Books read in August
I mean book read in August. Well, book and two short stories… And a few chapters of another book… Let’s just move on.
I started off August by beginning to read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. (Yes, I’m the last person on the bandwagon.) I’ve had this book for quite a while and it was one of the many unread books that I have on my list that I have to read before I’m allowed to get new books. With the release of the TV show and the internet-freakout surrounding it, I bumped it up on the list.
I’ve only read a few chapters so far. I like it, but it is definitely one of those books that I want to read very slowly. Maybe it will show up in September’s book review post, but I think it will more likely be in October’s.
In January’s book post I posted my reading goals for the year. When I was feeling indecisive about what else to read this month, I remembered that I’m still failing at practically all of them at the moment. Need to fix that…
2. Return to the Shannara-series. […] it is the oldest ongoing series in my life. I’ve been reading it long before I got into Tolkien, long before I became a fan of Neil Gaiman, long before I fell in love with the Discworld. The only thing I’ve been reading longer is Harry Potter, but Harry Potter is over and this story is still going on, though almost done now.
So to fulfil this plan I want to read the next trilogy in the Shannara series.
However, now that the TV show adaptation of The Elfstones of Shannara is really, really going to happen, I got far too excited. (For once I’m way ahead of the bandwagon.) The teaser trailer looks great. The cast looks great. I don’t want to just read the next part of the series I haven’t read yet. I want to reread the series, as far as I can. So that’s why I started…
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Sword is Brooks’s debut novel, published almost 40 years ago in the 70s. And since then the Shannara-series has been going strong, though Brooks has now announced that its end is close.
In the blurbs at the beginning of the book it gets compared a lot to Tolkien’s work. This is not unjustified. It does have a lot of similarities to Tolkien’s work, especially in the beginning of the book. This is actually one of my criticisms of the book. It’s not a copy of Lord of the Rings, not at all, but it’s just a bit too much like it. If Brooks had never written anything after Sword‘s runaway success I would have put him down as a good writer, if not the most original one. However, I now know that it only gets better from here. The Elfstones of Shannara, the next book in the series, really shows what he is capable of when he really starts exploring his own fantasy world. So yeah, it makes sense that the TV series starts with Elfstones rather than Sword.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t like The Sword of Shannara. I do like it. It has humans and elves and dwarfs and other races. It has battle scenes and quests and exploring and magical talismans. And, unlike most mediaeval-type fantasies, it is set in the future rather than the past. Brooks envisions a world destroyed by some terrible apocalypse. It is not specified what kind, but a nuclear war is implied. This makes sense for a book written during the Cold War. This disaster (nuclear radiation?) destroyed most of humanity and warped and twisted many of those who survived. Those who became short and light-shy are Brooks’s dwarfs, for instance.
To me, Sword only hints at what Brooks will still do with the story in the rest of the series, spinning a grand tale of humans and other races, magic and technology, demons, spirits and monsters.
I also read the two short stories that, respectively, fit before and after Sword: “Allanon’s Quest” and “The Black Irix”. Both of these were published maybe two years ago, and released exclusively as ebooks. I heard a lot of grumbling from fans about them when they were published, but I like them. They are not important for the overall plot, but they fill in little details and there’s nothing wrong with that.