Elves, Swords, a quest, magic, it’s all pretty standard Fantasy stuff, and that’s why I have largely forgotten The Wishsong of Shannara aside from the fact that once upon a time I read it and liked it. The Shannara series started out in the late 70s and the third book arrived almost a decade later, just in time for me to find it at the end of elementary school and the start of Jr High.
I am going to pause here from talking about the book and talk about my relationship with reading. I started kindergarten when I was 4 years old in the fall of 1977, and turned 5 about three weeks later, I had to be the youngest kid in my class until I became the oldest. When I was in the second grade my reading did not improve over the course of the year and my parents had me held back and repeat the second grade. I can recall clearly being annoyed and bored with the reading books we were given, Honeycomb and Cloverleaf. I also recall being attracted to the older schoolbooks from the 40s and 50s that some teachers kept in their rooms, and I recall visits to the school library and not finding many books that really related to my world there.
When I was in the 4th grade I had one of those old school teachers who wasn’t going to fall in line with all the new fangled education theory and among other things she insisted that we read. She also read to us, Where the Red Fern Grows and Call it Courage were both read aloud in class… along with a couple of 50s text books, one called If I Were Going that ignited my imagination about seeing Norway, and that we do book reports. To this day I look back on the structure of her reports, synopsis, tell what you liked, tell what you didn’t like and tell the class if you recommend the book as THEE structure for any kind of review. I think that it is safe to credit her more than another teacher for getting me to read, and by the time I was in the sixth grade I was reading at an eight-grade level.
Somewhere in there I picked up the Shannara books the first two were already out, the second one The Elf Stones was the first book that I literally stayed up all night reading. It was the 4th of July in the mid 80s…. when the Wishsong came out I was ready for it. The plot was about evil coming back into the world, and the Omsford clan once again is called upon to put a stop to it. Quests are started, Allies gathered and danger faced in route, but it all works out pretty well in the end… until the next series of course. I don’t recall any of those books either, even though I did end up reading the next 5 or 6 entries in the series. .. It’s true that I have forgotten the book and it’s plot and most of the characters and what I really liked about it…. But in this case maybe what is important is that I remember that it was important to me once upon a time.