@Bohdi—That's a complicated question. Salvatore is best known and best loved for his Drizzt novels, set in the Forgotten Realms universe. They're fun, thoughtful, introspective sword and sorcery novels that follow a dark elf ranger through his long, complicated life. As JLaSala says above, you could start with The Crystal Shard (which is the first published Drizzt book) or Homeland (which is the first book chronologically, and where I started reading the series.) Homeland, followed by its two sequels, Exile and Sojourn, comprise the Dark Elf Trilogy, and are excellent from beginning to end.
However, "The Education of Brother Thaddius" and Salvatore's recent novels, Child of a Mad God and Reckoning of Fallen Gods, have nothing to do with Drizzt and are set in a fantasy world, Corona, created by Salvatore. There are over a dozen books set in Corona, but they're split across a few different, more-or-less standalone, series. My suggestion is that you start at the very beginning with The Demon Awakens, the beginning of a seven book series (grouped into two trilogies with a bridge novel). However, you could also reasonably begin with The Highwayman (set several centuries before The Demon Awakens) and the first of a four book series, or Child of a Mad God (which takes place concurrently with the end of the series that begins with The Demon Awakens, but in a different region of the world). Child of a Mad God tells its own story, but there are many elements that are much better appreciate if you're familiar with the other books set in the world (especially in Reckoning of Fallen Gods.)
Salvatore also has a few other series, but these are his two most popular.
@whitespine & @Celebrinnen—Yup! That's the gist of it!
@vnuchka—The piece is included in Chapter 8 ("Hawks") in Tehanu. I believe it's Tenar and Moss.
@sdzald--That's a good question. I was happy to read them in publication order, despite the way the original novelette "spoils" the novels. There's enough new content in the novels that's only vaguely hinted at in the novelette that it feel fresh, tense, and exciting.
That said, there's nothing wrong with reading the novels first, then the novelette.
@Jody Dorsett -- As Mary explains above, the book also directly tackles this issue to great detail. One of the critical early moments is the protagonist's discovery that they are headed toward a period of global warming, rather than ongoing cooling.
@Mary -- Thanks!
@Anthony Pero—Richard Anderson doing his thing, and showing why he's one of the best artists in the biz.
Gailey has said that she didn't seriously take to writing fiction until 2015.
@sarrow—First King is one of my favourite Shannara novels. If you enjoyed that one so much, I think you'll find a lot to like about The Black Elfstone.
@Queen Anthai—Thanks for posting that. I'm glad I'm not the only one concerned about the issue.
@Max—No. It's more complicated than that.
@acrawford—Unreservedly, yes. The complex magical elements of Ninefox Gambit are scaled back significantly in Raven Stratagem. It reads more like the conclusion of NG, and more like a straightforward military SF story (though there's significantly less combat in RS.)
@srEDIT: My mistake. I've corrected the review.
@TheMadLibrarian—Well, I know what I'm googling on my lunch break!
@haladih—I know, right?!
@swario — That's great! My intention is to highlight new/up-and-coming artists alongside masters of the field, so people like Whelan, Howe, Vess, etc. are definitely on my radar. I also hope to be able to introduce readers to new (to them) artists along the way, so fingers cross that I can help you find some of your new favourites!
That's a great idea to include collections/art books. I'll keep that in mind for future iterations where the artist has made those available. I do try to link to their online stores, if they have them.
I would like to cover a broad swathe of artists, so comic book illustrators are definitely a possibility.
@Gina — Thanks! I'm excited to finally have it off the ground. Lots of fun stuff to come.
@ swario — I plan to cover artists of all different styles, so hopefully soon you'll see someone you love. Who would you like to see covered?
Wow! Very, very nice!
It's clearly blue and black.
Fifteen minutes? Holy smokes. Took me a couple of hours.
Thanks, Samadai! We'll see. If this series proved popular, I might do a reread of Wishsong in preparation for the second season of the Shannara Chronicles. :)
Just to touch on a couple of your points:
I definitely get the feeling the four lands are a lot smaller than they felt in the books. My memory might be REALLY rusty here, but I thought gnomes were in the Eastlands and elves in the Westlands (with the druid keep somewhere near the middle?), yet Allanon seems to bounce between Arborlon, finding Will, and back to Arborlon within a day or two. Possibly makes sense with the episodic nature of the show, but still makes me sad.
