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Old 08-22-2012, 09:50 AM   #1
taosaur
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Wired interview w/ Terry Brooks (new Shannara book)

Brooks for me is the paragon of made-to-order commercial fiction. He spun a LotR redux with USA Today prose and nary an original idea into a 30+ year career, which he's continuing with yet another Shannara trilogy.

Wired interviewed him this week for their Geeks Guide to the Galaxy podcast. Audio link and write-up here: http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/...-terry-brooks/
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:05 AM   #2
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I have enjoyed the Shannara series and look forward to more books.
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Old 08-22-2012, 12:25 PM   #3
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Brooks for me is the paragon of made-to-order commercial fiction. He spun a LotR redux with USA Today prose and nary an original idea into a 30+ year career, which he's continuing with yet another Shannara trilogy.
You obviously never read the original or, if you did, you went into it buying the hype of it being Lord of the Rings clone. The only resemblances are the quest starter showing up to warn the common person Hero at the start, the bad guy's minions coming for the Hero at their hometown to get things moving, picking up various party members along the way, having a council of war, then setting up a battle to distract the enemy/buy time for the hero, and the Big Bad's works crumbling once their magic was taken away - elements which had already become generic fantasy tropes in the over 20 years between LotR and Shannara. Hell, go read David Eddings' Belgariad for the exact same situation (which bears more resemblance to Shannara than either do to LotR, really).

Of course, I'm still not excited for another Shannara book. He should've ended it and moved on after Wishsong of Shannara - The Heritage of Shannara quartet was mediocre, but wasn't a waste of time to read, The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara was meh and not even worth a second read like Heritage was, and High Druid of Shannara a complete mess...
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Old 08-22-2012, 01:55 PM   #4
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My biggest issue with Brooks is that for the most part, his books are no longer stand alone editions.

The comparisons to LOTR are obvious, but that format can be traced back into Irish, Norse and Greek mythologies so Tolkien really didn't break ground there. To me, the genius of Tolkien is the world he created, not the story he told.
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Old 08-22-2012, 02:08 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by taosaur View Post
Brooks for me is the paragon of made-to-order commercial fiction. He spun a LotR redux with USA Today prose and nary an original idea into a 30+ year career, which he's continuing with yet another Shannara trilogy.
I'm trying to figure out if your complementing him or insulting him ... maybe both.

Funny thing is I've bought a few of his books but never picked up any to read, somehow I just could never get into them.
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:14 PM   #6
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There's way too many examples of commercial fiction/fantasy out there to justify targeting any one single author and making him/her the poster-child for all that's bad in fiction. The claim that he's had "nary an original idea" is either patently false, or a convenient redefining of the term "original."

As to the "LoTR redux" (which frankly gets far too much press in a genre rife with perpetrators of that particular crime)... people rarely want to hear the truth. Yes, the first 1/3 of Sword of Shannara is a carbon copy of LoTR: characters, themes—the works. Brooks has openly admitted to as much... several times. But after that first third, his writing became his own and the LoTR knockoff claims simply no longer have merit (unless you count the enigmatic-dispenser-of-wisdom—in which case, many authors are in a world of hurt).

I fully admit that I've personally grown weary of Shannara, myself. My tastes have changed. But it seems he still has a dedicated fan-base willing to buy everything he publishes, so ... good for him, I say (and his fans). I'm quite puzzled by the recent spate of Brooks Bashings around the blogosphere/forums/internet. It seems like it's a new hobby for the "new fantasy elite" or something. Continued financial success with a style of writing that some find too simplistic and repetitive must really burn people's asses, I guess. Seems a little petty to me, but what do I know. And yet again... why single out Brooks here? There's plenty of authors out there riding the gravy train with formulaic 10-, 15-, 20+-book genre-fiction franchises. Do they get a pass because they're not quite as successful at it as Brooks has been?

It seems today's fantasy sub-culture is threatened somehow by family-oriented, simple story-telling where good triumphs over evil at the end of a quest rife with peril. Not sure why. Readers will determine if it's time for that type of fantasy to go the way of the dodo, not critics. And if Brooks' sales are any indication... there's enough readers who still want it. I'm glad someone's providing it for them.

