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Magic Kingdom of Landover #1

Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold

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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...

324 pages, Paperback

First published March 12, 1986

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About the author

Terry Brooks

388 books77.3k followers
Terry Brooks was born in Illinois in 1944, where he spent a great deal of his childhood and early adulthood dreaming up stories in and around Sinnissippi Park, the very same park that would eventually become the setting for his bestselling Word & Void trilogy. He went to college and received his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College, where he majored in English Literature, and he received his graduate degree from the School of Law at Washington & Lee University.
A writer since high school, he wrote many stories within the genres of science fiction, western, fiction, and non-fiction, until one semester early in his college years he was given The Lord of the Rings to read. That moment changed Terry's life forever, because in Tolkien's great work he found all the elements needed to fully explore his writing combined in one genre.
He then wrote The Sword of Shannara, the seven year grand result retaining sanity while studying at Washington & Lee University and practicing law. It became the first work of fiction ever to appear on the New York Times trade paperback bestseller list, where it remained for over five months.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,337 reviews
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 64 books233k followers
August 1, 2017
I saw this in a used bookstore and picked it up as a nostaglia re-read.

It's a good book, and I enjoyed it. But the pace of the story is much *much* slower than I remember. Part of this might be that I already had read it in the past. Or that I'm much *much* busier than I was as a kid.

But the result is that I ended up doing something I rarely do: I skimmed chunks of the book, mostly description or narration of the main character's thoughts, so I could get to the next bit of action or dialogue.

For all that, I think it held up pretty well. But I don't know if I'm excited enough to dig up a copy of the sequel and dive right in....
Profile Image for Laura.
316 reviews14 followers
January 21, 2009
This was a book that constantly frustrated me by not making the most of its premise. Here you have a pretty original premise, a humorous tone, and a diverse cast of characters, and yet all that emerges is a mildly engaging but not wholly entertaining read. There were countless missed opportunities, and I couldn't help wondering how this book would have fared in, say, Terry Pratchett's far more capable hands.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,144 reviews1,847 followers
September 10, 2016
I actually enjoyed this series better than his more serious offerings.

My attention drawn back to this one sentence review...I found a typo.

The book is a humorous one but not a straight comedy. This falls into the category of literature (and media for that matter) which might be called "humorous or comedy drama". It's done pretty well. (By the way, if you read/finish the book you may think that I had a sort of "prejudice" toward the hero because of, one of the characters...not so, really.)

Lessons to be learned from the book? Be careful of what you buy from those "exclusive" gift catalogs at Christmas. :)
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 3 books599 followers
December 6, 2019
My wife Barb enjoys being read to (as well as reading by herself), and generally likes fantasy, as do I. So it's not surprising that we've read a fair amount together in that genre, nor that Terry Brooks was an author we ran across early. We first read and liked his debut novel, The Sword of Shannara, reasonably well; but we both agree that it has a very derivative dependence on Tolkien, which goes far beyond the obvious influence the British genre giant exerted on all the fantasists who followed him. (In fairness to Brooks, he does display more originality in at least a couple of the voluminous Shannara sequels, though those are the only ones we've read.) The Magic Kingdom of Landover series (of which this novel is the opener), IMO, is where Brooks actually finds his own authentic voice, and produces something that's not just a Tolkien knock-off. For that reason, and because of its intrinsic appeal, it's the part of his corpus that we've liked the best and returned to the most.

I've characterized this as "fantasy with a humorous touch," not "humorous fantasy." By that distinction, I mean that it's not written with the sole purpose of being funny practically from cover to cover, in the manner of, say, Terry Pratchett's Discworld books or Robert Asprin's Myth Conceptions series. Our protagonist has experienced tragedy and been marked by it, which sets up the whole premise here; the situation and plotting is not inherently humorous, and involves real danger, and Brooks incorporates serious (and constructive) psychological messages woven into the warp and woof of the tale. But he also leavens it with a certain strand of situational and verbal humor in places (the character of Questor Thews in particular helps to provide comic relief at times, as do the antics of the G'home Gnomes --so called because any people they visit soon come to tell them "Go home, Gnomes!"-- though I can't remember if they're actually introduced in this book). The overall tone is also, to my mind, somewhat lighter than that of the Shannara books that I've read.