This is actually supported by the books. It seems to only take a couple of days of hard riding to travel from the Westland to the Eastland. Brooks has also said that he's intentionally wishy-washy about travel times, because he likes being able to fudge things for plot convenience. The Four Lands is generally considered quite small compared to most fantasy worlds.
One related criticism I have, which is likely due to associated costs, is that the Four Lands seems very, very empty a lot of the time. It's particularly noticeable when Wil is in Shady Vale, and when he's travelling with Allanon to Wing Hove.
Very minor pick, but I was really hoping to see The Reaper. I think it makes more sense to leave out (wasn’t it somewhat random in how it attacked?), so I’ll just have to settle for The Changeling (which was pretty well done)
It's been confirmed that The Reaper will appear in later episodes.
(There is a strong train of thought among Tolkien fans and scholars that view Sam as the real hero, by the way)
I've been part of this clique for years. I do like your delineation between reader expectations versus Wil's expectations.
I really enjoyed what I've seen of the show so far, and will be writing something about it here on Tor.com in the near future. In the meantime, feel free to check out my spoiler-free review here.
Having watched the first four episodes of The Shannara Chronicles, I'm quite pleased, and very excited to continue on with the series in January. It's great to see the Four Lands brought to life, and the cast is tremendous.
I totally forgot the both Hebel and Drifter survive the fight against the Reaper! In my head I always remember them being turned to wood, and just assume that they're caught in the fire when Mallenroh's tower burns down. Hebel's basically everything that Cephelo's not.
Got a chance to see the guys at Bubonicon last year. Asked them what app/site they used to calculate where planets and asteroids were in relation to each other, 300 years in future.
“We made it up. Needed travel times that worked for the story.”
This attitude is one of the things that I love most about the Expanse. I also like in one of the post-book interviews where they're asked how the Epstein Drive works. "Very efficiently," they reply. That's it. It works for me as a reader who doesn't need every nuance of science or a magic system explained.
@5. sterling—Hmm. I sort of read Miller as being misunderstood by Holden and co., and unfairly ostracized, but to consider him as exactly the way they perceive him (hapless, overly violent, etc.) is interesting. Still doesn't make it easy to ride shotgun for his chapters, but certainly an improved/more interesting perspective.
@2. Mayhem--I think you're right. Brooks' worlds do feel smaller because he focuses so specifically on the small cast of named characters. You might say it's more intimate than a lot of other epic fantasies that share a similar scope, but I often feel like it lowers the stakes just a bit. I care about Wil, Amberle, Ander, etc., but I'm not sure I care about the nameless Elves of Arborlon in the way I'm supposed to.
@3. Narg--Yep. I think Wil's a bit of a dolt for not bringing Eretria along, especially the second time, but she hasn't exactly done a bang up job of instilling him with confidence thanks to the constant sexual harassment.
@4. mole701--Honestly (and maybe this is because I'm doing a reread, fully aware that Manx is the Changeling, but...), I found the whole staring contest between Eventine and Manx sort of cheesy. Why, all of a sudden, would the Changeling give itself away? Doesn't seem in his character.
@5. Shades--Thanks! The further we get into the novel, the more I'm convinced that they're presence in the Hollows is no coincidence.
@6. mole701 & 7. gadget--I guess I have to give credit to Cephalo for not just slitting Wil's throat and taking the Elfstones?
@radiantflower: I think the whole journey would be a lot easier if Wil listened to Amberle and treated her as an equal companion, rather than a damsel-in-escort. Wil's self-doubt about his ability to use the Elfstones has compromised him as a leader of their party, and his impulsiveness consistently leads them into dangerous situations that could be sidestepped.
Eretria's interesting, especially in the way she makes Wil feel uncomfortable and off-kilter. It appears as though she plays a much larger role in the television adaptation. I'm quite eager to see how they adapt the relationship between the three on the quest for the Bloodfire.
I’m not sure about your criticism of Wil, what else was he supposed to do?
Mostly, I feel like Wil probably could have lowered the risk/reward structure of the plan by offering a more honest offer to the Innkeeper: a night of relief for a night of room and board. By showing off and being a bit impulsive he put the Innkeeper on edge (which in turn made her more exuberant when his healing appeared to have solved her pain), and created a resulting situation larger (the Innkeeper shouting to anyone who could hear) and more dangerous (a drunken mob with a thirst for gold and a disregard for the lives of outsiders) than necessary. As you mention, in a place like Grimpen Ward, you need to do everything you can to keep a low profile--advice Wil recklessly ignores. The remark about magic is one mistake, but a humbler approach to the situation could have nullified or reduced the risk significantly.
