Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Brooks' bestselling Shannara trilogy may have been at heart a formulaic fantasy but its vigorous storytelling and intriguing characters won many readers. In his first non-Shannara novel, he takes on another well-worn premise: the contemporary Earthling transported to a fantasy world. Ben Holiday is a lawyer who finds little satisfaction in his work. His yearning for a simpler life seems thwarted when he finds the magic kinddom of Landover, a close analogy of Earth, with precariously balanced powers threatening each other, massive pollution, and general discontent centering on a lack of faith in leaders. This first volume in the new series is mainly introductory as Ben meets the locals and dashes off a few impossible tasks to assert his right to the throne. While still inventive, Brooks fails badly in his lackluster, unbelievable protagonist, his preachy moral tags and the adolescent, daydream quality of Ben's triumphs. Shannara fans are in for a disappointment.
School Library Journal
The advertisement for a fantasy kingdom in a Christmas catalog catches the eye of Ben Holiday, who was recently widowed and dissatisfied with his life; he finds a make-believe world of medieval splendor appealing. But when he arrives in the alternate world of Landover, all is not fun and jousting. Dangers abound, and his actions have a life-and-death reality. The castle is a rusted heap, its army disbanded, and the entire kingdom decayed from the loss of magic. Only a ragtag handful of retainers remain in the castle to serve the new king. Even worse, the feudal lords are in revolt, a dragon ravages the land, and the first pretty girl Ben meets turns into a tree. A demon lord has pledged to kill any king, and the ghostly knight intended to protect the throne is an empty pile of armor. Ben tackles things head on and finds the strength to conquer problems both mundane and supernatural. This is the first episode of the "Magic Kingdom of Landover" series. Narrator Dick Hill demonstrates his talent and imagination by giving each fantasy character a unique voice. Written in 1986, this is recommended for all collections that include fantasy fiction.
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