Brooks, Terry 1944–
Brooks, Terry 1944–
Born January 8, 1944, in Sterling, IL; son of Dean Oliver (a printer) and Marjorie Iantha (a homemaker) Brooks; married Barbara Ann Groth, April 23, 1972 (marriage ended); married Judine Elaine Alba (a bookseller), December 11, 1987; children: (first marriage) Amanda Leigh, Alexander Stephen. Education: Hamilton College, A.B., 1966; Washington and Lee University, LL.B., 1969.
Home—Seattle, WA; HI. Agent—Anne Sibbald, Janklow & Nesbit Associates, 445 Park Ave., New York, NY 10022.
Called to the Bar of the State of Illinois; Besse, Frye, Arnold, Brooks & Miller, P.C. (attorneys), Sterling, IL, partner, 1969-86; writer, 1977—.
Authors Guild, American Bar Association, Trial Lawyers of America, Illinois State Bar Association.
Best Young Adult Books citation, American Library Association, 1982, for The Elfstones of Shannara; Best Books for Young Adults citations, School Library Journal, 1982, for The Elfstones of Shannara, and 1986, for Magic Kingdom for Sale—Sold!
"SHANNARA" SERIES; FANTASY NOVELS
The Sword of Shannara, illustrated by the Brothers Hildebrandt, Random House (New York, NY), 1977, reprinted, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1991, published as The Sword of Shannara: The Secret of the Sword, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2003.
The Elfstones of Shannara, Ballantine/Del Rey (New York, NY), 1982.
The Wishsong of Shannara, Ballantine/Del Rey (New York, NY), 1985.
The Sword of Shannara Trilogy, (includes The Sword of Shannara, The Elfstones of Shannara, and The Wishsong of Shannara), Del Rey (New York, NY), 2002.
The Druid's Keep, Ballantine/Del Rey (New York, NY), 2003.
"SHANNARA" PREQUEL TRILOGY; FANTASY NOVELS
First King of Shannara, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1996.
Born of Wild Magic, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2006.
"HERITAGE OF SHANNARA" SERIES; FANTASY NOVELS
The Scions of Shannara, Ballantine/Del Rey (New York, NY), 1990.
The Druid of Shannara, Ballantine/Del Rey (New York, NY), 1991.
The Elf Queen of Shannara, Ballantine/Del Rey (New York, NY), 1992.
The Talismans of Shannara, Ballantine/Del Rey (New York, NY), 1993.
The Heritage of Shannara (includes The Scions of Shannara, The Druid of Shannara, The Elf Queen of Shannara, and The Talismans of Shannara), Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2003.
"VOYAGE OF THE JERLE SHANNARA" SERIES; FANTASY NOVELS
Ilse Witch, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2000.
Antrax, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2001.
Morgawr, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2002.
"HIGH DRUID OF SHANNARA" SERIES; FANTASY NOVELS
Jarka Ruus, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2003.
Tanequil, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2004.
Straken, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2005.
"GENESIS OF SHANNARA" SERIES; FANTASY NOVELS
Armageddon's Children, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2006.
The Elves of Cintra, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2007.
The Gypsy Morph, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2008.
"MAGIC KINGDOM OF LANDOVER" SERIES; FANTASY NOVELS
Magic Kingdom for Sale—Sold!, Ballantine/Del Rey (New York, NY), 1986.
The Black Unicorn, Ballantine/Del Rey (New York, NY), 1987.
Wizard at Large, Ballantine/Del Rey (New York, NY), 1988.
The Tangle Box, Ballantine/Del Rey (New York, NY), 1994.
Witches' Brew, Ballantine/Del Rey (New York, NY), 1995.
"WORD AND THE VOID" TRILOGY; FANTASY NOVELS
Running with the Demon, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1997.
A Knight of the Word, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1998.
Angel Fire East, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1999.
Hook (novelization of film), Fawcett Columbine (New York, NY), 1992.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (novelization of film), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1999.
(With Teresa Patterson) World of Shannara (guidebook to Brooks's fantasy world), illustrated by David Cherry, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2001.
Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life (memoir and writing guide), Del Rey (New York, NY), 2003.
Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy, Del Rey Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Dark Wraith of Shannara (graphic novel), illustrated by Edwin David, adapted by Robert Place Napton, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2008.