@Mayhem: One of my biggest grievances about the later Shannara books is that the towns and locations become even more obviously just 'points on a map.' Funny enough, I think Grimpen Ward is one of the sites in the Four Lands that becomes more interesting as the series goes on.
@Naarg: I love that book!
I don’t know that there’s any official reason, at least not one that I’ve heard him talk about publicly. They don’t seem to have any connection to nature or the Earth, not in the way its described when it comes to Elven magic, so the name “druid” is probably just an obfuscation to separate Allanon somewhat from Gandalf.
Though, Allanon is referred to as a 'sorcerer' on a semi-regular basis. (Brooks loves descriptive pronouns.)
@mole701 -- I do try my best to update the introduction with links to the each new post in the reread, but they're usually published while I'm at work, and I can't make the update until I'm at home, or sometimes the next morning. :)
@Jared -- :p
Interestingly, there's a couple of mention of Elven Wizards, who originally created the Forbidding, and *do* seem significantly more powerful than any single Druid, so you might be onto something.
Thanks for pointing that out, Mayhem & Paul. We'll get that fixed as quickly as possible.
@mole701 — That chapter has always stuck out to me, too. In fact, the next three chapters as a whole are a masterful series of events and dramatic tension.
Farm-boy(or shire denizen) -to-hero archetype.
I'm working on a theory (and we'll see how it coalesces over the course of this reread) that though Wil is definitely on his own Hero's Journey of a sort, his is more about master his perception of himself, whereas I think the real Hero's Journey in the novel is Amberle's, which is about accepting and overcoming a situation that requires enormous personal sacrifice. Because Amberle takes a back seat to Wil from a narrative POV sense, the journey is less obvious. I've always sort of connected to Wil previousl (and Ander), but I'm surprised that this time around reading Elfstones, Amberle's the one jumping out at me as the hero of the story. That all being said, this could be the result of my tendency to try to tackle rereads from a different perspective each time I read a story. This time around, it just so happens that I'm interpreting the story most strongly from Amberle's perspective, and she's obviously not impressed with Wil.
Interesting point about Arion. He's cocksure and charismatic, which might be a great crutch for Eventine during peacetimes, but he is somewhat flaccid and irrational during the Demon invasion, when things actually matter.
Heh. And here I always thought the King of the Silver River's appearance (specifically in The Sword of Shannara) was homage to Tom Bombadil rescuing the Hobbits from the Barrow Downs.
I've been resisting the urge to reread the Heritage of Shannara series, but... maybe I should just give in. I loved The Druid of Shannara so much when I first read it, but it's been years since my last reread and I've forgotten those fine details.
Thanks for the feedback, Anon.
Is the GIF bothering other rereaders?
Growing up, I pronounced her name as am-BURL, but, after hearing Terry pronounce her name and listening to the audiobooks, I've switched to am-BUR-lay. Should make the transition to the show a bit easier for me, too.
Just wanted to point out that Kameron's essay won the 2014 Hugo Award. Not the 2013 award.
Aside from that, clever, gorgeous cover. And, scaly, armoured llamas for everyone!
According to the Genesis of Shannara trilogy, Arborlon and the Ellcrys are located in the deep forests of Oregon during our time. During the trilogy, Arborlon is relocated to the Cascade Mountains near Spokane, Washington using the Loden. Presumably this is where it stays until it is relocated to Morrowindl centuries later.
@mole701 #5 -- Ahh! @anthonypero beat me to the answer. The Elves of Cintra gives a very specific answer to where the Ellcrys lives in"our" world. It's actually only a few hours from where I'm sitting while writing this comment!
Logically, wouldn’t it have been a much better plan to press-gang him (or if that ruins the magic, actually persuade him through normal means) to give him the Elfstones which could then be given to a full-blood Elf?
I'm fairly certain that the Elfstones would have to have been passed from Wil to, say, Arion or Crispin entirely of his own free will, so Allanon using his manipulative powers wouldn't have work. That said, Wil seems like the type of chap who would have been happy to pass along ownership of the Elfstones if it meant better odds of survival for the Elves. I believe Allanon also believes that Wil's status as an outsider, without emotional connection to the Elven homeland, will allow him to concentrate on his mission to guard Amberle, without worrying about his family back at home in Arborlon. Ultimately, however, as you and @anthonypero pointed out, it's really just convenience to make an interesting plot that resonates with Sword.
