This is Thing Two of the two-part blog on the Sword and Elfstones books and the TV show.
Now that Thing One is out of the way, I want to tell you why you should read The Sword of Shannara before you watch the TV show – even though the show itself is based on The Elfstones of Shannara. Of course, I want everyone to read both books before the show and then go on to read the other 25. But we can’t have everything we want in this world, and those who want to will do so and everyone else probably won’t. But reading both is useful for a number of reasons, and I am here to tell you what they are.
Thing One talked about why I decided Elfstones was the better choice for the TV show. But that does not necessarily mean I think it is the better book. It only means that for reasons I set forth in Thing One, it works better as the basis for the initial season of the series and especially for audiences unfamiliar with the books. It doesn’t mean that Sword should be ignored since it isn’t a part of the first season. Even though none of the characters in Sword appear in Elfstones with the exception of the Druid Allanon and the Elven King Eventine Elessedil and a minor cameo by Flick. Even though the story in Elfstones does not involve any of the plot points from Sword. Even though the story is not a direct sequel to and does not depend on familiarity with the plot in Sword. And even though it doesn’t take place in the same part of the Four Lands.
So if this is true – if the characters, plot and setting are all different – why am I telling you it is a good idea to read Sword before watching the TV show? Or ever, for that matter.
Here’s why. You should read it because it is the first book in the saga of the Ohmsford family, whose members play important roles in most of the books that follow. Sword provides the back story to the connection between the Ohmsfords and the Druid Allanon and later on the Leahs. It gives crucial insight into Wil’s importance to Allanon and to Wil’s reluctant possession and ultimately his misguided but necessary use of the Elfstones. Sword gives us the underpinnings to many of the plots that appear in later books and likely will show up on one variation or another in the TV series, as well. It provides an overview of the history of the Four Lands and a first look close look at the geography and the Races that make up the bulk of the population.
In short, it is a primer to the entire 25 book series. Many think it is a pretty good story, too. I know this because they’ve said so and they would never lie to me. I have those kinds of fans. This story accomplished a lot in its day, and it has treated me well ever since. But you owe it to yourselves to test those waters and see what you think.
I don’t believe you will be disappointed.
If you are, don’t tell me. Terry