Many of Brooks's works have been adapted as audiobooks. The "Shannara" series has been adapted as a CD-ROM game.
With his successful multiple-volume "Shannara" series of novels, Terry Brooks has established himself as a fantasy writer who has crossed over into the mainstream. Brooks's debut novel, The Sword of Shannara, was the first work of fantasy fiction to appear on the New York Times trade paperback best-seller list, and its publication heralded a new era in the popularity of the fantasy genre. Brooks is considered one of the founding fathers of fantasy-adventure, and his titles have sold more than fifteen million copies in the United States and abroad. By mid-2004, nineteen of his novels had hit the New York Times best-seller list, proving that Brooks's fiction has appeal to readers who are not necessarily fantasy buffs.
Born and raised in a small town in Illinois, Brooks began writing fiction as a child when he staged imaginative adventures to amuse himself. He also liked to read adventure novels such as those by Alexandre Dumas, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. In college and later law school, Brooks dabbled in fiction as a hobby. He taught himself to write while working for seventeen years as an attorney at a law firm in his hometown.
When he became more serious about writing, Brooks settled upon the fantasy genre because he wanted to be able to craft an adventure tale that was independent of recorded history. "Fantasy is the only canvas large enough for me to paint on," he explained in an online interview for the Random House Web site. "It lets me capture the magic I felt reading my favorite books, and imagining my own worlds. A world in which elves exist and magic works offers greater opportunities to digress and explore. I think that it gives both the reader and writer more room to play." In an interview with Robert Neilson published in Albedo One, he elaborated: "I don't look at my work as principally fantasy; I look at it as adventure stories. So that my approach to storytelling is from that viewpoint. Now I'm always inclined to do it with fantasy trappings, because that allows me to do things that I can't do otherwise. I'm not pinned to this world. I'm not pinned to this time and place. I'm not pinned to what we know to be absolutely fixed about this world. And I can do metaphorical study much better."
The Sword of Shannara was the first manuscript Brooks ever submitted for publication. The second publisher to see it bought it. That publisher, Lester Del Rey, placed great faith in the book not only as a piece of literature but as a force for creating a bigger market for fantasy. The Sword of Shannara "became a Del Rey project to prove that fantasy fiction would sell to a large, commercial, fiction audience," Brooks said in his Albedo One interview. "They essentially established The Sword of Shannara as the lynchpin for a series of books they were going to publish, that would sell commensurate with any piece of fiction out there." The idea was a sound one: The Sword of Shannara became a best seller, and the "Shannara" series has drawn legions of fans.
Upon its first publication, The Sword of Shannara received an ambivalent reception, and although critical reception of his subsequent works has improved, Mari- lyn Achiron in a People interview noted that "most critics ignore his work." Despite this lack of attention—which has traditionally extended to most genre fiction—Brooks's fantasy-adventure stories have been bestsellers, and those reviewers who have taken stock of his work have found his sense of humor and the moral underpinnings of his stories appealing.
Brooks once commented that when he begins to feel jaded with the "Shannara" books, he switches to other projects as a diversion. As a result, "Shannara" has had three incarnations, and Brooks has produced two other well-received series. The "Magic Kingdom of Landover" series began with the idea that a wealthy man might be able to buy his own kingdom from a catalogue. In Brooks's hands, this premise became the foundation of a darkly humorous adventure in which a bored lawyer seeks a more interesting alternate universe. Roland Green, writing in Booklist, noted in his review of series sequel The Tangle Box that Brooks has a "surer touch with humorous fantasy than with the saga."
Brooks also found intriguing the idea of setting a fantasy series in a small Midwestern town similar to his own hometown. Thus was born the "Demon" books, in which mortals gifted with magical abilities must vie with supernatural demons who seek to dispatch humankind to a Void. The central character, John Ross, is a "Knight of the Word," a reluctant hero who gains insight into his foes by dreaming of the past and the future. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised Brooks's portrayal of a "hometown of Norman Rockwell blissfulness primed for demonic devastation." In Library Journal, Cassada suggested that the series provides a "tale of a courageous man's dedication to a demanding cause." Another Publishers Weekly critic felt that the strength of the "Demon" series lies in Brooks's "orchestration of the tale's social issues and personal dramas into a scenario with the resonance of myth."