Though only 39, Ben Holiday is a very successful --and as a result, very wealthy; lawyers in his milieu can make a LOT of money-- corporate attorney. But since the accidental death of his pregnant wife two years ago, he's been empty inside, just going through the motions of living, ready for an escape --any escape. So when, as our story opens, his fortuitous thumbing through a high-priced gift catalog turns up an ad for a supposedly bona fide kingship of a land where magic genuinely works, dragons exist, and medieval chivalry prevails, for the price of a million dollars, he's actually ready to consider the invitation "Escape into your dreams and be born again." Of course, he thinks, it has to be a bogus come-on. As it turns out, it's not. Landover really exists, in a dimension of reality apart from our world but accessible, if you know how to do it; and a mysterious man named Meeks will truly peddle that knowledge, for the asking price. But there are a few critical facts that the ad doesn't mention, and which our hero will learn only once he's in Landover....

Brooks tells a good, involving story, well-paced, with rounded and engaging characters whom the reader will like (well, except for the villains). Fantasy elements are handled effectively, and will appeal to genre fans. While it's not written with younger readers directly in mind, the book is suitable for all ages; I don't recall any noticeable bad language, there's no sexual content, and none of the violence is grisly-gory. The sociology of Landover (beyond the fact that its human society is feudal, with barons ruling over peasants) isn't particularly well developed, and Ben's journey towards emotional healing is arguably a bit too glib, and not treated with great psychological depth. But those are relatively minor quibbles.

There are six books in the series to date; Barb and I read and liked the next four: The Black Unicorn, Wizard at Large; The Tangle Box; and Witches' Brew. All of these were read back in the 90s, and we got the books at a local flea market. I only became aware of the sixth book, A Princess of Landover, very recently, so I can't say anything about it specifically. But (since, knowing how much of a backlog of retrospective reviews of pre-Goodreads books I need to write, I'm unlikely to review the others individually) I will say I'd recommend all of the first five books to fantasy fans, and to those wanting to try out the genre. (The books really should be read in order, to better understand the characters and story arc.)
Profile Image for A. Dawes.
186 reviews55 followers
October 3, 2017
This is lighter fare - the kind of book that takes your mind off the real world. Having read it almost three decades ago, I don't know if I'm truly qualified to review it now, but I remember it as a refreshing palate cleanser at the time. I went on to read and enjoy three more in the series.

Plot wise, it's not overly original. It's the basic portal Narnia type of novel. So I can't say that it shaped the field or massively influenced it. Basically, your white American male, Ben Holiday, is a little over the mundane American lifestyle and purchases the Magical Kingdom of Landover for $1 million dollars. Landover is the real McCoy, replete with wizards and all manner of fae folk. It seems the perfect opportunity to start afresh for Ben.

Yet, like any bargain, there's a catch. The Kingdom has been neglected: greedy barons haven't paid taxes; there's a dragon called Strabo wreaking havoc on the farmlands; a nefarious witch, Nightshade, who takes pleasure in destruction; and finally, the Lord of the Demonic Underworld has challenged the new king, Ben, to a duel to the death.

But Ben has friends, a wizard who Ben has turned into a talking dog, and a dryad-like lady who transforms into a tree at night once a month.

As you can imagine, it's simply a fun page turner. Brooks, as always, is fairly derivative, but he handles this world very well. And I'm eventually going to finish the rest of the series as it's simply a great escape.
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
736 reviews1,259 followers
December 5, 2022
Check out my Booktube channel at: The Obsessive Bookseller

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.

