Book Review – The Elfstones of Shannara

Book: The Elfstones of Shannara (Shannara Trilogy 2) by Terry Brooks
Release Date: July 12th 1982
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2,5 out of 5 stars




Ancient Evil threatens the Elves: The ancient tree created by long-lost Elven magic, is dying. When Wil Ohmsford is summoned to guard the Amberle on a perilous quest to gather a new seed for a new tree, he is faced with the Reaper, the most fearsome of all Demons. And Wil is without power to control them….


With the Shannara tv show having started showing at the start of September in the Netherlands I thought in August it was about time to toughen up and read The Elfstones of Shannara. Technically this is the second book in the original Shannara trilogy. However the tv show focuses on this second book and the rerelease is being marketed as the first book. I tried reading the ‘real’ first book a while ago but could not get through the obvious comparison to The Lord of the Rings in even the first 30 pages. I hoped this second book would be better. The Elfstones of Shannara can easily be read without having read the first book. There are references and things to do with the first book. But I didn’t feel like I actually miss anything. They are all explained enough for you to know what happened before. They feel like separate stories in the same universe. I did not completely enjoy reading this book as the rating indicates. The writing for me is very dry. There is no vibrance in the writing and it doesn’t bring the characters alive from the page like I am used to. Parts also feel there are too many details are being described. One thing I did like was how some of the scenery was described. I did have a clear idea of where it was taking part which is always important in a fantasy novel. The world in itself is great I feel. There is so much there still to discover. 4634726E-66EF-466F-B6AF-51236A567C8D_zpsloig9iah
As for the plot I felt that this lacked a certain complexity. The two story lines are very straight forward and there are no real surprises in it. It trudges on to the climax which doesn’t quite feel like one because it is all a bit too obvious what is coming.  Things like the traitor or the brother story line were obvious which directions they were going to go in. There was little subtly in the story telling.

The main characters each were okay to follow. I do feel like Will and Amberle could use some deepening in places. While we do have some background I still feel like we get such a one sided look at mostly Amberle. With Will I would have liked his healer background to be more used. It seemed so important to him at the start but then it got lost along the way. Allanon is the mystery mage character but that doesn’t work too well for me. I found him annoying with how he shrouds everything in mystery when I don’t think that was always needed. A good bit of honesty would have gotten him a long way as well.

I do see why they choose to make this one into a tv show. Because the story line is rather straight forward I feel they would have a lot of options to layer the story and the characters more than the book does. Or I hope that is the approach they will take to this without completely taking away from the world.

5 thoughts on “Book Review – The Elfstones of Shannara

  1. I bought a hardcover of The Sword Of Shannara from a SciFi/Fantasy book-of-the-month-club I belonged to back in the 80s. I still have it. Ha ha. I remember starting it and not liking it, but I don’t remember why I didn’t like it. Are you going to attempt the third book?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a feeling I would struggle with this too if I re- read it. I read the first three Shannara books when I was a teen, but trying to re- read the first one recently… didn’t work. lol some books you just outgrow. The TV show is okay but has lots of flaws too, one is it’s just silly and seems low budget at times- but that’s just me. Although to be fair I’ve only watched 5 episodes and couldn’t any more. Anywa sorry this one was a bit disappointing. I do think compared to modern fantasies this one is just too dry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah the first one really is a pain to get into. I couldn’t get past those first 30 pages or so. True, some do outgrow you. I think I might have outgrown The Magicians by Lev Grossman.
      I like the tv show so far. More exciting than the book. 😉


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