More than a quarter of a century after The Sword of Shannara carved out its place in the pantheon of great epic fantasy, the magic of Terry Brooks's New York Times bestselling saga burns as brightly as ever. Three complete series have chronicled the ever-unfolding history of Shannara. But more stories are still to be told-and new adventures have yet to be undertaken. Book One of High Druid of Shannara invites both the faithful longtime reader and the curious newcomer to take the first step on the next extraordinary quest. Twenty years have passed since Grianne Ohmsford denounced her former life as the dreaded Ilse Witch-saved by the love of her brother, the magic of the Sword of Shannara, and the destruction of her evil mentor, the Morgawr. Now, fulfilling the destiny predicted for her, she has established the Third Druid Council, and dedicated herself to its goals of peace, harmony among the races, and defense of the Four Lands. But the political intrigue, secret treachery, and sinister deeds that have haunted Druid history for generations continue to thrive.
Bestseller Brooks's first book in a new trilogy treads complacently along the well-worn path of its predecessors. Set 20 years after the conclusion (in 2002's Morgawr) of the three-volume Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, it introduces the next generation of Ohmsfords and Elessedils: Penderrin, airship-flying nephew of former Ilse Witch and now High Druid (or Ard Rhys) Grianne Ohmsford; and Khyber, the Elven Prince Ahren Elessedil's headstrong niece. Teenaged protagonists can be annoyingly clumsy, and these two are no exception. As they set out to rescue Grianne from her politically motivated imprisonment in a bleak parallel plane known only as the Forbidding, they manage to repeatedly draw the attention of their pursuers, fall inopportunely in love and even kill a member of their own party. That neither Pen nor Khyber has the mitigating talents or charm of earlier Shannara heroes leads to the inevitable question of why exactly Fate has decreed that they should be the ones to take on this quest in the first place; a hope of learning the answer, ironically, may be the most compelling reason to anticipate the sequels. While Pen's fear that his family's magic is "thinning out" may parallel real-world criticisms of the most recent Shannara tales, Brooks does know a lot about the proper care and feeding of golden geese. Jaded readers are likely to seek their thrills elsewhere, but fans of formula fantasy will be quite content with the smooth prose, vivid descriptions and comfortable pacing. (Sept. 1) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 31, 2004
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Excerpt from High Druid of Shannara: Jarka Ruus by Terry Brooks
She sat alone in her chambers, draped in twilight's shadows and evening's solitude, her thoughts darker than the night descending and heavier than the weight of all Paranor. She retired early these days, ostensibly to work but mostly to think, to ponder on the disappointment of today's failures and the bleakness of tomorrow's prospects. It was silent in the high tower, and the silence gave her a momentary respite from the struggle between herself and those she would lead. It lasted briefly, only so long as she remained secluded, but without its small daily comfort she sometimes thought she would have gone mad with despair.
She was no longer a girl, no longer even young, though she
retained her youthful looks, her pale translucent skin still unblemished
and unlined, her startling blue eyes clear, and her movements
steady and certain. When she looked in the mirror, which
she did infrequently now as then, she saw the girl she had been
twenty years earlier, as if aging had been miraculously stayed. But
while her body stayed young, her spirit grew old. Responsibility
aged her more quickly than time. Only the Druid Sleep, should
she avail herself of it, would stay the wearing of her heart, and she
would not choose that remedy anytime soon. She could not. She
was the Ard Rhys of the Third Druid Council, the High Druid of
Paranor, and while she remained in that office, sleep of any kind
was in short supply.
Her gaze drifted to the windows of her chamber, looking west
to where the sun was already gone behind the horizon, and the
light it cast skyward in the wake of its descent a dim glow beginning
to fail. She thought her own star was setting, as well, its
light fading, its time passing, its chances slipping away. She would
change that if she could, but she no longer believed she knew
She heard Tagwen before she saw him, his footfalls light and
cautious in the hallway beyond her open door, his concern for her
evident in the softness of his approach.
"Come, Tagwen," she called as he neared.