I just now finished this 700+-page beast and am wondering how long I'll wait until I read the next one in the series - I quite enjoyed it. Brook made me buy The Sword of Shannara one night about a week ago when we were in the Chapters (I know, I know I should not have purchased a book in the evil empire; blame Brook) at John and Richmond - we were killing time before seeing the terrible, terrible film adaptation of Beowulf.
We went into the Chapters and saw a lineup longer than...the longest lineup you can imagine times a hundred. We discovered that Slash, formerly of Guns-n-Roses (Guns 'n' Roses?) fame, was there signing his book for a bunch of rabid fans. The only safe place was the Fantasy section.
While hiding/browsing there, Brook found The Sword of Shannara, which he read when he was a kid; he suggested I buy it if I wanted a good yarn. He also admitted to wanting me to read it so that if it sucked he wouldn't waste his time rereading it. That's love for you.
Like I said, I quite enjoyed it. There was a quest, hardship, evil trying to snuff out good, great displays of courage, near despair, and characters 95% of which were male and 98% of which were sexless. It was, in other words, classic high fantasy and it didn't fail to deliver a compelling yarn. Unlike the Lord of the Rings trilogy, to which it's been (in my opinion) unfairly compared, it thankfully featured no singing.
Finally, the main character's name is Shea - how could I not read it and enjoy it?