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The End of a 43-Year Rip-Off Book Series

November 10, 2020
Rip-off! Rip-off! Rip-off!

I bought The Sword of Shannara when I was in 7th grade and knew right away it was a rip-off of The Lord of the Rings. That doesn’t mean it was bad.

The Sword of Shannara was actually okay for a rip-off. At the time, it was a self-contained novel. The author wrapped everything up in one book. At least, I thought he did.

Somewhere along the way, the author wrote a bunch more Sword of Shannara books, and somebody who was not me (or I) bought them. Over the next 43 years, the author Terry Brooks made a bunch of money from his Tolkien rip-offs.

The writer side of me is interested in what Terry Brooks has to say about being an author. The reader part of me thinks… RIP OFF!!


I wrote Sword (of Shannara) with no expectations. It was a first novel, so I didn’t know if I could get published, I didn’t know if anyone would read it, I didn’t know anything. So when it was successful, this led automatically to thinking about what I could do next, because there at least was a future here. I wrote a sequel, and then I decided to make it a trilogy, because even then, trilogies were in, and then I wanted to wrap the whole thing up.

Read more at… As the Shannara Saga Ends, Terry Brooks Looks Back…and Forward.


On a side note, George R.R. Martin might look at Terry Brooks and think “43 years? That gives me 20 more years to finish Game of Thrones.”


What do you think? Are rip-offs inherently bad? What is your favorite rip-off?

  1. As soon as I saw your post title I thought, Uh Oh, George R R Martin better not see this… and then I read your side-note. I hate rip offs with a passion, mostly because I used to write Tolkien rip-offs back when I was eleven. Reading them now has me in stitches because they’re more like childish ramblings than rip-offs – but I digress. If the rip-offs are so good that you can’t tell it’s a rip off, then perhaps it’s not so bad. After all, most things are influenced by other things. It’s how we progress as a society and a culture. I don’t know if I have ever read a rip off – can you recommend any good ones?

    • A truly good rip-off? I’m going to think about that one.

      I liked The Sword of Shannara, but I was in 7th grade when I read it, and I’m not sure I trust my judgment back then.

  2. I hate rip-offs. I think the one that annoys me most in the Battle Royale rip-off, The Hunger Games. It is so obvious.

    • I probably wouldn’t have known about Battle Royale if not for The Hunger Games. At least Suzanne Collins ripped off a book that wasn’t originally written in English.

  3. Dennis L. McKiernan’s The Iron Tower Trilogy is the most insane rip off I’ve ever seen. It downright copies entire characters and plot points from LOTR. The main characters are little people called Warrows with names like Tuck Underbank. Theres a long sequence where they have to traverse the dark depths under a mountain, the entrance to which is guarded by a creature in a small lake, and of course it attacks right before they enter. It’s not good, but it’s worth reading just to see how blatant and over the top the rip off is.

    • Dennis L. McKiernan’s The Iron Tower Trilogy? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that one. I can’t believe there’s a Tolkien rip-off that I’ve never heard of!

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