Shannara is a high fantasy book series written by Terry Brooks and published in 1977-2020. The setting of the adventures is a post-apocalyptic world called the Four Lands, where magic and pre-industrial technology exist side by side in the damaged landscape that remains after a chemical and nuclear holocaust caused the fall of a previous civilization and wiped out most human life on the planet.
The first book of the series, The Sword of Shannara, is set 2,000 years after the apocalypse. Since the apocalypse, the surviving humans have mutated into several distinct races – all named after creatures from old myths. There are Men, Trolls, Dwarves, and Gnomes. Also, the Elves are slowly beginning to re-emerge after staying hidden for a very long time. The Southland (the southernmost of the Four Lands) is primarily the homeland of Men, while the Northland is mostly inhabited by trolls, the Westland is the homeland of the Elves, and most of the dwarves and gnomes live in Eastland.
Mundane heroism and ordinary people are thrown into extraordinary situations are two main themes in The Sword of Shannara, and these themes are present in many of the other books as well throughout the series.
- Imaginary Friends (1991)
- Running with the Demon (1997)
- A Knight of the Word (1998)
- Angel Fire East (1999)
- Warrior (2018)
- Armageddon’s Children (2006)
- The Elves of Cintra (2007)
- The Gypsy Morph (2008)
- The Bearers of the Black Staff (2010)
- The Measure of the Magic (2011)
- The First King of Shannara (1996)
- Allanon’s Quest (2012)
- The Sword of Shannara (1977)
- The Black Irix (2013)
- The Elfstones of Shannara (1982)
- Aftermath (2021)
- The Weapons Master’s Choice (2013)
- The Wishsong of Shannara (1985)
- Indomitable (short story) (2003)
- The Dark Wraith of Shannara (Graphic Novel) (2008)
- The Scions of Shannara (1990)
- The Druid of Shannara (1991)
- The Elf Queen of Shannara (1992)
- The Talismans of Shannara (1993)
- The Last Ride (2021)
- Ilse Witch (2000)
- Walker and the Shade of Allanon (2013)
- Antrax (2001)
- Morgawr (2002)
- Jarka Ruus (2003)
- Tanequil (2004)
- Straken (2005)
- Wards of Faerie (2012)
- Bloodfire Quest (2013)
- Witch Wraith (2013)
- The High Druid’s Blade (2014)
- The Darkling Child (2015)
- The Sorcerer’s Daughter (2016)
- The Black Elfstone (2017)
- The Skaar Invasion (2018)
- The Stiehl Assassin (2019)
- The Last Druid (2020)
Origins and development
Terry Brooks started writing The Sword of Shannara in 1967, when he was a twenty-three year old law student at Washington and Lee University. He had read J. R. R. Tolkien´s high fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings in college, and it served as strong inspiration for the creation of The Sword of Shannara, but Brooks was also influenced by adventure novels set in history, such as Ivanhoe by Walter Scott, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson, and The White Company by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Completing The Sword of Shannara took seven years, as Brooks worked on it now and then during his university studies. The book was rejected by the publisher DAW Books, but the editor D.A. Whollheim suggested Brooks should send it to the editor Judy-Lynn del Rey at Ballantine Books instead. Ballantine Books accepted the book, and del Rey used it to launch Ballantine´s new Del Rey Books imprint/subsidiary.
In 1977, The Sword of Shannara was released as a trade paperback by Ballantine Books and as a hardback by Random House. The cover had been created by the famous Brothers Hildebrandt.
During its first month in print, The Sword of Shannara sold circa 125,000 copies and its success helped boost the fantasy genre and prove to publishers that there was a strong demand for epic fantasy books. It even became the first fantasy fiction novel ever to make it onto The New York Times trade paperback bestseller list.