Day 04 – Favourite book of your favourite series
This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.
I think I’m going to cheat a bit on this topic, because I really should stop talking about Discworld around here or everyone is going to be so annoyed at me. Anyway, wasn’t this covered in yesterday’s post already? As I said then, Discworld is probably my favourite series, but I’m going to talk about the Shannara-series instead today. Anyway, I really can’t choose my favourite Discworld book. I love Going Postal and I love Thud! But there are also so many others to make the choice harder. I don’t think I have an absolute favourite overall. So I won’t waste time on trying to choose and boring everyone with my decisionlessness. So, here we go…
The Shannara-series by Terry Brooks
The Shannara-series is one of the very few fantasy series that I have followed that has maintained some quality throughout all the books. So many series start off well, but by the third book or so, they have lost momentum and start turning bland and unoriginal. Of course, Shannara is a long series – going on 20 books now by my count, and no, I haven’t read them all yet – so it is not that unexpected that the author does repeat himself here and there. However, I don’t find this very distracting within a larger series that has remained mostly fresh and original.
So… for what I have read: I’ve read the main story arch within the larger series. That is, the story that starts with the First King of Shannara and ends with Straken. I heard that Brooks has also now written his Word and the Void trilogy into Shannara, with a connecting trilogy, apparently… I haven’t read either of those yet. I also heard that a new trilogy that apparently also fits in there before the original story is busy coming out at the moment. I haven’t seen that anywhere yet, though I guess it must have been published a year or more ago. Thus… I know the story of Shannara, though I haven’t got to all the pre-history yet. But what about my favourite book? To answer that question, I need to ramble yet some more.
I discovered the Shannara-series quite by accident, actually. My mother and I were in one of those bargain bookshops one day, those that take over all the rubbish that the bigger and better bookshops don’t want. I was looking at the teen books, when my mother called my over to the full-blown fantasy shelf, somewhere I hadn’t spent much time by that stage yet, handed me a book and said “This looks like your kind of book. All elves and dwarves and humans and gnomes, going on quests.” That book was The Wishsong of Shannara. I agreed that it looked really good. We hunted through the shelves, but that Wishsong was the earliest book we could find out of the series (it’s number 3 in the first trilogy, really). So my mother bought me it. She also bought me the entire Heritage of Shannara-quartet that day (the second instalment of the series). I must have been 14 or 15 then. Probably 15, and I haven’t stopped hunting for Shannara books ever since.
Now you know that The Wishsong of Shannara was the first of the series that I read. It wasn’t actually a problem, even though I missed some of the background and was a bit confused here and there. Then I read the Heritage of Shannara quartet, featuring Damson Rhee, who remains one of my favourite female characters to this day. Only then did I go back and read the first two books of that first series: The Sword of Shannara and The Elfstones of Shannara. And later I read the prequel First King of Shannara (which is most excellent) and the two later trilogies in the series, Voyage of the Jerle Shannara and High Druid of Shannara.
The Sword of Shannara isn’t as good as the others to me, strangely, though it was a bestseller back in its day (in the seventies). It’s good, but not very original (very much like Lord of the Rings, which Brooks admits inspired him) and I feel that the author is still finding his voice in this one. However, by the time he reached Elfstones, his voice was found. I was sad to hear the movie-project for Elfstones had fallen through. I would have liked to see that one – Elfstones was one of the best books.
But I still haven’t answered the question. After Wishsong, I read all the others… but… you know what, first impressions count. The Wishsong of Shannara is still my favourite. It is still the one most imprinted on my mind, even though I love the others. Ilse Witch is also really good, if a bit predictable. I love Straken, especially the ending, which was not all that predictable. First King of Shannara was one of the best of all of them and I really love Elf Queen of Shannara. But you cannot wipe first impressions and so Wishsong will remain my king.
Fun fact for other lovers of Shannara:
I really cannot stand Walker Boh. He annoys the heck out of me with all his angst, complaining, suspicion and emotional baggage.
Check back tomorrow for some talk about a book that makes me happy!