Thank you to my Patrons: Filipe, Dave, Frank, Sonja, Staci, Kat, Katrin, and Melissa! <3

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com

Other book you might like (a basic playlist of classic fantasy):
The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, #1) by Robert Jordan Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad, #1) by David Eddings The Chronicles of Narnia (Chronicles of Narnia, #1-7) by C.S. Lewis The Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, #1) by Tad Williams Wizard's First Rule (Sword of Truth, #1) by Terry Goodkind
Profile Image for Tim.
2,180 reviews211 followers
September 1, 2020
The end of this story brings the rating from 1 to 2 stars. While I just may have been happy to get it over with, there was a dearth of excitement until the end. Even then, the conclusion could have expanded some finer points, but fails to do so. 3 of 10 stars
Profile Image for Heather.
29 reviews1 follower
February 11, 2008
This is my favorite book by Terry Brooks! A normal business man finds himself looking to a propertiy for sale... but its a kingdom! He doesn't even believe it and he goes to find out about it. He ends up buying it and goes to a far off world of new kinds. Where he meets a wizard who turned himself into a dog, and his friend Willow a girl who at night turned into a tree. This was not what he had expected to find in his new home. As well as the responsability to go on an adventure to save the town in which he was now king.
Profile Image for hotsake (André Troesch).
678 reviews11 followers
January 2, 2023
The first time I read this book, decades ago now, I thought that it was a solid if slightly unremarkable fantasy story. On this reread, however, I loved the hell out of it. This might be my favorite Terry Brooks novel I've read thus far.
Profile Image for Helen.
43 reviews
February 1, 2012
This is my first Terry Brooks and I was a little hesitant going in. One of my good friends had recently skewered Swords of Shannara and I thought I might be stepping into a pile of crap. However, I was pleasantly surprised with this story. It was light and fun and I had a good time reading it. Maybe Brooks got better as he continued to write or maybe this story just hit me at the right time. Whatever it was, I liked this.
Profile Image for Metodi Markov.
1,340 reviews315 followers
February 16, 2022
Мечтата на всеки един нърд се сбъдва - някакси, един американски адвокат се оказва законен крал на магическо кралство.

Има обаче мъничък проблем - много от замесените в това приключение имат желание да го видят мъртъв или да седнат те самите на кралския трон. Защо пък не и двете?

С поредицата за Шанара на автора нещо не се спогодихме, но към тази поредица, за кралството Ландовър, аз лично нямам никакви забележки!
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11.2k followers
June 24, 2010
3.0 to 3.5 stars. A pretty good book if you are looking for a "lighter fare" fantasy novel. I thought the main character was well written and the story was engaging.
Profile Image for Summer.
61 reviews2 followers
August 8, 2008
It took me a while to sink into this book... seemed like a lot of time was spent in Ben Holiday's disbelief at finding himself in Landover. Yes, it was any sane person's natural response to leave town and enter a hidden world where a person can be accidentally half-transformed into a dog; I just don't want to spend so long wallowing in it.

It took me a while to feel any sort of sympathy for any of the characters. For most of the book I was laughing when they got into trouble - although some of the characters warrant it (particularly the inept wizard Questor, my favorite character). Not until Ben's harrowing journey through Fairie did I start caring about him at all.

The women of the story were flat. While Willow was throwing herself at Ben I just gagged - although I liked her a little better when she turned out to be not quite the sex object Ben would have liked. And it was redeeming on Ben's part that threatened with her loss, he finally comes to accept her for what she is. Nightshade was more interesting, as the villains often are, but she was pretty much just evil, no motivation. Not that the male characters were particularly better, but at least they were original.

The Paladin's secret was frankly cheesy, and I didn't feel there was really enough precedent for it. I may have just missed that, though. And the attempt to bring some sort of psychological depth to the story came off as a little less than poignant.

Still, there were redeeming points and even a few deep thoughts. What do we seek in fantacy, be it through fiction or fairy tales, or through an ad in a department store wishbook? Is it for us as it is Ben Holiday - escape, wonder, nicely drawn lines between good and evil, big clashing battles instead of endless legalistic hearings in the name of justice? In the piece of anti-fantasy fantasy I'm cobbling together, I take lots of stabs at those things. But offered a chance to make a difference as a single person, I must admit I'd be sold.
Profile Image for Lowed.
164 reviews14 followers
January 28, 2011
I always thought this was a funny read. But it wasn't! To tell you, managing a fantasy kingdom is not as easy as it sounds. But I had a good time here. I had a good time at Landover that it makes me sick of frustration that I could not find the second book of the series!
Profile Image for Roman Kurys.
Author 3 books26 followers
January 2, 2021
What an awesome book to kick off 2021 with!

