Title: Magic Kingdom for Sale / Sold
Author: Terry Brooks
Series: Magic Kingdom of Landover #1
Rating: 3/5 stars
The Overview: Landover was a genuine magic kingdom, complete with fairy folk and wizardry, just as the advertisement had promised. But after he purchased it for a million dollars, Ben Holiday discovered that there were a few details the ad had failed to mention. Such as the fact that the kingdom was falling into ruin. The barons refused to recognize a king and taxes hadn’t been collected for years. The dragon, Strabo, was laying waste to the countryside, while the evil witch, Nightshade, was plotting to destroy no less than everything. And if that weren’t enough for a prospective king to deal with, Ben soon learned that the Iron Mark, terrible lord of the demons, challenged all pretenders to the throne of Landover to a duel to the death – a duel no mere mortal could hope to win. But Ben Holiday had one human trait that even magic couldn’t overcome. Ben Holiday was stubborn. -Goodreads
I admittedly don’t have a lot of patience for classic fantasy stories. Ones of the simple variety with a straight-forward plot, typical magical creatures, and slews of trophy themes riddled throughout. It feels like once you’ve read one, you’ve basically read them all.
Magic Kingdom was entirely part of that same mold.
If you’re going to pick up a classic fantasy, however, you could do much worse than this series by Terry Brooks. The book was written well and even though I’ve seen all of the story elements before, they were deftly presented. I was particularly engaged at the beginning (which takes place in our world), following a character who’s trying to decide if he’s going to take a leap of faith. It was a strong start, and basically my enjoyment hinged on whether or not eventually making it to Landover and seeing what it had to offer was worth the buildup. It wasn’t… but I still oddly enjoyed my time reading it, regardless. Truthfully, had it not been reading the book for my Read/Burn/Hoard challenge, I may have abandoned it within 100 pages of making it to Landover and not discovering anything compelling. That and the general flow of the writing kept me going, but it was a close thing.
One thing I learned after reading the back cover flap is that Brooks has a graduate degree in law and practiced for several years before becoming a writer. The main character in this book is also a lawyer, and I could totally see the extra connection Brooks had to the him and how his knowledge of legal matters enhanced the story. I love it when writers bring additional expertise to their works.
The plot in this first book was pretty basic, but I still find myself interested in seeing where it will go next. Perhaps now that we’ve taken an entire novel to get acclimated to this new world, we can start exploring it and getting a little more creative in the subsequent ones. I’m at least committed to reading book two, then deciding from there.
Recommendations: pick this one up for a typical classic fantasy experience. Of the portal variety.
Other book you might like (a basic playlist of classic fantasy):
by Niki Hawkes
Oh my, I read this one about twenty years ago I think! I enjoyed it ok back then, but never read any further than book two, because those were the ones I had. I always thought I’d get back to it some day and never did. I used to be obsessed with his Shannara series as a late teenager though. They were probably the first proper fantasy books I read.
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It’s quite the throwback!! I remember my mom having these on the shelves when I was 4 or 5. I wish I had read these and more of the Shannara back in my teens because I think I would’ve loved them a lot more. As it is, I’m glad I finally read this one. :)
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