The Heritage of Shannara Seriesby Terry Brooks
Terry Brooks made a departure from his previous efforts when he wrote "The Heritage of Shannara," a second grouping of Shannara novels. Although Brooksí previous novels were all stand-alone books, these four books were meant to be a series (maybe originally a trilogy). Since he now has 1600 pages instead of 400 to tell the story, the plot is much broader, involving quite a bit more action than the previous stories. Although Brooks broadens his scope, he didnít fall into the "Robert Jordan trap" of creating an overly complex story that requires a glossary and frequent trips back to previous volumes to follow. The world of the four lands is primarily as it was in the first three Shannara novels. Brooks just has more time for character development and action sequences. The books form a solid, engrossing plot line. The characters in this series all have flaws and are plagued by self-doubts about their abilities. Wren doesnít feel she has any magic at all Ė just painted rocks made as symbols of the Elfstones that were long since lost. Par struggles to understand what the Wishsong can do. Walker Boh possesses the most tangible magic, but is uncertain whether he can employ it after his spirit is severely damaged in his initial attempt to fulfill his part of the quest. The reader ends up rooting for the main characters because they have human failings with which we can empathize.
I didnít know that Brooks had started a second series of Shannara novels. I just happened to see The Scions of Shannara in the bookstore one day. Since I loved the Shannara novels, I purchased Scions and ripped through it in one day. I immediately rushed out and bought the second book and finished it the following day. Of course, then I had to wait a year until the third book was published! That was the longest year of my life. But of course, it gave me time to reread the first and second volumes again. I had assumed that Brooks was writing a trilogy. Imagine my chagrin when I reached the end of The Elf Queen of Shannara and found I would be waiting another 12 months for the final volume. But it was worth the wait! You wonít be disappointed by this series.
Reviewed by: Alan
It is 300 years after the death of Allanon. Vast changes have come to the Four Lands. The elves have disappeared from the Westland and have not been seen for over 100 years. All of the Southland is in the control of the Federation, a militaristic government of men that rules with an iron fist. The dwarves are virtual slaves in their own kingdom, having been defeated in a genocidal war with the Federation. The Federation has outlawed the use of magic and those who practice it are hunted down and persecuted by the Seekers, the "secret police" of the Federation.
Par Ohmsford has inherited the power of the Wishsong. While his brother Coll recites the old legends, Par brings them to life with the Wishsong. However, there is evil afoot in the four lands. Magical creatures called Shadowen are tracking Par and Coll, apparently coveting París magic. Cogline rescues them from a Shadowen attack. Cogline tells them, as well as Wren and Walker Boh who are the other Shannara descendants, to go to the Hadeshorn. Allanon, the dead Druid, has a message for them.
At the Hadeshorn, the spirit of Allanon shows them glimpses of a terrible future in which the Shadowen have destroyed all life in the Four Lands. In order to prevent this catastrophe, Allanon instructs Par to recover the long lost Sword of Shannara. He tells Wren she must find the vanished elves and return them to the Four Lands. And finally, he charges Walker Boh with bringing back the Druids and their ancient stronghold of Paranor.
None of the Shannara heirs are enthusiastic about their charges nor do they have the faintest idea where to start. The remainder of Scions deals primarily with Par and Collís quest to find the missing sword. The story moves along briskly as the two are aided by Padishar Creel, descendant of the legendary Pannamon Creel. Padishar is the leader of a group of revolutionaries trying to resist the control of the Federation. Their search takes them into Tyrsis where the sword was last seen 200 years ago. They find the Shadowen and the head Seeker, Rimmer Dall, waiting for them. Par does manage to recover the sword, but he seems to have inadvertently killed Coll in the process!
Meanwhile, Walker Boh determines that he must recover the Black Elfstone to restore Paranor to the Four Lands. He consults the Grimpond, the ancient avatar that Brin Ohmsford had tricked into helping her, to learn its location, despite his feelings that the Grimpond is leading him into a trap. Walker is indeed trapped and appears to be dying at the end of this volume. This is not an auspicious start for the Shannara heirs in their quests.