Myth and morality play important roles in Brooks's fiction. While good and bad are not portrayed in stark shades of black and white, the protagonists generally strive in a mythic-heroic way to control evil, personified in a variety of forms. "I write in a tradition of fairy tales and mythologies in which [a strong moral tone is] indigenous to the writing form," Brooks said in Albedo One. "I think that's what's interesting to people, because it's something that we have to come to grips with in our own lives." He added: "If I were writing science fiction, I'd be writing about ideas…. But fantasy is about character and about relationship between characters, and there is a strong moral undertone in most fantasy."
In 1999, Brooks announced that he was returning to Shannara for a new series of as many as five more novels. The first of these, Ilse Witch, in the "Voyage of the Jerle Shannara" series, begins 500 years after The Sword of Shannara, although some of its characters are introduced in the "Heritage of Shannara" series. As the new saga unfolds, the Druid Walker—the last of his kind—sets off to retrieve an elfin treasure that is also coveted by the deadly and powerful Ilse Witch. A Publishers Weekly correspondent called Ilse Witch a "lively new adventure … with an array of well-defined characters and malevolent beings." Cassada declared in Library Journal that with Ilse Witch, the Shannara mythology "gains a new level of history and depth."
With the publication of Jarka Ruus, Brooks began another series, the "High Druid of Shannara," and in this first installment reintroduces several characters from his "Voyage of the Jerle Shannara" series. C. Caston Jarvis wrote in the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service: "Though one could be forgiven in thinking the Shannara series had about run its course, Brooks is an old hand at these sagas—this book is his twenty-first novel—and he once again finds room in his imaginary land to weave together a compelling story of mystery, adventure and romance. As a result, [Jarka Ruus] is sure to leave Brooks's legions of fans restlessly awaiting his next installment."
Tanequil, the second book in the "High Druid of Shannara" series, was welcomed by favorable reviews. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that "Brooks's efficient pacing, skillful characterizations and suspenseful plotting all bode well for the trilogy's conclusion." That ending, titled Straken, was published in 2005. A critic writing in Kirkus Reviews called the novel "a satisfying conclusion in the trilogy's climax."
Brooks kicked off a new Shannara series in 2006 with Armageddon's Children, the first title in the "Genesis of Shannara" series. This series serves as a prequel of sorts, traveling back to the origins of Shannara and explains how the Four Lands came into existence. Set at the close of the twenty-first century, the book depicts the earth as almost entirely depleted due to the carelessness of humankind. In addition to the poisoned atmosphere and land, terrorists have ravaged the planet, making it even more unfriendly to human life. In the United States, people have huddled together in small groups, seeking shelter in protected regions that have been set up across the country. Demons are emerging and contributing to the destruction, drawn by the chaos all around them. It is up to Logan Tom, one of the demons' enemies and a Knight of the Word, to seek out some means of salvation, so he goes in search of a magical creature that might be able to protect humans from extinction. Another Knight, Angel Perez, finds herself in the bizarre situation of needing to help the Elves, a race she had not previously known existed. And finally, Hawk, the leader of an underground resistance group in Seattle, discovers his role in the planet's rescue might be more significant than he could have imagined. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that "fans and newcomers will be riveted as the fate of the human and Elven worlds hangs in the balance." A contributor for Kirkus Reviews found the book "steady, absorbing storytelling, if, typically, lacking narrative tension. And don't expect any sort of ending: In anticipation of sequels, the book just ceases."
The series continues with The Elves of Cintra. Despite the title, the story actually follows three different paths, one of which continues to follow Angel Perez as her group encounters the elves of the title, and together they search for the missing Elfstones that are necessary if the Elven race is to be saved. A second strand of the story involves Tom Logan and his followers, survivors known as Ghosts, who are traveling across the country in an attempt to reach Hawk. The third remains with Hawk himself, whom readers discover is a living key to the planet's survival and to the continuation of civilization. Reviews for this installment of the series were mixed, with some critics enthusiastic about Brooks's fresh take on his beloved world, and others opining that he has spent far too much time enmeshed in the same universe, to the point of having drained his concept dry. Nathan Brazil, in a review for the SF Site Web site, wrote: "Much as I want to like Brooks' work, ultimately, there are better, fresher ideas available to readers, from authors not content to trade on past glory." However, David Roy, writing for the Curled Up with a Good Book Web site, remarked that "Terry Brooks seems to thrive in a post-apocalyptic setting. Either that, or his change of venue for the Shannara series has re-energized him a bit."
