I’m not going to just jump into this one. It needs a bit of background before we unpack the newest part of the baggage. As I say that it sounds like something bad, but not what I intended. It’s more to the point that there is a long history to explore as we come to where we are now. Possibly even a defining moment in time that is reflected in the final subject of today’s thoughts.
So as part of this, we first have to step back into the distant past. I am thinking roughly around the early years of the 1980s. I dare say that it might have been right around 1982. I will date myself here and say I was 10 that year, but it isn’t important in the grand scheme other than to know it was around the time in my life where thoughts were forming toward adulthood and the things I would spend my life with. Which sounds weird, but whose childhood wasn’t?
Anyway, 1982 was the year that the second book of the Shannara series from Terry Brooks had been published; Elfstones of Shannara (Del Rey/ Ballantine 1982). This is significant because I remember getting a copy of this new from the bookstore. I had gotten it because I had read and loved The Sword of Shannara (Random House 1977). That one I had gotten from a used book store or a flea market. And at the time, I didn’t know or understand the world I had opened.
It’s more than just the series that Terry Brooks had started and continues even now. See, at the time these books came out there wasn’t much for fantasy in the world. Not like we know it today. The genre was a bastard child of science fiction and children’s stories. Because it wasn’t real, it wasn’t important. But those who thought like that were wrong, so very wrong. The growth of modern fantasy can still be traced back to these books. Their reach through so many different readers made our fantasy landscape today possible. (keep in mind that the Hobbit was printed as a children’s book. And the larger genre of speculative fiction fell into the pulps category which became trade paperbacks). For me, this was a point where I was consumed by the worlds of fantasy I could see growing from this. And I never turned back.
So, it is a long history of me finding more books written in the Shannara world. That sounds funny because Shannara was a family name from the elves. The world as it turned out was still Earth but a post-apocalyptic version that twisted into a fantasy world. But I digress… Yeah, Mr. Brooks has had me locked into the world he created for somewhere close to 40 years now. That is to say he is still writing books in that world even now.
It’s now this weird moment in time where the people discovering the books think this has always been possible. They look around at the fantasy landscape and think it has always been planted on fertile soil. They don’t understand the world where books like the original story came from. And now I think my reminiscing may take us into a place I don’t think we need to revisit. So, let’s move on, shall we…
We come to now. Don’t ask me to make a count of the number of books written in the overall series. Through the years he has written offshoots of smaller series that add up to the larger world of the series. For the most part they have involved some of the lineage of the Shannara family. And this is a sidetrack moment.
This is part of the problem of trying to tackle a single book in these chronicles. There is so much attached to anything within the series it is difficult to come to a single book without a moment touched by the past. For many of us, this is the past of the stories as well as the world we grew up in while reading them.
The Skaar Invasion (Del Rey 2018) is part of the Fall of Shannara series. The series title alone is set to give us the impression that this might be the final series in the overall stories (yeah, I have thought that before and still more books invade). My mental approach to it has been one of trepidation. Part of me is looking for closure to the world that I have known so long. And another part of me is dying to know what happens next; how will the name Shannara carry on and be remembered into the future.
It’s funny as that last thought brought to mind one of the side stories within this book. We learn more of a street kid named Shea Ohmsford. This was the name of our first hero from the Sword of Shannara. The boy is named after a legend that was so long ago that the stories seem little more than embellishment. At least to the characters in the story. Yeah, I’m not sure where I was going with this thought. Basically, there is so much for me to unpack in this that I have been hitting random trails that take me through the intertwined histories of my own life and the histories I have lived through the books through most of my life.
Where does my life begin and where do the stories end? That may be the most interesting part of this. The stories have been a part of my life for so long now that it seems strange to think that they may finally reach a conclusion.
Speaking of conclusions… I feel like I have been lost in the brambles of these thoughts for so long today and I haven’t actually said anything of merit through the process. Without dipping too deep in this pool of odd thoughts, I will take a moment to say that I like the direction of this series so far. There are so many questions that I want to have answered. The next book in the series will be a welcome read and even then I know that I may be left with more unanswered questions (so far it looks like this might be a four book series).
In the end, Mr. Brooks remains a lifelong companion as he spins tales of a world we may never live long enough to know except through the words of a storyteller.
If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.