The concept was very intriguing to me and had me curious and as I began to read I just dissolved into it.

This isn’t at all like Terry Brooks’s Shannarah series. I was half expecting to find it similar, but also this isn’t a humorous novel like I had expected it would be. (.ie Hitchhikers, or Discworld). Sure there are funny moments, but there are those in most novels.

This read more like a twisted Narnia story for adults. Not as Grossman’s Narnia in “The Magicians” but a lose adaption of the concept with main hero being an adult.

Magical realism captured me right away and since I am not ashamed to admit that I always wondered what it would be like to be transported into some magical kingdom, this story was particularly satisfactory.

It feels real. The point of view is very relatable (albeit I’m not a lawyer, but it’s close enough) and told very well, I thought where I get to participate in things that are the most mundane moments of your day, like say, brushing your teeth to stuff I have dreamed of doing like, say fighting a demon. Or trying to not die from dragon attacks. Or having my own court mage who is pretty useless, sadly. Or is he?

A very fun read. If you enjoy magical realism stories taking place in another dimension, this might be a good read to pick up.
I know for sure I’ll be reading the next part.

Profile Image for Jenni.
50 reviews
November 24, 2008
I love fantasy books, so of course Terry Brooks was on my list of must reads. The Landover series books were great for many reasons. First it was a light read. I am not saying there is no moral dilemas or complexity, just that you dont have to wrap your brain too deeply around it. I also liked it for the entertainment factor. There was action, but not too much, love interests, but not too much, magic... well you can't overdo that in a fantasy book, evil villians, a bumbling wizard (every fantasy book needs one, right?), and of course a underdog that discovers himself to be the hero. I just thought it was the right kind of book to sit back and relax and read in a day. Plus it has the added benefit of having 4 more books to read afterwards. I'd recomend it for when you want to read a fantasy book but arent in the mood to see half the characters die or try to figure out the movements of a sword in a fight or armys in a war, or contimplate the inplications of harnessing magical power. If you are looking for that then read his shannara series instead.
Profile Image for Sarah Booth.
393 reviews41 followers
December 7, 2019
A really interesting story with a good premise, but could have been filled out a bit better and expanded upon to give a richer feel for the land, the people and the events. The message of fear being one's worst enemy and defeating you before you even start was a good one and because of this I got a lot out of the book, but I felt that events and descriptions were far too sparse and that this was the abridged version, though I know it wasn't. If you're not bothered by a story that isn't fleshed out and rich in writing style, it is a good story. It just seems like it had the potential to be a great story and missed the mark.
Profile Image for Ermocolle.
392 reviews31 followers
June 17, 2021
Un romanzo per animi sognatori.

Un catalogo natalizio con una strana inserzione commerciale e l'avvocato Ben Holiday, in cerca di nuove motivazioni per continuare una vita insoddisfacente e crudele, acquista un regno senza regnante.

Persino il Paladino, il difensore del regno, è scomparso misteriosamente e tutto appare in rovina.

Ben Holiday comincia così la sua impresa di prendere possesso del trono e adoperarsi per riportare il regno ai suoi fasti e onori.

Un'avventura appassionante in un mondo fantastico, circondato dalla nebbia che ne protegge i confini dalla contaminazione con altri mondi, Terra compresa.
Profile Image for Gemma.
165 reviews50 followers
July 25, 2012
I was intrigued by the premise of buying a fairy world (kingship included!), and thank God I was, because it took a few chapters for this to take off for me. Once things got settled, this was a pretty fun and entertaining read for me.

