First King of Shannara by Terry Brooks

So this is the prequel to the original Shannara trilogy. The main events are already known if you’ve read those, but I still found it interesting.

In chronological order this is the next book after Legends duology and is set around five hundred years before Sword. I remember hoping while reading Legends that we would see the Shannara world as we know it come into being, and though there were elements, it was really still just a post apocalyptic world and nothing like this. This is the world of Shannara as we know it from the original books.

This is very much a quest driven book. We start off with Bremen trying to warn the druids that Brona is planning an attack on the keep but of course he is ignored. What follows is a few different threads that climax with the second war of the races. By far my favourite thread was that of Tay. With his famous friend Jerle Shannara and companions, he’s off to retrieve the Black Elfstone. I’d forgotten a lot of this book since the last time I read it however many years ago but I remembered him. It’s fairly straight forward in Brook’s style but it’s still exciting and sad. I thought it was a good example of how people change over the years and how things could have been different if we were a little more honest with ourselves and others around us.

The other threads are to do with the forging of the sword and the actual war which are all fairly epic. I liked that the writing for the actual forging part switched to a kind of historical narrator for it, it added to the legendary feel of the moment. Prose wise there is the usual descriptions, and the battles felt pretty gritty, better than what I remembered. There is nothing unusual here, and to certain fantasy fans it might feel a bit simplistic and old fashioned. However Brooks always manages to tell a decent story and I’m looking forward to continuing my very stretched out read of the Shannara series.

4 stars

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