Reviewed by: Alan
The King of the Silver River, a lord remaining from the time of faerie, has always assisted the Ohmsfords in their quests whenever he could. Sensing terrible danger in the four lands he sends forth his daughter, Quickening, to assist. She seeks out Walker Boh and heals him from the injuries he received in his attempt to recover the Black Elfstone. She then recruits Walker, Morgan Leah (heir to the kingdom of Leah) and Pe Ell (an assassin often employed by the Shadowen) to accompany her to the far north. She tells them that Uhl Belk, another faerie lord is using the Black Elfstone to subvert the land by turning it to stone. Her father feels that he is attempting to take over all of the four lands. She tells them that the magic that each one of them possesses will be necessary to defeat Uhl Belk. They, somewhat reluctantly, agree to accompany her.
They journey north to Uhl Belkís domain, which reminds me greatly of New York City! There they find a desolate land where they are hunted relentlessly at every turn by evil creatures created by Uhl Belk to protect his domain. While Uhl Belk possesses the Black Elfstone he is invincible. Yet they must find a way to take it away from him. Quickening possesses a great deal of magic, but claims she cannot use it while Uhl Belk holds the Elfstone. Somehow they must find a way to make Uhl Belk surrender the Elfstone.
Meanwhile, Wren discovers a clue to the whereabouts of the missing elves. She heads south for the shore of the blue divide, a vast ocean, to attempt to find what has become of them. But Garth, her companion and protector, has sensed that something is tracking them, although he is unable to find a trace of it. Elsewhere, Par is recovering his strength after recovering the sword in Varfleet. The book ends with Walker Boh apparently causing Paranor to reappear in the Four Lands. But something odd seems to have happened to himÖ
Reviewed by: Alan
Wren and her protector Garth find the caves of the Rocs as it was described to them. They light a signal fire and wait. The Shadowen that has been tracking them shows itself and tries to kill them. The painted fake Elfstones that Wren carries as a good luck charm reveal themselves to be the real Elfstones (that the Ohmsfords had used hundreds of years before) and she defeats the Shadowen with their magic.
Tiger Ty, an elven wing rider appears flying astride a giant Roc. He tells Wren that the elves migrated out to sea to an island called Morrowindl. Unfortunately, the island is now the site of an active volcano and populated by strange demon-like creatures. The elves may have been wiped out. Tiger Ty cannot be sure. Wren talks Tiger Ty into taking her and Garth to Morrowindl. He drops them on the beach and gives them directions to where the elven capital used to be. He agrees to look for them once a week for 7 weeks on the beach if they make it back.
Wren and Garth must now fight their way through hordes of demons and natural barriers to discover if the elves are still hiding out in their city in the center of the island. Suffice to say their journey in and out of the island is extremely exciting and, yes, the elves are finally returned to the Westland. I wonít say anymore for fear of giving away the plot. This is an excellent, gripping volume that you wonít be able to put down.
The book also follows the progress of Walker Boh in attempting to understand what has happened to him when he used the Black Elfstone to restore Paranor. He must come to grips with his own doubts and fears about restoring the Druids to the Four Lands. He finally fulfills Allanonís charge but at what cost to himself?
Reviewed by: Alan
Allanonís charges have all been fulfilled. The elves have been returned to the Four Lands. The Sword of Shannara has been recovered. And Paranor and the Druids have been returned to the world of men. But now what needs to be done to defeat the Shadowen?
Rimmer Dall does not wait for the Shannara heirs to figure out what to do. He decides to attempt to subvert each one of them before they can figure out how to move against him. He lets Coll escape but wearing an evil cloak that will force Coll to seek out Par and destroy him. He has the Federation raise an immense army of men, led by Shadowen and supported by creepers (creatures of black magic) and launches an attack against the elves. Then, in the best sequence of this book, he sends the four horseman of the apocalypse to Paranor to trap (and possibly kill) Walker Boh.
The Shannara heirs must use all their wits to escape the traps that Rimmer Dall has set and to combine their magic to achieve the ultimate defeat of the Shadowen. The book comes to an inventive conclusion and is a marvelous capstone to a very creative series of novels. According to rumors, Brooks is considering writing two more Shannara novels. I can hardly wait!
Reviewed by: Alan
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