Ben Holiday, lawyer and widower, came across as mopey and unbalanced at first. I can't say he didn't have his reasons, though. His wife was dead, and he was contemplating buying the kingdom of Landover for one million dollars, all on a whim. He was full of doubts for being a successful thirty-something, but given the situation that seemed logical. Within ten minutes of setting foot in Landover, he had to escape the demon known as the Iron Mark and the dragon called Strabo, then ran across the would-be wizard Questor Thews, who wasted no time in demonstrating his ineptitude. Good start! I like how whenever Ben was in over his head trying to validate his claim to the throne, he fell back on his courtroom experience and stayed cool. It was training that served him well.

It's hard to say who I liked best out of the secondary characters. Questor was well-meaning, Abernathy the talking dog (who was once human) was often sarcastic, but he had a level head and gave some good advice, even if Ben didn't take it. Willow the sylph wasn't a main player until about halfway through the book, but she was so steady I couldn't help but come to like her.

There's problems in Landover, and that's for sure. The magic that keeps the land alive is failing, and the only way to save it is for a King to establish himself. But first Ben has to win over the people he'd be king to, and that's not going to be easy. Before the Lords of the Greensward will pledge to him, they want him to get rid of Strabo. Before the River Master will pledge to him, he wants Ben to stop the humans from polluting the river system. To get rid of Strabo, he'll have to convince the witch Nightshade to help him (and I doubt we've seen the last of her yet!). To top it all off, the Iron Mark has challenged him to a duel, and the only way he could possibly survive that is through the help of the Paladin, the King's protector and champion of old. Just one problem: no one has seen the Paladin in twenty years.

If it weren't for the occasional swearing, I wouldn't have been able to guess that this was aimed at adults. It didn't take itself too seriously and it was at times light-hearted and, well, just plain fun. I also appreciated the old school fantasy characters as opposed to the generic ones we're stuck with today, and I can only hope that's a trend that continues through the series. Overall, I'd say Mr. Brooks is off to a fine start as far as I'm concerned. The only thing that kept this from getting a five-star rating was the way the pacing took its sweet time in a few places. Other than that, I can't complain!
Profile Image for Sheila Majczan.
2,352 reviews153 followers
April 16, 2019
I have read all this author's works as have two of my children. We usually read them as they were released. He and John Grisham are both lawyers who now write.
Profile Image for Robert.
513 reviews39 followers
April 6, 2010
It sounds like the premise of a hilarious comic fantasy: Successful lawyer sees a magic kingdom for sale in a Christmas catalogue, buys it, and becomes king. Except, things are not as grand as they seem, and he finds himself accompanied by a talking dog, an incompetent wizard, and two goblins as his only retinue...

Unfortunately, the book never really delivers anything at all. The writing is bland, the humour is, for the most part, absent, and the story is altogether a misfire. There is a touch of fairy tale magic in some plot elements, but it is never delivered in an engaging or delightful way. A saucy minx bathing naked in a lake? Check. A last dragon? Check. A canny evil witch? Check. Do any of them manage to add any energy to the story? Fail.

Our hero is a rich lawyer who has lost his wife and still hasn't overcome her loss. He's frustrated with his profession, grumpy, and looking for something to take his mind of things, and a challenge. Enter the magic kingdom sale. Perhaps if our hero wasn't so busy telling us every emotion he felt, he might be more interesting. Perhaps if he didn't yoyo between cocky lawyer confidence and self-berating failure so frequently, he might be less tedious. But everything about Ben Holiday is tedious. Everything about the kingdom is unfulfilling, not magical enough, a world fallen flat.

So, on the whole, a book that did not make me want to read the other two in this series, or pick up any other Terry Brooks book. I once played a PC game about Shannarah. It was fun. This book, sadly, wasn't, and I am not sure I see the merits in his writing.
Profile Image for Joy H..
1,342 reviews62 followers
February 27, 2010
Re: _Magic Kingdom for Sale--Sold" by Terry Brooks

This is part of Brooks' Magic Kingdom of Landover series. This book is the series opener. My GR friend, Werner says: "With this series, there is a case for reading the books in order; the first one gives some essential basic information, and there is a progressive development of the characters...".

