Twenty years ago, Terry Brooks turned fantasy fiction on its head with The Sword of Shannara, the first fantasy novel to make the mainstream bestseller lists, and the first in an unbroken string of thirteen bestselling books. Now, in Running with the Demon, Brooks does nothing less than revitalize fantasy fiction again, inventing the complex and powerful new mythos of the Word and the Void, good versus evil still, but played out in the theater-in-the-round of the "real world" of our present.
On the hottest Fourth of July weekend in decades, two men have come to Hopewell, Illinois, site of a lengthy, bitter steel strike. One is a demon, dark servant of the Void, who will use the anger and frustration of the community to attain a terrible secret goal. The other is John Ross, a Knight of the Word, a man who, while he sleeps, lives in the hell the world will become if he fails to change its course on waking. Ross has been given the ability to see the future. But does he have the power to change it?
At stake is the soul of a fourteen-year-old girl mysteriously linked to both men. And the lives of the people of Hopewell. And the future of the country. This Fourth of July, while friends and families picnic in Sinnissippi Park and fireworks explode in celebration of freedom and independence, the fate of Humanity will be decided . . .
A novel that weaves together family drama, fading innocence, cataclysm, and enlightenment, Running with the Demon will forever change the way you think about the fantasy novel. As believable as it is imaginative, as wondrous as it is frightening, it is a rich, exquisitely-written tale to be savored long after the last page is turned.
From the Hardcover edition.
The genius of Brooks lies in his inspired joining of different worlds in one intricate tale. Here, for instance, are teen romance, satanic horror, elfin fantasy and Native American mythology, among other elements. Nest Freemark, a 14-year-old in an Illinois factory town, possesses magic powers whose precise nature is a mystery, as is the reason for her mother's suicide. Nest's grandmother, a dreary alcoholic since her daughter's death, guides Nest in using the magic but keeps many secrets, including the origin of the strange spirit-beast "Wraith," who protects Nest from the "feeders"?spirits who live on fear and hatred. Nest has a charmingly grouchy elfin partner, "Pick," with whom she tends the spiritual balance of the land. In the midst of Nest's adolescent awakening, a demon comes to town. He is an insidious presence who incites deadly violence and unleashes terrible malevolences from the land itself. John Ross, a "Knight of the Word," arrives to stop him, to protect Nest and to prevent the grim future he sees in his dreams. Dramatically, Ross's character is a confusion: his much-touted presence ends up making no difference at all?Nest herself turns the last trick. Still, Brooks's pacing is fabulous, and he manages to surprise and yet to maintain a feeling of inevitability. The last third of the book is a breathtaking run of near-catastrophes and revelations. As his first novel to be set in the modern world, this volume represents a significant development for Brooks; but his fans should embrace it as eagerly as they have The Sword of Shannara and his many other bestsellers. 250,000 first printing. (Sept.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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May 27, 1998
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Excerpt from Running with the Demon by Terry Brooks
His voice cut through the cottony layers of her sleep with the sharpness of a cat's claw. Her head jerked off the pillow and her sleep-fogged eyes snapped open.
"Wake up, girl!" The sylvan's voice squeaked with urgency. "The feeders are at it again! I need you!"
Nest Freemark pushed the sheet away and forced herself into an upright position, legs dangling off the side of the bed. The night air was hot and sticky in spite of the efforts of the big floor fan that sat just inside her doorway. She rubbed at her eyes to clear them and swallowed against the dryness in her throat. Outside, she could hear the steady buzz of the locusts in the trees.
"Who is it this time?" she asked, yawning.
"The little Scott girl."
"Bennett?" Oh, God! She was fully awake now. "What happened?"
Pick was standing on the window ledge just outside the screen, silhouetted in the moonlight. He might be only six inches tall from the tips of his twiggy feet to the peak of his leafy head, but she could read the disgust in his gnarled wooden features as clearly as if he were six feet.
"The mother's out with her worthless boyfriend again, shutting down bars. That boy you fancy, young Jared, was left in charge of the other kids, but he had one of his attacks. Bennett was still up--you know how she is when her mother's not there, though goodness knows why. She became scared and wandered off. By the time the boy recovered, she was gone. Now the feeders have her. Do you need this in writing or are you going to get dressed and come help?"
Nest jumped out of the bed without answering, slipped off her nightshirt, and pulled on her Grunge Lives T-shirt, running shorts, socks, and tennis shoes. Her face peeked out at her from the dresser mirror: roundish with a wide forehead and broad cheekbones, pug nose with a scattering of freckles, green eyes that tended to squint, a mouth that quirked upward at the corners as if to suggest perpetual amusement, and a complexion that was starting to break out. Passably attractive, but no stunner. Pick was pacing back and forth on the sill. He looked like twigs and leaves bound together into a child's tiny stick man. His hands were making nervous gestures, the same ones they always made when he was agitated--pulling at his silky moss beard and slapping at his bark-encrusted thighs. He couldn't help himself. He was like one of those cartoon characters that charges around running into walls. He claimed he was a hundred and fifty, but for being as old as he was, it didn't seem he had learned very much about staying
She arranged a few pillows under the sheet to give the impression that she was still in the bed, sleeping. The ruse would work if no one looked too closely. She glanced at the clock. It was two in the morning, but her grandparents no longer slept soundly and were apt to be up at all hours of the night, poking about. She glanced at the open door and sighed. There was no help for it.
She nudged the screen through the window and climbed out after it. Her bedroom was on the first floor, so slipping away unnoticed was easy. In the summer anyway, she amended, when it was warm and the windows were all open. In the winter, she had to find her coat and go down the hallway and out the back door, which was a bit more chancy. But she had gotten pretty good at it.
"Where is she?" she asked Pick, holding out her hand, palm up, so he could step into it.
"Headed for the cliffs, last I saw." He moved off the sill gingerly. "Daniel's tracking her, but we'd better hurry."