I really want to reread a book I read years ago. I can't remember the title, but I remember that for most of the book it just appears to be a classic fantasy book, but part way through the main character finds a ruined city and a robot, and it turns out it is a post-apocalyptic future several millennia after a nuclear war. Does anyone know what book this is? I really want to read it again.

As a side note, it could be by Philip K. Dick, but I'm not positive on that one.

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    Fantasy turning out to be postapocalyptic is a very common trope. What else do you remember about the book? What kind of characters did it have? What kind of fantasy creatures? What kind of magic if any? What about technology?
    – user56
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 19:53
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    There was no magic that I can remember. Humans, elves and dwarves were the main races but it was revealed they were all humans that mutated over time from the radiation. Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 19:57
  • @LordApricot Elves actually were always there, but most of the other races mutated from the radiation. Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 16:41

1 Answer 1


This sounds like it may very well be The Sword of Shannara series by Terry Brooks.

I remember reading it and feeling it was a basic fantasy, until at one point the story moves to the ruins of an ancient city. If I recall correctly, a monster that was an ancient robotic device then menaces them, at which point I understood that it really was a post-apocalyptic scenario.

It's been many, many years since I read it, but the wikipedia entry does mention the background of the races and the general post-nuclear loss of technology, although it does explicitly mention that magic is a part of the story:

The Sword of Shannara's events take place 2000 years after an apocalypse has occurred: nuclear holocaust has wiped out most of the planet. During this time, Mankind mutated into several distinct races: Men, Dwarves, Gnomes, and Trolls, all named after creatures from "age-old" myths. Also, the Elves begin to emerge after having been in seclusion and hiding for centuries. The warring that caused the holocaust is referred to as the "Great Wars" throughout the novel. These wars rearranged the planet's geographical attributes and wiped out most life forms on Earth. As a result of the Great Wars, most advanced technology has been lost, thus most of the events in the Shannara series take place in a medieval setting. However, magic is also back into the world, rediscovered after the loss of technology.

  • After reading your answer I looked through my basement and actually found that book! Thanks for the help. Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 12:01
  • Terry Brooks ties it all back in with The Word and The Void trilogy and then the Genesis of Shannara trilogy, in which we see the origins of Shannara. Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 16:39
  • That was an incredible intuitive leap. Well done!
    – fectin
    Commented Jul 29, 2018 at 16:06

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