The Sword of Shannara
is one of those books that undeniably is technically bad - both in how it rips from Tolkien and also for how it tells its story. Yet for better or worse it set its hooks on me from a young age (much like [b:Eragon|113436|Eragon (Inheritance, #1)|Christopher Paolini|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1366212852s/113436.jpg|3178011]) and it remains one of those books that I can still find a bizarre emotional satisfaction from.
The one positive aspect of this tale from a technical sense is that it opened the door to other Shannara books. Some fantasy readers would view this as a greater tragedy: an opening of the floodgates of terrible novels. However, I remain convinced that the two to five ensuring novels based on the Shannara novels are of reasonable quality and have some unique themes which have inspired other better or worse authors - and video games and film-makers, Brooks is quite influential in how he inspired fantasy and therefore as an influential book I do think this should be read, you can then feel free to dislike it all you want as a Tolkien knock-off.
To me, this remains one of those guilty pleasures that got me into fantasy fiction. For that it retains an average three star rating. I have read it many times since, though my recent re-reads note how it pales in quality to anything Terry Brooks has written since. That said, I find this a much more entertaining novel than say [b:Wizard's First Rule|43889|Wizard's First Rule (Sword of Truth, #1)|Terry Goodkind|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1316131846s/43889.jpg|1323305], albeit now an entertaining novel for being bad. The rule: it's so bad, it's good, applies here to me.
Of course writing a review like this might lose me some credibility. But it's better to stand up, in my view, and recount one's views strongly, than to back down under the weight of popular opinion merely because others believe you should. So I hold to my views that for teenagers or young children this would be a decent read to get them into fantasy, provided they read the quality of Tolkien first. I would use this book myself to talk about how fantasy can be a vehicle of fine literature or simple guilty pleasure stories - a tool of education. How fantasy can reflect upon our world or simply be a drug of escapism. I think the key thing, regardless of any view on a novel, is to come to a realisation of why you felt as you did regarding a novel. 'It sucks' is simply not a strong enough verdict to me: why did it 'suck', are there no redeeming features whatsoever? Is there no scene buried in all of them where the writer revealed some semblance of skill?
I'm rambling I know, but I simply wanted to fill this space with some form of a review, to fulfil my satisfaction with reviewing those books I have read and can recall. I doubt I'll re-read this anytime soon. Too many classics and quality books to get around to.