The Sword of Shannara, I'm not even sure it's fair to say that the first volume of the five-part "Belgardiad" series is actually bad at all; in my opinion, a better word would be "mediocre." Like Brooks, Eddings took a lot of his cues from The Lord of the Rings, borrowings surface elements of Tolkien's tale to craft what is for me Exhibit A in why nearly every fantasy book I read nowadays was written prior to 1975.
Pawn of Prophecy is a by-the-numbers epic fantasy that tells the story of a young orphaned boy named Garion raised on a farm by his aunt Pol. Garion's early years, though comparatively idyllic, are nevertheless laden with portent, as Garion often experiences visions of what may be the future, though interpreting them is difficult for him. Likewise, Garion hears a "dry voice" in his head that advises him on the best course of action. Eddings thus makes it clear early on that Garion is no ordinary peasant boy but it is in fact destined for great things over the course of the series.
The nature of Garion's destiny begins to become clearer when a mysterious storyteller arrives at Aunt Pol's farm. The storyteller, whom Garion has seen in his visions beforehand and whom he dubs "Mister Wolf," informs Garion that his life is in danger from the same man who slew his parents and that, to save himself, he must flee the farm immediately. Aunt Pol joins him, as does a local blacksmith named Durnik. As it turns out, the companions are doing more than merely fleeing a threat to Garion's life. Mister Wolf is also interested in finding out what happened to a magical artifact that was recently stolen that, it is hinted, -- wait for it -- pertains to Garion's destiny. The rest of the novel consists of Garion, Mister Wolf, and Aunt Pol traveling the world on this quest, in the process acquiring new information and companions to aid them.
Pawn of Prophecy is pretty unsatisfying on its own, since it's very explicitly part one of a five-part epic. It's also terribly clichéd, filled with all the characters, events, and ideas that one has come to expect from post-Tolkien high fantasy. Yet, I find it very difficult to dislike Pawn of Prophecy. Eddings was not a great writer by any means, but he's readable, especially if you're young and have little experience of either the fantasy genre or more talented authors. And, oddly, the very fact that he incorporates so many fantasy tropes and archetypes into this series makes it cohere better than it really ought to.
Let me stress that, like the Shannara series, I don't count myself a fan of David Eddings books. They're derivative and repetitive and don't really bring anything new to the table. I find it hard to view them as anything more than juvenile literature, which, given that nearly everyone I've ever met who read them did so when they were young, is probably the case. I think there's both a place and a need for derivative literature aimed at juveniles and, judging by the popularity of Pawn of Prophecy and its sequels, I'm guessing I'm not the only one who feels this way -- just don't try to argue that David Eddings (or Terry Brooks, for that matter) produced a "classic" to rival Tolkien or Wolfe.