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
16 responses to “25th Most Powerful Author Working In Hollywood: Thing Two”
I just re-read Sword of Shannara for the first time in close to 25 years, and fell in love with the Four Lands all over again. I was planning to get a few other books out of the way before I re-read Elfstones, but the night I finished Sword, my curiosity got the best of me and I picked up my copy of Elfstones. Now I’m engrossed — again! Looking forward to Shannara Chronicles!
I just assumed that the way the plot of “Sword” mirrors “The Lord of the Rings” had something to do with it as well. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not knocking it. I realize that this is one of the main reasons it was picked to be published in the first place, allowing you to explore other, more original stories ever since. The reasons you listed for picking “Elfstones” as the jumping off point make a lot of sense as well, but you don’t want viewers thinking that the world you’ve worked so hard to craft is just an LOTR knock off either.
I like it and the reasons why. Although, I would like to see the Word and the Void series, “Running with the Demon” turned into a feature film format. I grew up in a very small town in south-eastern Wyoming, and the imagery of Hopewell, Illinois, vividly parallels the place I lived and the nearby towns.
The Sword of Shannara is still my favorite book of all time, so I was disappointed when I found out that the first season of the series wasn’t going to be about Sword. But I am still incredibly excited about the show and I hope that sometime in the future there will be a season based on Sword.
I may have mentioned it before, but what is interesting.. I didn’t know there was a Sword book. I found Elfstones by chance in a bookstore and thought it sounded very interesting. Well, over 20-something years later, I’m still reading them. tho I don’t have the latest ones.. I’ll work on it.. haha.
I did read through the 2nd series then First King, then Sword. And knowing the knowledge from FIrst King help me understand Sword better.. and using Elfstones as the series start, I agree is a good choice. And reading Sword before watching the series, I agree is an excellent idea. Without having that back history for Wil, I can tell alot will not understand why he is soo imporotant to the balance of the world. way to go Terry!! 🙂
I totally agree. Sword is my all time favorite book, which I have re-read many times throughout my life. As a long-time fan having read all of the Shannara series, the storyline and characters in Sword are very dear to me. In Sword we get to meet the Ohmsfords, Elessedils, and of course Allanon, who are all so very important to the long multi-generational Shannara storyline. The Sword of Shannara is a timeless, wonderful novel, and I highly recommend it to everyone!
I loved reading The Sword of Shannara, and think it’s a fantastic story. I was sad to hear that they’d skipped over it for the television adaptation, but now understand why, from reading Terry’s explanation. My only hope is that the show will do well, and a future season can be devoted to going back and telling that story, and maybe one for First King, as well.
It is a great book in it’s own right. Here’s a quick story on my experience with “Sword”. I was in the 7th grade, and had just finished the LoTR trilogy (although, I don’t think I fully “got it” at the time) my dad had been into Tolkien in college, so naturally I wanted to read it too. He also owns the original Middle Earth calendars with art done by the Brothers Hildebrandt, from the mid 70s. I was fascinated. So, in 7th grade we went on a two day field trip to my state’s capital of Springfield, and I needed something new to read for the trip. Luckily, my school just so happened to have a book sale the day before and while there I stumbled upon “Sword”. A large, fantasy looking book, with art by the Brothers Hildebrandt!!! I needed no further enticement! Unfortunately, being 13 years old, I didn’t have the full $7 that the book cost at the time. I asked the book store lady to hold it for me, hit my mom up that night for an extra $2, and literally ran back into the book store the next morning to purchase the book before the buses left on the field trip. The rest is history… That was 1991 and I’ve been in love with the Four Lands since. I’ve read “Sword” countless times, and still love it for exactly what it is: a great story. Thanks Terry, for giving us all this thing we love in our own way.
Oh, I’ll reread Sword, along with Elfstones and Wishsong. I enjoy all three books, and I want to keep them fresh in my mind. (And thank you for getting back on topic.)
I completely agree that Sword should be read and why. I, however, put the book down multiple times while trying to read it. Many parts of it bored me to tears.
The only thing with Elfstones I take a minor issue with. No Leah.
I hope eventually the heritage of shanarra novels become a series. I started the novels with scions of shannara and the four novels that scions kicks off is imho the best series of books terry has written. To see walker boh and company travel to the stone city or the wisteron hunting wren and garth would be a dream come true.
I would really love to see the Shannara Series on either TV or the big screen!!! When and on what channel is the tv show airing?
The Shannara Chronicles will air on MTV. There is no date for when the show will air. Stay tuned!
Hi. I have read every Shannara book since the mid 1980’s, and love them and I am waiting for the next book due here in June. I can’t wait for the TV series, and would you please know when it is due to be released. Thanks Terry for all the many hours of pleasureable reading you have given me. Cheers Ivy.
There is no release date for the TV show yet. When we know it, it will be plastered all over the front page of the website. 🙂