Shannara is an epic fantasy series of novels written by Terry Brooks, beginning with The Sword of Shannara in 1977 and continuing through Witch Wraith which was released in July 2013, as well as a prequel, First King of Shannara. The series blends magic and primitive technology and the books are set in the Four Lands which in some books is identified as Earth long after civilization as we know it was destroyed in a chemical and nuclear holocaust called the Great Wars. By the time of the prequel First King of Shannara, the world has now reverted to a medieval state and magic has re-emerged to supplement science as humans and other races live in a place known as the Four Lands, which is a future North America. Further into the novels science starts to become more advanced.[not verified in body]
Skull Bearers were Druids once upon a time, but they were subverted by the Ildatch along with Brona, who would later become the Warlock Lord. They "sacrificed their humanity" to become "winged black destroyers"; but in doing this, they tied themselves to their master, the Warlock Lord, and became his "dread minion[s]". Reviewers and critics had mixed opinions on the Skull Bearers. Praise for them came from Frank Herbert, the author of Dune, who also liked all of the "monsters" in The Sword of Shannara. He said that "[Terry] Brooks creates distillations of horror that hark back to childhood's shadows, when the most important thing about a fearful creature was that you didn't know its exact shape and intent. You only knew that it wanted you. The black-winged skull bearer, for instance, is more than a euphemism for death."Tom Shippey wasn't so positive, as he thought that the Skull Bearers were very familiar to those who had read The Lord of the Rings: he found that the Skull Bearers were "analogues" for the Nazgûl.
Jerle Shannara begins the story as captain of the Home Guard, the elite group of Elven soldiers whose sole duty is to protect the King. Jerle is distantly related to the Elven king, but he becomes next in line for the throne when the Warlock Lord's minions assassinate the entire royal family with the exception of the last son of Courtann Ballindarroch (the king), Alyten, who happened to have been away on a hunting trip, and two grandchildren of the king who were still toddlers.
Demons is a common name for many different creatures. novels by Terry Brooks. The 'true' demons were sealed long ago within an alternate universe, named the Forbidding; this prison is 'maintained' by the Ellcrys, a sacred Elven tree; if she dies, the Forbidding fails. The Demons first threatened the Four Lands when the Ellcrys began to die in The Elfstones of Shannara, but were defeated.
The Dagda Mor is the antagonist of the series novel The Elfstones of Shannara, by Terry Brooks. He is the most powerful Demon that is locked inside the Forbidding. As such, he is their leader—most of the others obey him out of fear, with a few notable exceptions, such as the Reaper. He channels his magic through his "Staff of Power".
The Changeling could mimic the appearance of any living thing. Though he "had been denied the full use of his powers [while in the Forbidding]", he was one of two Demons Dagda Mor brought out of the Forbidding to help him; this was due to how "the possibilities were endless. All things, whether human or animal, fish or fowl, no matter their size, shape, color or abilities — he could be any of them."
The Reaper was known for its killing. Unlike almost all of the Demons that were trapped behind the Forbidding, the Reaper served Dagda Mor "out of whim and not out of fear or respect."[non-primary source needed]
The Druids are an order of historians, philosophers, magic-users, teachers and researchers. Druid Magic, like most of the magic that originates in the Four Lands, is elemental. It draws from the earth, air, fire and water in various forms. Its power is enhanced or weakened by the strength of the user. Some users would find more success with talismans like the Sword or the Elfstones than others, as we've seen in the books. Sometimes the magic of a talisman or an external source links with the magic innate in a user, causing various results. Like science, magic is uncertain, and the results of its application are not alway predictable.[dead link]
Shea Ohmsford is the protagonist. In the universe, he is the last known person with the blood of Jerle Shannara, making him the only one who can wield the powerful Sword of Shannara to vanquish the Warlock Lord. A major theme of The Sword of Shannara revolves around Shea. Part of his quest, in addition to killing the Warlock Lord, includes finding a belief in himself, so that he will have confidence to go on. This is a search that every subsequent Brooks protagonist must undergo. Scholar Tom Shippey believed that Shea was too familiar to those who had read The Lord of the Rings: he found that Shea and Flick were "analogues" for the hobbits of Tolkien's stories.Terry Brooks stated in his autobiography that "[his] protagonists [Shea and Flick] are cut from the same bolt of cloth as Bilbo and Frodo Baggins."
Garet Jax is known as the "Weapons Master"[dead link] Garet first appears when he rescues Jair Ohmsford from a band of nine Gnome Hunters, defeating eight of them single-handedly—he killed six, knocked out their leader, and one fled. The ninth, Slanter, doesn't even attempt to fight, saying that he was only working with them because he had to, and he has heard stories about the fighting prowess of Garet. Terry Brooks expressed his desire in the beginning of Dark Wraith to further explore the relationship between Jair and Garet Jax.
Chronological list of novels
These sections list the book series in the order as their events occur within the universe of Shannara, as opposed to their actual chronology of publication (which began with the original trilogy, not word & void) which is listed by year of publication at Terry Brooks#Shannara series.
Word & Void
The Word & Void series (also called 'The Word and The Void') focuses on John Ross and Nest Freemark, forced acquaintances who use magic given to them from the Word to prevent mankind from being overcome by the demonic forces of the Void. It trilogy consists of Running with the Demon, A Knight of the Word, and Angel Fire East and is predominantly set in present-day Illinois. It follows Nest Freemark, a girl with magical abilities who has no known relationship to any Shannara character. Before the publication of Armageddon's Children it was unclear whether this trilogy existed within the Shannara universe. It has since been revealed as the "ultimate prequel" to the Shannara novels.