So yeah, even though I loved his books back in the day (and I still consider myself a fan if only for nostalgic reasons), my tastes have changed so I don't read much of his stuff any more. But I still fail to see why so many are willing to crucify him (all by his lonesome) on the cross of sinister commercial fiction.

I tend to cut him some slack. Because basically, if not for Terry Brooks', Stephen R. Donaldson's, and Lester del Rey's/Ballantine Books' venture into modern commercial fantasy in 1977 ... the bloggers, critics and the new "fantasy literati" who suddenly seem to take such perverse pleasure in blasting Brooks might never have had a voice in the first place.

I know, I know... TL;DR.

Last edited by DiapDealer; 08-22-2012 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:37 PM   #7
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Well Im a Brooks fan, met him, been at a store when he's done a reading and signing(Signed the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara for me) and I know there are others who are not but to say hes done nothing original is just wrong. From the very start he laid down the idea that this magic world he created had come after a very different world had collapsed in ruin.

Then just in the last few years he actually took a separate world he created- the world(set in our world) in the books of The Word and Void series- and destroyed it. That world became the seed for the Shannara world.

Who else has done that? Pulled two different series together like that? Stephen King has done it by having characters from other books appear in the Gunslinger series but i cant think of others.

I have always had a fondness for the Landover books as well, enjoyed reading them very much.
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:37 PM   #8
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T
I fully admit that I've personally grown weary of Shannara, myself. My tastes have changed. But it seems he still has a dedicated fan-base willing to buy everything he publishes, so ... good for him, I say (and his fans). I'm quite puzzled by the recent spate of Brooks Bashings around the blogosphere/forums/internet. It seems like it's a new hobby for the "new fantasy elite" or something. Continued financial success with a style of writing that some find too simplistic and repetitive must really burn people's asses, I guess. Seems a little petty to me, but what do I know. And yet again... why single out Brooks here? There's plenty of authors out there riding the gravy train with formulaic 10-, 15-, 20+-book genre-fiction franchises. Do they get a pass because they're not quite as successful at it as Brooks has been?
I think the Shannara books were solid up through the end of Heritage. IMO the Jerle Shannara and High Druid books are kind of a trainwreck compared to the older stuff.

I still enjoy re-reading the older books though. The concept (post-apocalyptic world with magic in it) is still fun, too.

Elitism is present in any hobby - fantasy and sci-fi included.
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:47 PM   #9
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I think the Shannara books were solid up through the end of Heritage. IMO the Jerle Shannara and High Druid books are kind of a trainwreck compared to the older stuff.
Agreed.

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I still enjoy re-reading the older books though. The concept (post-apocalyptic world with magic in it) is still fun, too.
Definitely agreed.
But still; it's easy to see how people might think that Tolkien did the whole "post-apocalyptic earth with magic in it" idea better (and first).
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Old 08-22-2012, 05:38 PM   #10
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:09 PM   #11
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I read Sword of Shannara way back when, was very unimpressed, even then - when I was much less curmudgeonly - and never read another word he wrote.
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:52 PM   #12
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reminds me- hearing Terry Brooks pronounce Shannara in person was disconcerting. I kept feeling like I should correct him for saying it wrong.
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:01 PM   #13
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How did he pronounce it?

it looks like it should be pronounced sha NAR a.

but then, I pronounce Liaden wrong too.
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:36 PM   #14
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reminds me- hearing Terry Brooks pronounce Shannara in person was disconcerting. I kept feeling like I should correct him for saying it wrong.
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:36 PM   #15
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I think the Shannara books were solid up through the end of Heritage. IMO the Jerle Shannara and High Druid books are kind of a trainwreck compared to the older stuff.

I still enjoy re-reading the older books though. The concept (post-apocalyptic world with magic in it) is still fun, too.

Elitism is present in any hobby - fantasy and sci-fi included.
I liked the Jerle Shannara series, but agree the High Druid series was awful.
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