Book Review: Magic Kingdom for Sale / Sold by Terry Brooks

Title: Magic Kingdom for Sale / Sold

Author: Terry Brooks

Series: Magic Kingdom of Landover #1

Genre: Fantasy

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

The Review:

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

Niki’s Book Recommendations! – If You Liked Sword of Shannara…

If you liked: Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks


Then you might like:

a2Title: The Cleric Quintet

Author: R. A. Salvatore

Series: Cleric Quintet 1-5

Genre: Fantasy

I felt the need to include this book in the list because, although it’s not highly adventurous, the overall writing style and character development made me nostalgic of Brooks’ work. Salvatore also happens to be excellent with epic battle scenes and intricate sword-fights, something I think fans of the Brooks’ books will enjoy (also consider reading the Drizzt series).

a4Title: The Name of the Wind

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Series: Kingkiller Chronicles

Genre: Fantasy

This is the best book that I’ve read in a long time! It has the same overall world-building and general feel to the story that I loved in Shannara, but takes it so much further with everything from character development to plot. I deem this a masterpiece that any fantasy buff should have on their shelf. Read Full Review


a3Title: Pawn of Prophecy

Author: David Eddings

Series: Belgariad

Genre: Fantasy

Arguably one of the first-movers in the genre, these books have everything you’ve come to expect from classic fantasy: fun characters, high adventure, and good conquering evil. These novels are short, but memorable. Read Full Review


a5Title: The Misenchanted Sword

Author: Lawrence Watt-Evans

Series: Legends of Ethshar

Genre: Fantasy

This is one of my favorite authors and one that not many have heard of. All of his books are highly entertaining, and I daresay I liked them better than Brooks. Don’t let the cover scare you off – these are great!


a7Title: Magician: Apprentice

Author: Raymond E. Feist

Series: Riftwar Saga

Genre: Fantasy

This series is a family favorite, and my go-to for customers wanting a good fantasy. While it has the same adventure, I think the character development and overall storyline drew me in a bit more than Brooks’ work. It was also more fast-paced. Read Full Review


a8Title: Eragon

Author: Christopher Paolini

Series: Eragon

Genre: Teen Fantasy

For a kid’s book, this series actually reminds me the most of the Shannara series. Between the characters, the adventure, and the dark creatures they battle along the way, the similarities are endless – including the fact that they are both lengthy and entertaining.

eheTitle: The Eye of the World

Author: Robert Jordan

Series: Wheel of Time

Genre: Fantasy

I don’t think there are many people who haven’t read the Wheel of Time novels, but in case you haven’t, they follow along the same basic storyline of a young man taken from his home for a grand adventure. It compliments the Shannara series quite well. Read Full Review


a9Title: Dragons of Autumn Twilight

Authors: Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

Series: Dragonlance

Genre: Fantasy

My final recommend is a series that boasts some of the funnest characters in the entire genre, and is yet another epic fantasy that most people I talk to really liked (including me).
There you have it! Did I miss any? :)

Coming Soon: Bloodfire Quest

Mar 19..Title: Bloodfire Quest

Series: The Dark Legacy of Shannara #2

Author: Terry Brooks

Release Date: March 12, 2013

Of all the major fantasy authors I try to keep up with I have probably fallen the farthest behind with Terry Brooks. His stories are alway highly entertaining and epic and I feel like he does a great job channeling the feel of “The Lord of the Rings” while still keeping things exciting. I look forward to catching up, but for all you eagerly waiting for the next book: only three months to go! :)