Yeah, I've always attributed Flick's behaviour to him being a bit of a grump, and upset about his own personal involvement in the quest for the Sword, but, I like the idea that his resentment could stem from being uncomfortable with the changes and challenge's facing Shea in post-Sword life.
Oh, and you folk have totally changed my mind about who killed the Chosen. It seems obvious to me now, after all these years, that it was the Reaper. So, thanks!
In any case, Bloodfire Quest was mentoined in the article . . . was Dark Legacy any good? The Genesis series was a huge disappointment to me, and soured me on Brooks’ newer work, but if Dark Legacy is worth checking out I might give it a try.
Honestly. I think that the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy is the best thing Brooks has written since Ilse Witch, and just a smidge under The Heritage of Shannara in quality. I wrote three extensive reviews of the books, which might help to convince you: Wards of Faerie, Bloodfire Quest, and Witch Wraith.
They retroactively make some of the earlier Shannara books better, tying up the storyline that originally begins in Isle Witch, and act as a pseudo-sequal to The Elfstones of Shannara. Great characters, scope, and thematic explorations. Unfortunately, the follow-up series, The Defenders of Shannara, has proved to be one of Brooks' weakest efforts.
@radiantflower #7 -- I've always thought of him as handsome in that non-traditional Javier Bardem-sorta way.
@anthonypero #5 Interesting thought. Amberle acting as a bit of an unreliable narrator.
For anyone else looking for an answer to @mole701's question: the discussion will happen on the dates above, so read the appropriate chapters in the week prior.
I agree that the whole retconning this is the first Ellcrys thing does not hold up as well, but I would suggest that for the purpose of this novel and reread we consider the dying Ellcrys the first incarnation, as Brooks clearly intended when he wrote the book.
That’s exactly my plan. There won’t be much more bellyaching from me at this point, and frankly, moving forward, I don’t think the plot is much concerned with whether the current Ellcrys is the first or the 800th.
I believe it was the ever creepy Reaper that was sent to destroy the Chosen, not the Changeling as we are told of several Elven patrols being ambushed and killed in the same manner, while the Changeling murdered Went was killed in what is described as ‘a wholly different manner’.
Huh. Every time I’ve read the book, I’ve assumed it was the Changeling, in the form of Went, that killed the Chosen. I think you’re right though. *ponders*
“Approachable and vulnerable” and “lone wolf with the weight of the world on his shoulders” are just so Aragorn to me. Plus, I mean, his actual *name!*
Isn’t he just?
One of the things that I love the most about Allanon is that though he’s obviously constructed from a recognizable trope, Brooks takes many opportunities to add depth, separating him wholly from his influences. To go back to the LotR comparison, I think there’s also a bit of Faramir and Boromir in there, too–a sense of justice that won’t allow him to do anything but work doggedly to protect his people, but also a cutthroat tendency to sacrifice others and make bold moves for what he perceives is the greater good. Brooks does a tremendous job of making all of this (sometimes conflicting) emotions and behaviours work beautifully.
@Shades #28 – The cover art for the first edition of The Elfstones of Shannara is by Darrell K. Sweet, who you’ll also recognize for his covers on all but the final volume of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. And, I agree, I absolutely love it. Yeah, it’s campy, but the visuals included in the first three volumes (not just the covers, but the interior illustrations) helped Brooks’ world come to life for me in a way that even Tolkien’s Middle-Earth (which I’d read just prior to discovering Brooks) couldn’t. They’re still the visual reference I use for the lands and characters in the series. I’ll be interested to see how the upcoming show affects this.
@mole701 #29 I can’t wait to hear what you think of the later books. There are definitely some dips in quality (I’d actually recommend skipping a few of the pre-Sword of Shannara volumes, and can’t wholly endorse his latest two books), but it’s definitely a ride worth taking. Enjoy!