I enjoyed reading this book of fantasy. It kept me reading. It was easy to follow and the fantasy characters were fun to read about. There's suspense and some humor. This is a wonderfully imaginative book to cozy-up and relax with for easy entertainment.

Surprisingly, I picked up some lessons for life from this book. There's a sub-text in which the author demonstrates, through his main character, Ben Holiday, how to overcome fear and how to maintain determination in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Interesting how a simple story like this can deliver such huge lessons subtly and effectively (without preaching), thanks to the skill of its author. Terry Brooks has created a very likable character in Ben Holiday, who sets out against great odds to become King of Landover.

Now I look forward to the next books in the Landover series:
The Black Unicorn (Magic Kingdom of Landover, #2)
Wizard at Large (Magic Kingdom of Landover, #3)
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,042 followers
September 20, 2016
What a neat idea! Very well done other world fantasy novel that's just plain fun & a fast read. The writing is tight for Brooks & the characters are all vibrant. Highly recommended for a beach read.

Brooks is not my favorite author. The first book of his I read was The Sword of Shannara & it absolutely infuriated me since it was such a rip-off of The Hobbit. I wouldn't read anything else by him for years, but eventually I relented since my wife & I had read almost everything else the library had to offer in this genre. This was a very pleasant surprise. There are more books in the series, but they went downhill.
Profile Image for Teri.
1,782 reviews
January 24, 2016
Thank you to my papa for the recommendation!

I enjoyed this, the ending was excellent!
I had a little issue with the beginning, if I've agreed to suspend disbelief, I don't need 70 pages of Ben trying to convince himself or talking of the silliness or impossibility or whatever. I understand the point of it and we learn a good deal about Ben's character and his past and his current state of mind, but it went on a little long for me.

This book is also incredibly descriptive. This is not a bad thing, as obviously this other world needs explaining, it is like nothing we have other seen, but there were times when the length of the descriptions interfered with the momentum of the story--for me anyway.

I loved the characters, the relate-ability of them, their loyalty. I am looking forward to continuing the series.
Profile Image for Kelsey Hanson.
878 reviews33 followers
November 4, 2015
Back in the early 2000s when I first discovered Terry Brooks, I read this series mainly as a way to pass the time when I read out of "Shannara" books. Now rereading this, I appreciate it much more now. I think it is perhaps as an adult, I better appreciate Ben's world weariness and the thought of "What would you do if you had the chance to rule a country and essentially create your own government". This book is also very fun and imaginative with a snarky main character. I also really like the g'home gnomes. They definitely amuse me.
Profile Image for Becki Jane.
17 reviews
February 9, 2023
This was really slow going until maybe 70% in, due in part to the appalling editing. Got there in the end though
Profile Image for Karl Stark di Grande Inverno.
515 reviews17 followers
August 27, 2019
«Grande Alto Signore!» esclamò Fillip.
«Possente Alto Signore!» gli fece eco Sot.

