Epic Fantasy Book Review | Small Magic by Terry Brooks

Escape to worlds full of adventure and magic in the first-ever Terry Brooks short-story collection, featuring both new and fan-favorite stories from all three of his major literary worlds: Shannara, Magic Kingdom, and The Word and the Void.

Here are heroes fighting new battles and struggling to conquer the ghosts of the past. Here are quests both small and far reaching; heroism both intimate and vast. Here we learn of Garet Jax’s childhood, see how Allanon first located Shea Ohmsford, and follow an old wing-rider at the end of his life. Here we see Knights of the Word fighting demons within and without, and witness Ben Holiday and his daughter each trying to overcome the unique challenges that Landover offers.

This collection of eleven tales is a must-have addition to the Terry Brooks canon—a delightful way to spend time with favorite characters, and a wonderful reminder of what makes a Brooks story such a timeless classic.

Small Magic is full of beloved characters set in well-known worlds, comprising stories that range from satisfying to remarkably bittersweet.

I loved the introductions before each story. Brooks’ gave me a peek into his creative world with these anecdotes as to why each story came to be. I always find this type of background information as fascinating as the stories themselves, and I was not disappointed. The rare glimpse behind the curtain utterly enthralled me.

Overall, I enjoyed the range of action and emotions brought out and new stories discovered. The world-building and characters are as well-developed as I have ever found in the novels, and the fact that it is done in just a few pages is commendable and enjoyable to read. I particularly enjoyed the stories from Shannara, but that is only because these are the characters I know and love. It is also helpful that each story provided just enough back story to help the reader remember which series it is from without weighing down the story with too much exposition.

My favorite Shannara-based story is hands down, Last Ride. It is about Tiger Ty of the Wing Rider Elves, who initially transported Wren Ohmsford through part of her heroic adventure (Heritage of Shannara). Even if you do not know the original tale he first appeared in, this short story will still resonate as it is a story about the universals of aging, family, traditions, and passions. It is the only story – and it is next to last – that brought a tear to my eye as I could empathize with Ty, his son, his grandson, and even his Roc, Spirit, as they took one last journey to save Ty’s son who had gone missing.

I also particularly enjoyed Aftermath and Allanon’s Quest, which features characters I know and remember well. I’ve always been a massive fan of Allanon, so I was happy to read the story about how he came to find Shea Ohmsford before the beginning of the original tale. As I would have expected, it was quite a complex tale, and it kept me captivated from beginning to end.  Aftermath featured two other beloved characters – Garet Jax and Stee Jans – and answers the fan question, is there a connection between the two characters, and if so, what is it? It puts all the rumors to rest and explains it so that even though it was not part of any of the original novels felt as if he could be.

With a collection as full as this, how can any fantasy fan not pick it up and enjoy just a bit more of the stories that have now been laid to rest? I know that I couldn’t!

14 Replies to “Epic Fantasy Book Review | Small Magic by Terry Brooks”

  1. It’s been so long (decades) since I’ve visited Shannara, but reading through your review, resurrected so many memories. This collection sounds like a winner!

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    1. It definitely brings up long forgotten memories. Such a good nostalgic read.

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    1. The format is nice because you can read it in small sittings. And you can totally follow after having watched the series.

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  2. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read Terry Brooks, but he’s been in my TBR for years. Like you, I always enjoy hearing about the origins of stories. Sometimes they’re very bizarre and entertaining.

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    1. They are very good. I’ve read them sporadically over the years and loved them. I think I finished the original Shannara trilogy(?) and then random books in related series.

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  3. This sounds like a fun read, Tessa. I like Terry Brooks, and its interesting that these stories are based on other books. A nice introduction or follow up, either way. Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂

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    1. It is very cool. He answered fan questions about different potential plot-lines that happened outside the scope of the stories with a lot of those.

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