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Showing 1-10 of 21 reviews(4 star)show all reviews
on September 18, 2003
Terry Brooks is the undisputed master of presenting fantasy-novel concepts in a fashion that the "average Joe" can latch on to and identify with. His Shannara series has improved with every subsequent novel, and this legacy promises to continue with his upcoming series of books. However, Brooks does not deign to mimic the worlds and plotlines of "Shannara" with the "Magic Kingdom" series; rather, in my opinion he simply looks to create a fun and fascinating universe that, again, the average person can enjoy.
Lawyer Ben Holiday, while not the most dynamic character in fantasy fiction, is nonetheless interesting and his perspective is well-conceived and written. He must tackle the challenges of owning Landover, his very own newly-purchased fantasy kingdom, the reality of which is obscured from his view from page one. His comrades, the court wizard Questor Thews and the loyal scribe and half-canine Abernathy, are unwittingly comical in their sincerity and approach to matters. Holiday's adversaries, while at times cliche (a dragon and a witch), are regardless interesting in and of themselves (Strabo the dragon is positioned as a cynical yet introspective pseudo-philosophical being with sparse but powerful fascinations). And our hero's challenges range from daunting to hilarious, often spanning multiple adjectives in between and invoking a plethora of emotions from the reader.
To those looking for a serious fantasy-epic compendium, I advise you strongly to avoid "Magic Kingdom" and its sequels. One must approach "Magic Kingdom" from a completely different angle than, say, "Wheel of Time" or "Shannara." Holiday's adventures in Landover are whimsical (to us, anyways; the more so because they are not for him) and the land's creatures, stock-standard though they often are at times, each possess a unique and engaging personality that has become Brooks' hallmark (Strabo's wizened introspection in solitude, Nightshade's driving disdain and fury for weaker beings, Kallendbor's politicianesque power plays and, in the later books, Edgewood Dirk's maddening simplistic disinterest in human worries and dreams). Expecting a complete detachment from life on our blue planet is the wrong approach to take here; instead, Brooks has given us the "Layman's Guide to Escaping Reality in Five Easy Steps." Chapter One, "Magic Kingdom For Sale: SOLD!" is a perfect introduction to this concept, and I highly encourage anyone looking for a fresh idea in the light-reading realm to purchase this book and its series brethren.
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on July 22, 2003
Terry Brooks broke into the fantasy scene with his widely popular Shannara series, but here he breaks out of the epic fantasy mold and creates a fresh new series, one that challenges us right down where we live and breathe. Ben Holiday, a successful trial lawyer is having what amounts to a mid-life crisis, exacerbated by the recent loss of his wife and unborn child in a tragic auto accident. Lost, bereft of purpose and will, he stumbles onto an add in a catalog for a magic kingdom that is for sale. And then the fun begins. He buys the kingship, travels to the land, and realizes that behind all the magic and fantasy of Landover, the problems of running a kingdom are pretty similar to normal every day challenges that face us in life. The collection of characters that Ben meets in this new world are extremely entertaining, especially the dragon Strabo, who may be one of the most unforgetable characters in all of fantasy. Humor, action, mystery, and times of deep reflection: this series has it all, and is sure to please. Every book in this series is a solid 4 stars or better in my opinion. One of the few fantasy books that made me laugh out loud at times when I read it, especially any time Strabo and the hapless wizard Questor Thews get together. I read this series again and again, and you should too!
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on January 30, 2003
"The kingdom was in ruin. The Barons refused to recognize a king, and the peasants were without hope. A dragon was laying waste the countryside, while an evil witch plotted to destroy everything..." Printed on the backside of the paperback, this passage explains Ben Holiday's problems after paying a million dollars to enter and rule in a fairytale land; Landover. In a special magazine called Rosen's Christmas Wishbook, Ben reads of an "...island of enchantment and adventure rescued from the mists of time, home of knights and knaves, of dragons and damsels, of wizards and warlocks." With his wife dead, and no near family, Ben enters Landover and promises to fix the dilemmas which Landover and its creatures have had for the past two centuries.
Before Ben Holiday, the protagonist in the novel, accepted his job as King, there had been roughly two dozen past kings who have failed, all paying the million to a man named Meeks. Meeks, a native of Landover, planned to make fortunes by selling the Kingship to unworthy subjects. Yet he made a mistake by appointing Ben, for Holiday did not quit, and undertook the long plans of restoring the kingdom.