Romanzo molto strano.
Parte in sordina, poi pian piano riesce ad avvincere il lettore; non tantissimo, in verità, ma quanto basta per voler vedere come va a finire.
L'idea iniziale sembra originale, almeno fino a quando non ti fermi a pensare e capisci che è la stessa del Mago di Oz, o di Alice nel paese delle meraviglie: una persona del mondo reale catapultata in un mondo fiabesco.
Al di la di questo, il maggior difetto è quello di stare "a metà del guado": non è troppo epico, ma nemmeno è calato completamente nella realtà. E' umoristico, ma non troppo. Accenna quesiti filosofici, ma non affonda mai il colpo.
Questo voler accalappiare sia lettori "di genere" sia lettori occasionali è un buon intento, ma forse è anche il suo maggior limite.
Limite che viene azzerato nella seconda parte, in cui il romanzo diventa un fantasy ultra-classico a cui Brooks ci aveva già abituati con Shannara.
Penso comunque che leggerò anche gli altri; non immediatamente, ma lo farò.
Profile Image for Emily.
804 reviews118 followers
April 11, 2012
Ben Holiday, attorney at law, is dissatisfied with his life. He sees the justice system becoming more and more flawed and his profession become the butt of every bad lawyer joke. His wife has passed away and he is increasingly withdrawn. When he sees an advertisement for a honest-to-goodness magic kingdom in the Christmas Wishbook, he seizes on his chance to give some more meaning and purpose to his life. He's got more than he bargained for when he arrives to find the kingdom in disrepair and no small amount of dangerous foes clamoring for his throne and his only allies a talking dog, an inept wizard, two kobolds and a girl who is part tree.
With such a premise, I expected this book to be much funnier than it was. I was only disappointed for a few minutes, though, because the story was so engaging as it was. I am not a huge fan of swords and magic epic fantasy, but this really brought a new twist, what with the protagonist being so out of place within the fantasy world. He spends just the right amount of time being amazed and disbelieving of his situation before coming to terms with the reality of the magic and the danger. He shows a lot of fortitude, but not so much that it comes across as disingenuous. The dynamism of the character is also an asset to the narrative. His rag-tag band of supporters are also able to learn and grow through their experiences with Ben, but not so much that there is no room for further development in the sequels, of which there are several. The climax and resolution of the tale is also just the right amount of satisfying whiles still leaving threads to be followed up with in later books.
I must also say that I listened to an audio book of the author's seminal work, The Sword of Shannara, some years ago, and despite the fact that it was the Absolute Favorite Book Ever of the guy I was seeing at the time, was not wholly enamored of the tale. I felt it went on too long and that it did not seem terribly original or engaging. Of course I was also driving from Minnesota to Georgia at the time and might have missed some things while my attention was diverted by traffic. I am pleased to say that I found this book much more pleasurable and may be induced to give that other series a try at some point. I continue to be told that it is rather good.
Profile Image for Becky.
1,378 reviews1,651 followers
November 2, 2009
This was definitely a fun and easy read. Ben Holiday is a disenchanted lawyer who is trying to find some purpose to his life after his wife and unborn child died in a tragic accident. When he sees an advertisement for a magic kingdom being sold for $1 Million, he all but jumps at the chance, even though he only partially believes it could be real.

Of course it is, and there is everything promised in the ad -- except not quite exactly as promised. Everything is running down and withering, because the magic is running out. His magic kingdom is dying and needs a King to save it.

A bit of a problem there though, as none of the inhabitants in the land have much faith in a king who's bought his kingship... Not a heck of a lot you can do as King with only 4 loyal subjects.

This was my very first Brooks book, and I have to say that Brooks' writing style, especially the action sequences, is great. I felt like I was there, that I knew what was going on and how everyone felt about it. During some of the more tense moments, I was literally on edge waiting for the outcome. Things never really resolved themselves in the way I'd have expected, and I like that too. I like being kept on my toes!

Very nice story, well-written and interesting. Not at all what I was expecting. I will definitely be on the look-out for the rest of the series. :)
Profile Image for Debbie.
135 reviews5 followers
March 30, 2009
Listening to this book was so enjoyable. Dick Hill performed the narration and did an excellent job - as he usually does. The story itself was rather more relevant to today than I expected for a book written in 1986. The main character Ben is a disillusioned, depressed lawyer who can't move on after his wife is killed in a accident. He answers an ad in an exclusive wish book catalog about buying a kingdom with all the trimmings; dragons, fairies, wizards, etc.

Trouble starts before Ben even gets to his kingdom, and is compounded each day by new problems. It seems the magic that holds the kingdom together is fading since there has been no king on the throne for 20 some years. As Ben meets each new challenge from the kingdom he overcomes challenges from himself as well. He learns new things about himself and his motives that eventually lead to his victory in saving the kingdom (this is a story about magic, after all). At the end of the book as he stands before his subjects outlining his plans for restoring the kingdom to its former glory, I couldn't help but hear echoes of President Obama's speeches in my mind. Ben is tackling pollution, disparate trade systems, isolationism, and lost hopes. It just sounds too familiar.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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