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My First Time: The Magic of Terry Brooks

SwordEveryone remembers their first time.

Mine was back in the mid-1990s. A close friend excitedly showed me a book called THE SWORD OF SHANNARA (UK | ANZ) that his jetsetting pilot father had picked up for him from a bookstore in America. I remember being impressed at its sheer size and being immediately drawn to both the cover (a glowing magic sword, what more could a thirteen-year-old boy want?) and the gorgeous interior illustrations by the brothers Hildebrandt. I forget what gushing eulogy my friend gave about the book, yet it was positive enough for the novel to stick in my mind. Faced with the horrors of a two-week family holiday a short time later, I purchased a copy of THE SWORD OF SHANNARA, thinking it might prove a decent distraction for a fortnight.

It didn’t – because I burned through the novel in two days. I was already a fan of fantasy, having devoured Fighting Fantasy gamebooks and the late Brian Jacques’s much-loved Redwall series, but this was the first time I’d read an adult book – and I was hopelessly smitten. I loved every page, every word. For hours at a time I lost myself in this mythical world, enthralled by the plucky heroes’ dangerous adventure to save the land from darkness. I may not have realised it at the time, but that reading experience was a watershed moment in not just my reading tastes, but my entire life.

THE SWORD OF SHANNARA cemented my love of fantasy; it’s the book I can trace my passion for the genre back to, where it all properly began. It gave me an appetite for epic fantastical adventures, which I sated by immediately devouring the rest of the original Shannara titles. I was delighted to find that they more than lived up to my expectations, each novel expanding the geography of Brooks’s world and introducing a host of new heroes and villains – from the enigmatic weapons-master Garet Jax, to the sinister Mord-Wraiths. Packing heroic sacrifices, epic battles and a strong sense of wonder, these books were not just a pastime or a diversion, but an experience. Terry Brooks is often credited with starting the post-Tolkien boom in epic fantasy literature (THE SWORD OF SHANNARA spent five months on the New York Times bestseller list upon its release), and it’s easy to see why – he is simply a master storyteller.

Fast forward fifteen years and not much has changed. I still love fantasy books and Terry Brooks still writes them. The Shannara series has grown and evolved over time, yet Terry still writes with the same passion and zeal that has been his trademark ever since THE SWORD OF SHANNARA. His new series, The Dark Legacy of Shannara, is no exception. Beginning with WARDS OF FAERIE (UK | ANZ) and continuing in the newly-released BLOODFIRE QUEST (UK | ANZ) this trilogy incorporates engaging characters, epic adventure and a sense of wonder that few other writers achieve in their work. In other words, everything I’ve come to expect and love in a Terry Brooks novel.
If you’ve never experienced the magic of Terry Brooks’s storytelling, now is the perfect time to start – as Terry will be visiting the UK in April! He’ll be signing copies of his books at London’s Forbidden Planet store. More information about the signing – and an exclusive competition – can be found here.

Praise for Terry Brooks:

Terry Brooks is a master of the craft and a trailblazer . . . required reading” – Brent Weeks

“I can’t even begin to count how many of Terry Brooks’s books I’ve read (and re-read) over the years” – Patrick Rothfuss

“If you haven’t read Terry Brooks, you haven’t read fantasy” – Christopher Paolini

“If Tolkien is the grandfather of fantasy, Terry Brooks is its favourite uncle” – Peter V. Brett

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  1. James Rundle

    March 12, 2013
    at 12:00 pm

    Great article and very similar from my perspective. Not just for swords and sorcery fantasy, though – his Word & Void trilogy turned me on to urban fantasy in a huge way as well. Something that both my bank account and various book shelves would like to have a serious word with him about.

  2. David Gaither

    March 14, 2013
    at 7:11 pm

    Nice article, perhaps great minds think alike! I wrote a post similar to this one on my blog about how Sword of Shannara introduced me to the fantasy genre, and the world continued to keep me company long after. I owe Mr. Brooks a great debt and he helped give rise to my desire to write fantasy. I recently picked up “Sometimes the Magic Works” and can’t wait to read it.

  3. James Long

    March 15, 2013
    at 12:40 am

    James – thanks, glad you liked it! And you’re right about the Word and the Void series too, just goes to show Terry’s versatility.

    David – thanks! I think many of us owe Terry a debt! And enjoy Sometimes the Magic Works – great book!

  4. Iain

    March 15, 2013
    at 1:53 am

    Ah James, double waves of nostalgia! Reading your post took me back to the warm, sunny days of Speculative Horixons! And doubly nostalgic in writing about the Sword of Shannara. I remember reading it until my eyes dried up when I was twelve. It has taken its knocks over the years but I wager all those smart arses who do so probably loved it when they were twelve too

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