Terry Brooks, long-time author of the Shannara series, is venturing into the eBooks market with a new short story in the Shannara Universe exclusively for the Kindle.
He will be releasing 3 total stories over the course of the year in partnership with Amazon to see how the new digital distribution opportunities empower authors to write and publish their content.
The Shannara books are quick reads and demand little of the reader as the stories are straightforward hero-journeys that stay away from complex character relationships, political mechanizations or mysterious motivations/initiatives for the main characters; a trend which has become exceedingly popular over the past 15 years. They’re pure popcorn fantasy that feel like a nostalgic throwback to our youth (when many of us originally read these books).
Many I know who once read these books have left the series behind in their youth – so this new short story will have less relevance for those who have spent little time lately with the series. Or it might serve as a quick reminder what fun the books are and pull them back in. Fingers crossed!
— Spoiler Free Review —
The first of three short stories in this series is entitled “Paladins of Shannara”. It is a brief glimpse into the world of Shannara and is set shortly before the events of the original “Sword of Shannara” (published in 1977). The main character of the story is Allanon, the mysterious wizard-like Druid from the original trilogy, and a fan favorite of many. The story also serves as a bridge between “The First King of Shannara” (published in 1997, 20 years after the original book) and “The Sword of Shannara”.
The story is quick, light, and relatively free of any deep character insights or major reveals that would normally appeal to fans. Based upon the description and the premise I had hoped for more and was somewhat disappointed. There was great potential for the story to show more than it did but in the end it felt too short and more of a light skimming into the world of Shannara. The story is for fans-only and would be of little use to persuade a non-fan to pick up the series. While the subject of the story would be irrelevant to a non-fan, the subject matter lacks depth and an intriguing hook. I would most likely use one of my favorite chapters from “The Druid of Shannara” to convert a non-fan than “Paladins”.
In the end, the price tag and time investment is low and the story reminds us how far we have come as Shannara readers by bringing us back to the beginning of the whole series. The title “Paladins” seems to indicate that the other 2 stories might involve other characters (since the title is plural) or continue on with this same story arc. Either way, I’ll be fan-excited to read the other 2!
You can read more about Paladins of Shannara from Terry Brooks’ website:
In other Terry Brooks news…
The new novel, Dark Legacy of Shannara: Wards of Faerie, hits shelves on 8/21/12. It is geared towards those who have been involved with the series for a long time as it follows a continuing set of characters. For more info go here:
Lastly, a fan recently compared Sword of Shannara (and others in the series) against The Lord of the Rings books. The excellent summary is very open and direct in its comparisons. It is intended for those who have read the books and not meant to be reviewed prior to reading many of the novels: