The Shannara Series Critical Essays

Terry Brooks


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Both adolescent and adult readers agree that this series captivates and mesmerizes its audience, primarily because of Terry Brooks’s use of ancient mythology and common folklore within the novels. He uses what is familiar and exciting to most readers—faerie, magic, and heroic quests—to build a foundation for his novels and then extends these basic elements to a higher level with his own creativity and imagination.

Readers who closely examine the framework for the series will notice threads of Norse and Celtic mythologies. The combination of faerie people and magic is found in Germanic folktales as well as in Irish/Celtic legends. The stories of elves, trolls, sorcery, and the like are well known to Western readers. Most readers of the Shannara series will immediately notice these components and become drawn to the novels subconsciously.

Other mythological allusions exist, including references to the King of the Silver River and the Rainbow Lake throughout the series. The Rainbow Lake is similar to Bifröst, a rainbow bridge in Norse mythology that separates the world of humans from the world of gods. The Rainbow Lake, along with the Silver River, is a separation between Earth and another plane of existence where the good King of the Silver River, a godlike figure, resides. In The Druid of Shannara, the king plays a more active role in the events, sending forth his daughter to sacrifice herself to regenerate the land. She is...

(The entire section is 560 words.)