The single most influential book I ever read was the Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. I distinctly remember being 13 years old standing in the book store and picking this book up off the shelf. I didn’t like to read, never had any desire to read. This book changed all that. To this day I still read fantasy almost exclusively, and compare each book back to Terry Brooks.
What the Sword of Shannara brings is magic, an array of races, and a grand adventure. The main character Shea, must endure many hardships and learn to understand his heritage, so he can save the world of today. Relying on his best friend (accepted as his brother), and doing his best to trust magic that he really doesn’t understand, he goes in search of a legendary sword that will eliminate an evil that is threatening to over take the world.
Yet, the way Brooks tells us the story is the most important thing in my opinion. He is able to lay before the reader a wonderful land and plot that reads comfortably, and actually moves through the story. In this day of Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind (both authors that I really enjoy) and the overly verbose and countless pages of useless discussion of clothing and name dropping, Terry Brooks delivers the information in a very entertaining and robust setting, yet moves the story along so the reader doesn’t lose interest. Brooks will always be one of my favorite writers because of his imagination, but also in the manner in which he writes it. He tells a great story.