by Terry Brooks at some point. Well, I think I’ve seen him a few times, but I think this most recent time had to be in the early 2010s, because the television show had been optioned. And there I learned that I had been pronouncing Shannara wrong for the fifteen-ish years I’d been reading the series. Good times.)

My Gateway Novel: Wishsong of Shannara

Whenever we find something we like–a TV show, a band, a sport, whatever–there’s always something that introduces us to whatever it is, our “gateway,” if you will, that we never forget, especially if whatever turns out to be transformative in some way.

(For example, I can remember that the song that introduced me to my favorite genre of music, symphonic metal, was Nightwish’s End of All Hope, and that it was the background music for a Twilight Princess fanvid. Why I was watching Zelda fanvids, I don’t remember, but I will never forget that song.)

For me, I can still remember the first fantasy novel I ever read, the one that hooked me into a genre that has never let me go. I was 12, perusing the shelves at my elementary school library. I’d read some scifi at that point–A Wrinkle in Time, a children’s book that I really loved whose title escapes me (something with Puck?)–and was, of course, a Trekkie raised by Trekkie parents, but I hadn’t touched fantasy. The books we read in school were contemporary, and often involved children lost in the wilderness (like Hatchet or Julie of the Wolves). Or they were historical fiction.

I can even remember the shelf it was on. My elementary school library had a reading treehouse in one corner, and it was on the bookcase next to that, on the far lefthand side, second shelf from the bottom. I don’t know what possessed me to pull it out. It was a big book, over 500 pages, certainly bigger than anything else I had read.

But pull it out I did. The Wishsong of Shannara by Terry Brooks. And I took it out and read it and have never looked back.

It had magic and evil and loyalty and consequences and the hero was a girl just like me.

I’ve read a lot of the Shannara books over the years (of the original trilogy, I actually like The Sword of Shannara better), and, of course, have branched out into many other authors and other subgenres of fantasy, but I will always remember my first. And I sometimes wonder if, since I found high/epic fantasy first, that has colored my likes, since that is my favorite subgenre.

(Another fantasy book I read early on–the next year, as part of a local author event, where we all read a book by a local author and then got to meet same author–was T.A. Barron’s The Ancient One, which is part portal fantasy, part contemporary. Female protagonist again. Excellent book. Involves trees, which is probably why I like it so much.)

(The year after that we had to read Will Hobbs, and I was pretty done with “Boy survives in the wild” books by that point, so that was less awesome.)

Can you remember the book that got you into scifi or fantasy? Any other gateways you’d like to share?