In addition to his imaginative fiction, Brooks has also published two novelizations of films, Hook and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He found the "Star Wars" title in particular to be both a career-enhancing and creatively stimulating opportunity. "There are some very strong similarities between Shannara and Star Wars: the light and dark sides, flawed family histories impacting future generations, the usage of magical powers," the author explained to Melanie Rigney in Writer's Digest. "I was allowed to do a number of chapters that are not in the movie [because] there's a lot of history that's not in the movie just for time and space constraints." Brooks added: "If you're an up-and-coming or midlist writer, this can be an excellent opportunity. Use it as a jumping-off point for your career."
As for his own place in the publishing landscape, Brooks is satisfied that his work sells well and that he can make a living by exercising his imagination. In an interview for the Web site TheOneRing.net, he was invited to describe himself. "I'm a solid, workmanlike writer, plain and simple," he replied. "I'm a storyteller with a love of adventure. That's what I am and who I am."
Brooks took advantage of an opportunity to share the secrets of his writing success when he published his memoir and writing guide, Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life. Roland Green, writing for Booklist, pointed out that the volume "is more a collection of essays than a connected narrative." He added that "some essays are more worth reading than others." However, a Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded that the book is a "succinct and warmhearted autobiographical meditation on the writing life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Brooks, Terry, Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2003.
Albedo One, winter, 1997-98, Robert Neilson, "An Interview with Terry Brooks."
Booklist, March 15, 1994, Roland Green, review of The Tangle Box, p. 1302; July, 1999, Ray Olson, review of Angel Fire East, p. 1892; June 1, 2000, Sally Es- tes, review of Ilse Witch, p. 1796; January 1, 2003, Roland Green, review of Sometimes the Magic Works, p. 832; June 1, 2004, Sally Estes, review of Tanequil, p. 1670; June 1, 2005, Sally Estes, review of Straken, p. 1711.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2005, review of Straken, p. 713.
Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, May 18, 1999, Jeff Guinn, review of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace; September 17, 2003, C. Caston Jarvis, review of Jarka Ruus.
Library Journal, February 15, 1990, Jackie Cassada, review of The Scions of Shannara, p. 215; February 15, 1992, Jackie Cassada, review of The Elf Queen of Shannara, p. 200; April 15, 1994, Jackie Cassada, review of The Tangle Box, p. 117; March 15, 1995, Jackie Cassada, review of Witches' Brew, p. 101; October 15, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of Angel Fire East, p. 111; August, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of Ilse Witch, p. 167.
People, May 10, 1993, Marilyn Achiron, "Laying Down the Law," interview, p. 53.
Publishers Weekly, September 25, 1987, review of The Black Unicorn, p. 98; January 19, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Scions of Shannara, p. 101; December 20, 1991, review of The Elf Queen of Shannara, p. 68; April 4, 1994, review of The Tangle Box, p. 62; February 20, 1995, review of Witches' Brew, p. 199; July 28, 1997, review of Running with the Demon, p. 57; July 13, 1998, review of A Knight of the Word, p. 65; September 13, 1999, review of Angel Fire East, p. 65; August 21, 2000, review of Ilse Witch, p. 53; December 16, 2002, review of Sometimes the Magic Works, p. 52; August 2, 2004, review of Tanequil, p. 56; August 7, 2006, review of Armageddon's Children, p. 37.
Washington Post, May 21, 1999, Gene Weingarten, "Instant ‘Menace,’" p. C1.
Writer's Digest, June, 1999, Melanie Rigney, "May the Writing Force Be with You," p. 16.
Curled Up with a Good Book, http://www.curledup.com/ (May 4, 2008), David Roy, review of The Elves of Cintra.
Random House Web site, http://www.randomhouse.com/ (July 26, 2001), "The Demon Series: An Interview with Terry Brooks."
SF Site, http://www.sfsite.com/ (May 4, 2008), Nathan Brazil, review of The Elves of Cintra.
Terry Brooks Home Page, http://www.terrybrooks.net (July 26, 2004).
TheOneRing.net, http://www.theonering.net/ (July 26, 2001), interview with Brooks.
Zealot.com, http://www.zealot.com/ (July 26, 2001), "Luck, Law, and Lester del Rey (Oh, and Shannara, Too): Zealot Interviews Terry Brooks."