By: Grethel Delgado

"The Sword of Shannara" (Oz Editorial) is presented to the reader as the first volume of an epic fantasy saga that has sold 25 million copies in various languages.

Another bestseller? Maybe not. In reality, it's possible that "The Sword of Shannara" is part of that small library of fantasy written in the 20th century that not only stands apart from more contemporary works in terms of language, style, and quality, but has also inspired many of today's beloved fantasy authors, such as Patrick Rothfuss, the author of "The Name of the Wind," Christopher Paolini, the creator of "Eragon," and the extraordinary Frank Herbert, the creator of "Dune" and its science fiction universe.

For those familiar with J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," reading the first volume will unmistakably evoke parallels, perhaps even a bit more so, with the first book of the Ring Trilogy, where Frodo must escape the Shire, fleeing from the Ringwraiths, and when the Fellowship of the Ring is formed.

But these similarities do not imply anything negative for the narrative quality of "The Sword of Shannara." We must remember that we're talking about "The Lord of the Rings," for many the greatest and most complete epic fantasy saga ever written. Therefore, if a book evokes echoes of Tolkien's work, and does so with skill and its own style, the comparisons can only result in positive impressions. And that is undoubtedly the case with "The Sword of Shannara."

Set in an alternate post-apocalyptic future, the world of the Four Lands is divided based on the races that inhabit the different territories. A tense peace permeates the air, which may be nothing more than the gestation period for another great war, like the infamous First and Second Wars of the Races, which previously ravaged the world and condemned it to the loss of technology, or as it's called in the book, the ancient sciences and machines. Shea Ohmsford, a young half-elf raised among humans in the Shady Vale, where he was abandoned as a baby, discovers that he is the last known heir of the royal dynasty of Shannara.

Shea was left at the doorstep of the Ohmsfords and has since been treated as one of the family, leading a peaceful life in Shady Vale, like another son of the innkeeper Curzad Ohmsford and his son Flick. Everything will change with the arrival of a mysterious visitor: Allanon, the last of the Druids. Allanon not only reveals Shea's true identity but also brings shocking news: the sinister Warlock Lord Brona has returned. Brona was once a Druid, like Allanon, but his studies in witchcraft led him astray from the main path of the Druid Council. Brona devoted himself to the study and understanding of mystical arts, delving into the secrets of the mind and the power to reach other worlds. He was obsessed with increasing his power, with dominating men and the world they inhabited through it. The result of his ambition was the aforementioned war, in which he managed to dominate the weak and confused minds of the race of men and forced them to declare war on the other races, all subject to the will of a man who was no longer a man, a man who could no longer even control himself.

The only weapon capable of defeating the sorcerer is the Sword of Shannara, but only the true heir of the elf Shannara can wield it. To do so, Shea must escape the relentless pursuit of the Skull Bearers, ancient Druids who once had human form and were part of the Druid Council, but who could not avoid succumbing to witchcraft and the power of Brona. The very form of these Skull Bearers is the embodiment of evil.

The Sword of Shannara, the ultimate goal of Shea and his companions' journey, was forged by Bremen, a great Druid who knew how to confront Brona. The Druid created a talisman capable of facing a creature that was no longer human. The sword draws its power from the desire of men to live free and is the only thing capable of defeating the Warlock Lord.

In "The Sword of Shannara," we witness a self-contained epic story that serves as the beginning of the great saga of "The Chronicles of Shannara," where the reader can follow the adventures and fates of the descendants of many of the characters introduced in the first volume, such as Shea, Flick, or Prince Menion Leah, not to mention the omnipresent and wise Allanon. Undoubtedly, it's a whole new world to enjoy exploring in this work by Terry Brooks.

Terry Brooks was born in Sterling, Illinois, a rural town in the Midwest of the United States, and spent most of his life there. He practiced law before becoming a full-time author. As the author himself has acknowledged on several occasions, Tolkien's works were his inspiration to delve into creative writing, and his dedication to creating fantasy worlds marked a radical turning point in his life.

There are numerous rumors of adaptations to the big screen of some of the stories from "The Chronicles of Shannara," although nothing has been officially announced at this time. Studios like Universal Studios and Warner Bros have previously acquired adaptation rights to various fragments of the world of the Four Lands.