Shea was a half-Elven boy adopted into the Ohmsford family in the village of Shady Vale, making Flick Ohmsford his adoptive brother. As a young man he dated a girl named Heady, causing trouble between Shea and other young men in the town like Heady's brother, who didn't want anyone with Elven blood dating their own kind. Shea had also begun having visions of monsters coming to kill him, but he kept these dreams to himself, causing Heady to worry.
Shea was being attacked by Heady's brother and other young men on day when he was rescued by Wil and Mareth, who had come from the future looking for the skull of the Warlock Lord. Wil and Mareth found the skull buried on the Ohmsford lands, under a scarecrow, and they headed back to the future, but not before revealing some of what was to come to Shea. As they were leaving, the Druid Allanon appeared, seeking Shea. Shea and his brother Flick would later accompany the Druid on a quest to defeat the Warlock Lord using the Sword of Shannara.
Shea was able to defeat the Warlock Lord with the Elfstones and the Sword, as well as with Allanon and Flick's help. They managed to hold on to the Warlock Lord's head and sword, but the dark Druid's followers managed to gain possession of his heart.
After defeating the Warlock Lord in the Third War of the Races, Shea married Heady and fathered a son, Wil. However, he found it difficult to adjust to a normal life after having wielded powerful magic. Eventually, he asked Flick to watch over Wil and to raise him as his own. Shea gave the Elfstones to Heady and made Flick promise to tell Wil nothing of magic to keep the boy safe. The Valeman then traveled to the Wolfsktaag Mountains with the Sword of Shannara to isolate himself from others and to keep the Sword out of reach. He died in the mountains, alone and forgotten.
Growing up, Wil ended up not knowing much about his father except Shea had died young. The consensus was that Shea had died a sad old drunk, a lost man who told crazy stories.
As Heady lay dying, she gave to Wil the Elfstones that had once belonged to his deceased father and told him that they contained magic. In her final breaths, she insisted that Shea was a good man, not the crazy person people thought him to be, and that Wil should "seek out the Druid."
When Wil meets the Druid Allanon, Allanon reveals to Wil that he is a descendant of the royal House of Shannara through his father, and he tasks Wil with protecting the Elven Princess Amberle Elessedil. Allanon reveals that Shea was not a sad drunk, but a legendary hero who saved the Four Lands from evil.
A year after Wil helps Amberle restore the Ellcrys, the Crimson razes Shady Vale in search of Wil. Wil returns to the village to look for Flick, who reveals to Wil that Shea's stories were true and that he had accompanied Shea on his quest thirty years ago. He tells Wil that he had initially lied to Wil about Shea's past out of respect for his promise to Shea to protect his son, but points out that in the current situation he can't protect Wil anymore. He argues that whether Wil's father accepted it or not, Wil shared Shea's calling. He said it was wrong of him to tell Wil to throw out the Elfstones, and clarifies that it wasn't the magic that drove Shea mad, but rather Shea's refusal to accept his true purpose.
Changes Made for the TV Adaptation
- In The Elfstones of Shannara, Shea is Wil's grandfather, not his father.
- In The Shannara Chronicles, Wil calls himself half Elf, which would make Shea a full-blooded Elf. However, it is later revealed in flashbacks that Shea himself is half Elf, just as in the novels, making Wil only a quarter Elf at best.
- The thin nature of Wil's Elven blood is a major plot point in Elfstones, as it affects his ability to use the Elfstones. In the TV series, it seems to have no effect at all.
- In the TV series, Shea dies young, affected adversely by liberal use of magic, and in obscurity away from his family. In Elfstones, Wil's grandfather Shea is still alive fifty years after defeating the Warlock Lord and enjoying a quiet old age in Shady Vale.
- In the TV series, Shea passed the Elfstones to his wife, who then passes them to Wil. In Elfstones Wil received them directly from his grandfather Shea.
Shea is half-Elf, the adopted son of the Ohmsfords. His father was an Elf and his mother was human, a distant cousin of the Ohmsfords who left him with them in the village of Shady Vale before she died. He was born in a small Westland community, but has few memories of it.
When the Druid Allanon comes to Shady Vale for Shea, he reveals that Shea is the last surviving descendant of Jerle Shannara, the Elven King who defeated the Warlock Lord centuries ago. As such, Shea is the only one alive who can wield the Sword of Shannara, the magical talisman that can destroy the Warlock Lord forever.
Even though Shea is much smaller than his brother and the rest of the party traveling to the Druids' Keep at Paranor, he has the most courage of them all, as he is the only one left who can wield the great Sword. He is joined on his quest by his friend the Highlander Menion Leah, the Dwarf Tracker Hendel, the Borderman Balinor Buckhannah, and the Elven princes Durin and Dayel Elessedil. Later, when he is separated from his party, he is helped by the thief Panamon Creel and the Troll Keltset.
Shea is described in The Sword of Shannara as having tousled blond hair and penetrating blue eyes.