With description and creativity, this novel could be called a tremendous accomplishment. Terry Brooks, in his first Non-Shannara novel, uses vivid characters, to help Ben Holiday as King. His creativity in describing the "bonny blues," the main food source of Landoverians, will draw a perfect picture of the bluish tree in your mind. With leaves tasting of melon, and the branches of milk, the bonny blues contain all of Terry Brooks' imagination. One of Brooks' most striking accomplishments would be a scene where Ben fights another Lord, when Ben tries to accumulate allies to support the Throne. In this scene, Brooks' description reaches Tolkien's level of detail. With lines like, "The big man turned, grunting, and Ben hit him again, once, twice, a third time..." Brooks give you an opportunity to experience battles, not just to read about them.
The plot in A Magic Kingdom for Sale--Sold!, slowly develops, but after it gets rolling, it keeps tumbling ahead. With action filled scene after scene, Ben Holiday is faced with the many perils of Landover as he tries to regain the allies of old.
Unlike his Shannara series novels, Brooks uses a more down-to-earth style of writing--not saying that his Shannara novels aren't down-to-earth--but A Magic Kingdom has fewer main characters, trapped in a smaller world, with less inhabitants. This book doesn't have the blood and gore of his other works, but has more "pleasant" battles, with no wars whatsoever.
As Ben Holiday rids Landover of the evils and allies himself with the good, he discovers the one thing that has held back the previous kings in the past. This, a theme throughout the novel, remained as the act of believing in yourself. Once Ben did this, he could master the magic hidden from Landoverian Kings for the past century. He uses this magic from the side of good, returning Landover to its former self.
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on January 30, 2003
"The kingdom was in ruin. The Barons refused to recognize a king, and the peasants were without hope. A dragon was laying waste the countryside, while an evil witch plotted to destroy everything..." Printed on the backside of the paperback, this passage explains Ben Holiday's problems after paying a million dollars to enter and rule in a fairytale land; Landover. In a special magazine called Rosen's Christmas Wishbook, Ben reads of an "...island of enchantment and adventure rescued from the mists of time, home of knights and knaves, of dragons and damsels, of wizards and warlocks." With his wife dead, and no near family, Ben enters Landover and promises to fix the dilemmas which Landover and its creatures have had for the past two centuries.
Before Ben Holiday, the protagonist in the novel, accepted his job as King, there had been roughly two dozen past kings who have failed, all paying the million to a man named Meeks. Meeks, a native of Landover, planned to make fortunes by selling the Kingship to unworthy subjects. Yet he made a mistake by appointing Ben, for Holiday did not quit, and undertook the long plans of restoring the kingdom.
With description and creativity, this novel could be called a tremendous accomplishment. Terry Brooks, in his first Non-Shannara novel, uses vivid characters, to help Ben Holiday as King. His creativity in describing the "bonny blues," the main food source of Landoverians, will draw a perfect picture of the bluish tree in your mind. With leaves tasting of melon, and the branches of milk, the bonny blues contain all of Terry Brooks' imagination. One of Brooks' most striking accomplishments would be a scene where Ben fights another Lord, when Ben tries to accumulate allies to support the Throne. In this scene, Brooks' description reaches Tolkien's level of detail. With lines like, "The big man turned, grunting, and Ben hit him again, once, twice, a third time..." Brooks give you an opportunity to experience battles, not just to read about them.
The plot in A Magic Kingdom for Sale--Sold!, slowly develops, but after it gets rolling, it keeps tumbling ahead. With action filled scene after scene, Ben Holiday is faced with the many perils of Landover as he tries to regain the allies of old.
Unlike his Shannara series novels, Brooks uses a more down-to-earth style of writing--not saying that his Shannara novels aren't down-to-earth--but A Magic Kingdom has fewer main characters, trapped in a smaller world, with less inhabitants. This book doesn't have the blood and gore of his other works, but has more "pleasant" battles, with no wars whatsoever.
As Ben Holiday rids Landover of the evils and allies himself with the good, he discovers the one thing that has held back the previous kings in the past. This, a theme throughout the novel, remained as the act of believing in yourself. Once Ben did this, he could master the magic hidden from Landoverian Kings for the past century. He uses this magic from the side of good, returning Landover to its former self.
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on December 22, 2001
Although it was not the typical Brooks, suspenseful and compelling, fantasy novel, I wouldn't consider criticising it. Terry Brooks' attempt to create a sprightly fantasy world was not unsuccessful.
The tale begins with Ben Holiday, whose general state of existence is remorseful and melancholic because of the tragic death of his wife and child many years ago. He is a successful lawyer, and his life seems incomplete until he discovers that he can evade reality. After debating with his partner in law, Miles, he purchases a Magic Kingdom from a respected corporation known for their unusual merchandise. What Ben did not know until purchasing the Kingdom was that Landover was in an impossible and seemingly irreparable state.
