Reading a book like The Sword of Shannara, which comes with a lot of baggage, is the kind of thing I have to mull over before I actually open the cover. This is the kind of book where people tend to be more familiar with the criticism and commentary surrounding the book than have actually read the book themselves. In the Information Age, many potential readers probably discover that the book can best be summarized as a Lord of the Rings rip-off or Lord of the Rings-lite and decide to simply skip it over. For readers like me who decide to give it an honest try, it’s more or less impossible to read it with an open mind. It makes it difficult for you to enjoy the book on its own merits because you constantly have to juggle your reaction of the story against the criticism already attached to the book. This is certainly true of all books but there are notable novels, such as this one, that have received an overwhelming negative response that overshadows the positive response, often resulting in it being dismissed far too quickly and unfairly.
Here’s the biggest problem with The Sword of Shannara, the most popular criticisms thrown at it are usually 1) it’s a near identical copy of The Lord of the Rings both in terms of plot and characters, and 2) it’s a really shitty version of that great epic. These comments can be found far and wide, both in and outside the confines of the Internet. Those criticisms are true but they also offer an incomplete assessment of what The Sword of Shannara has to offer.