@treebee72 - Thanks for digging that out. It does put an interesting spin on the Ellcrys' character to consider that she was as naive as everyone else. I think there's enough evidence in later volumes that she's not the first Ellcrys (Alannon might be wrong here), so it's certainly going to be a point of debate during this reread. I'm going to see if I can get an official comment from Brooks about it. :)
@mole701 - That's an interesting theory re: different manifestations of the Forbidding depending on the current Ellcrys. If you're interested in jumping ahead, you might just go straight to Wards of Faerie, which is the first in a trilogy that acts, in many ways, as a direct sequel to The Elfstones of Shannara.
@gadget - At the time Brooks wrote Elfstones, I get the sense that as he fleshed out the lore surrounding the Ellcrys, the Forbidding, and the end of world chronicles in Armageddon's Children, that he wrote himself into a bit of a corner. Still, considering the immense complexity of a storyline that takes place over the course of millennium, I think he's done a tremendous job of keeping things consistent (sometimes too consistent) with relatively few plot holes. Definitely worth applauding.
BTW, what are the spoiler rules for this thread?
Spoilers for the entire series are fair game in the comments. Be kind and mark which books you're spoiling, though.
@KReaves—I'd forgotten that. Can you remind me of what Brooks wrote about the first Ellcrys?
@CireNaes—Staff's have certainly been integral to Brooks' heroes and villains over the series' lifespan. Though I'm certain Brooks didn't intend to connect the Dagda Mor's staff to the W&V series when he first wrote it, it's fun to contemplate a possible connection between the Staff of Power, Logan's Staff, and the staff that the Tanequil creates. Are they all manifestations of the Word and/or the Void?
The Dagda Mor mentions brooding over the fortress for hundreds of years … I get the feeling that he was young at the last time they broke through, which is what causes his hatred. Otherwise how could he hate them so much without experience?
This also clarifies how the Dagda Mor knows that he must target the Chosen if he wants to put an end to any hope of the Ellcrys being reborn.
Re: the age of the current Ellcrys — I've always assumed that the previous female Chosen that Lauren alludes to in the first chapter (a few hundred years prior) eventually became the Ellcrys we meet in Elfstones. Fast forwarding through the series:
*SPOILERS FOR THE DARK LEGACY OF SHANNARA*
We learn in Wards of Faerie that the life expectancy of the Ellcrys is about roughly 550-600 years (according to this non-official timeline, at least), which would suggest to me that the Ellcrys in Elfstones is not the same one that first established the Forbidding. My understanding is that the first Ellcrys would have been created before recorded human history, suggesting that there have been several instances of the tree being reborn at the Bloodfire before we meet her for the first time.
I was just thinking of the Shannara adventure game the other day, @mole701! I don't know if it was good, but I had a ton of fun with it. I really liked the artist's interpretation of Brooks' world, and a lot of the visuals have stuck with me to this day. My one gripe: that damn battle system.
Lovingly said, Jeff. It's no secret that I also adore this book.
#1 @templarsteel — You're in luck! We're just about to start a reread of The Elfstones of Shannara here on Tor.com: http://www.tor.com/2015/08/19/welcome-to-rereading-shannara-the-elfstones-of-shannara/
@Kyle W. #42 – Right now we’ll just be doing The Elfstones of Shannara. However, as you’ve noticed, the series has been created as to leave the door open for possible rereads in the future. I can’t see reading all 25+ volumes in the series, but there’s the potential to go back to The Sword of Shannara and then wrap things up with The Wishsong of Shannara, depending on the success of this reread.
My goodness! I go away on vacation for a couple of days and return to a very warm reception to this new adventure! I'm glad so many of you are excited about the reread, and I can't wait to get things started.
@Gadget #6 - Ack! Getting my nets crossed with my children of Faerie. Take away my geek card! Thanks for the correction.
@jfarish102 #8 - I think you're going to like the direction I go with the reread. I have a very strong emotional connection to the book, and I'll be exploring that in depth.
@Rynox2000 #9 - Brooks does a great job at catching you up on the necessary details, so I wouldn't worry about hunting down a synopsis of tSoS.
@Billiam #18 - I've a bit of a bias, but I'd say Elfstones is orders of magnitudes better than Sword, and can stand toe to toe with all the best of '80s epic fantasy. Hopefully this reread will convince you to pick it up!
@Longtimefan — Glad you enjoyed it! I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, but I purposely wanted to focus on lesser known authors/novels. So, the list of characters left off the list is a mile (or two, or a thousand) long. But, that’s what the comments are for, right?
(Also, I didn’t pick the banner image. Haha.)