Eventually, Ben overcomes the difficulties of Landover, as well as the inner conflict of which has been manifesting inside him since his wife and child's death. The characters in Landover are quirky and fascinating, and help deliver the outcome of truly believing in yourself in a package that many of us can relate to.
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on August 26, 1999
This is most definitely one of the best fantasy books I have read in a long time. Mr. Brooks has given this Magical Kingdom, Landover, a vivid description and an ever present sense of unpredictability. The hero, Ben, is capable and easy to root for, yet has enough flaws and makes enough mistakes to seem human. There is no one main villian, or nemesis if you will, but an assortment of rivals and troublemakers which test Ben's strength and intelligence to the utmost. His group of friends and supporters, small though they may be, have abilities which Ben is able to discover through his perception of others. For a fantasy story, this one was incredibly realistic, which made it very easy to read and to keep reading. I felt this sense of realism was balanced by the presence of Ben's knowledge of our Earth, and his experiences in it. To this end I would have to disagree with other reviewers, in that I feel Mr. Brooks added to this book by having it start on Earth, and didn't detract from it. Despite all this, the book was not perfect, and some parts were not done to the standard set by the others. For example, the mystery of the Paladin, and its sudden appearances and disapperances were not really explained by the explanation presented at the end of the book. All in all, I do believe this is a very different (and possibly better) book than many of the fantasy stories written today, and certainly is a very good read.
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on January 14, 1998
Terry Brooks has done it again in the first non-Shannara book he has written. Boredom is experienced in the first half of this book, but results in a stunning ending. This book does not compete with the Shannara series, but is one great book to read.
This book has a few humorous parts, but still is packed with classic fantasy adventure. Ben Holiday, a lawyer, buys a magical kingdom in need of a king badly, not knowing the troubles the kingdom faces. A witch and a dragon are terrorizing the land and no one but a puny race will support the Ben. Ben has to go through many near death experiences with the aid of no one but Paladin who only shows up when Ben is in danger. His only servants are a bumbling wizard named Questor Thews (who can't cast the spells he tries to cast), a talking dog named Abernathy (who is very critical), two disgraceful gnomes (who are also eaters of dogs, which is a practice Abernathy finds disgusting), and a fairy called Willow (who turns into a tree when threatened).
Overall, the book is pretty entertaining. The only part I didn't like was that it was a little boring in the first part. If it weren't for that, I would have rated this book a 9 or a 10. Rent it, buy it, just read it!
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on April 28, 2003
This is about a man named Ben Holiday. He is a lawyer by profession, and ever since his wife died he has thrown himself into his work. Something of a obsession for him. Even though the story starts two years after her death, he makes it seem like it was just last week. One day he received a magazine addressed to his wife. In it is an advertisement about a magic kingdom for sale. He decides that he could use a little adventure, and so he starts looking into buying it. When he does he discovers (after he has paid the 1 million dollars) that its allot harder being king then he thought.
The characters where developed and believable. Each has a different personality and the hero has the right characteristics. On the whole I thought it was a enjoyable read. Although you might get the impression that this is a funny book, it is not (Which I found slightly disappointing). Still that does not stop it from being an good story. Also, this is nothing like the Sword of Sharrna books.
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on April 14, 2000
Ben Holiday, a solemn lawyer who had lost his wife and daughter did the most unusual thing one day: buy a faroff fantasyland and become a king for it. And he did it all with a very straightforward mind as if he is still back on Earth - he even went jogging through the enchanted forest near his new palace! In addition, our hero befriended a whole cast of very interesting fantasy characters like a comical wizard, a talking dog with human hands, and a very luscious green-skinned forest nymph who could turn into a tree and looks ready to throw her fabulous body at the stern-faced lawyer who still misses his lost family. And what is more, our hero got much more than he bargained for: a great mission to overthrow all the enemies like the wizard's evil twin, a dragon, and a sorceress holding an iron grip on the lovely little fairyland that he had inherited. A very delightful, imaginative ride through the pretty place gently illuminated by several colored moons!
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on October 19, 2002
This is a typical fantasy book, and then again it is not.
It is about a disenchanted guy, Ben Holiday, living the city life, trying to get over his wife's death. One day, he stumbles upon an advertisement in a catalogue: "MAGIC KINGDOM FOR SALE". Amused at first at the ridiculousness, Ben is slowly drawn in by the fairy-tale-like idea of knights in shining armor and wizards and castles.
Unfortunately, life as the king of a magic kingdom is not all it is cracked up to be, as Ben soon discovers. He begins to despair when most of the kingdom's subjects are distrustful and refuse to help him, and his only followers are a group of misfits. Things only become worse when a demon lord challenges Ben to a duel he cannot possibly hope to win without help.
This is a very good book, about human relationships, and how courageous even ordinary people can be.
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