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The Great Wars are a fictional conflict from the Shannara series by Terry Brooks.

According to legend, the Great Wars were a result of several things. These things were common to most societies: territorial dispute, political disagreement, and so on. With the publishing of Armageddon's Children, it is revealed that Demons serving the Void (the collective embodiment of evil) started the Great Wars.

The wars became extremely serious when they broke into full scale combat between different groups. The uncontrolled energies unleashed by the sciences Man had developed over the years tore across the earth, drastically altering the landscape and killing most of the life in the world. A small percentage survived, among them remnants of the race of Man. The Wars had caused such upheaval that Man had divided into four races, only one of which remained seemingly unchanged. The rest were different.

One race had fled beneath the surface of the earth to escape the effects of the Great Wars. Thus becoming accustomed to underground life, their eyes adapting to darkness while their bodies became short but strong. When they emerged, they were nearly blinded by the light of the outside world. Because of their new appearance, they were called Dwarves, after a mythical race of the Old World.

The origin of the Gnomes is the survivors who fled to the forest.

The survivors of the war living in the mountains were mutated by the energies unleashed in the conflict, becoming large and powerful figures. Their skin became tough and bark-like, and they were known as the Trolls. Another effect was that most facial features were smoothed out, making it extremely hard to read a Troll's expression.

A small percentage of the few survivors of the Great Wars remained unscathed by the mutation. They retained their names as Men.

Another effect of the Great War was that the Elves came out of hiding and once more joined the world, then called the Four Lands.

For a thousand years after the Great Wars, these races struggled to survive. Then Galaphile, a wise man from the reemerging Elf race, gathered the greatest minds of the races at Paranor, thus bringing an end to the turmoil. The Elves are in fact not human mutants but instead Faerie creatures of a lineage older than humanity, though they have become mortal and are commonly mistaken for another human-derived race.

Despite the destruction of the old world, some elements survived. Among these were bits of the old sciences passed down by the Druids, some of them kept by Cogline. Other survivors included the Creepers, Antrax and its creations in Parkasia, and a few ruins of that age existed as well.

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