The Wishsong of Shannara

Well, I did it. I went back to Terry Brooks and read The Wishsong of Shannara. But I had a good excuse, really. The book I own is actually three books in one volume, and Wishsong was the last of the three. And it would have really bothered me to put the “book” back on my shelf without finishing it. So, I’m finally finished. Whew! Back on the shelf, Terry Brooks!

This book started much like the others. Allanon, the Druid, returns to seek help from an Ohmsford in some sort of quest that will save the world. This time, he needed help from Brin, Wil and Eretria’s daughter. Brin and her little brother Jair inherited the Elven magic in the form of what they call a “wishsong.” Brin can use to wishsong to actually alter the world, whether it’s to change the color of the leaves on a tree, or as she comes to learn later, to kill in order to protect herself. Jair can only use the wishsong to provide illusion, but not to actually alter reality.

So Allanon believes that Brin’s magic can guide her safely through the land and into the Maelmord, where she can find and destroy the evil book of power, The Ildatch, and finally rid the world of it. Jair is told to stay home. Of course, he does not, so he finds himself a member of a diverse “little company” traversing the land as well. He is given a mission by the King of the Silver River, and he must get to the Maelmord before Brin, or she will be lost forever.

Anyway, I’m not willing to rehash the entire book, especially since I didn’t enjoy it that much. Although it did have some good parts; I even forgot what I reading for just a few moments too, but in a good way. But if the groups of characters in the book were called the “little company” one more time, I think I would have thrown the book against the wall, (or just put it back on the shelf, as there would have been less chance of damage that way.)  But the book had a happy ending, even though a few characters died, including Allanon.

I’m glad I can move on now, especially since the nice people at Goodreads have sent me two free books to read. I should really get on with those.

The Elfstones of Shannara

It seems like it has been a long time since my last post. I have been so busy with work, and other things around the house, but I’ve still been reading when I can find a spare moment.

After giving The Sword of Shannara a break for a few months, I read the next and second book in the series, The Elfstones of Shannara. While I did enjoy this book slightly more than the first one, I still found something lacking. The storyline was fine, but I wanted more from the characters. I wanted them to make me believe they were real. I wanted more from the overall description of events, too. In short, I wanted more from the actual writing!

That being said….

This book focuses mostly on the Elves, who descended from powerful Fairies. Centuries ago, there was a battle between good and evil, and the Elves used their greates magic to lock away the evil demons behind a barrier, the Forbidding. At this time, they created a magical tree, the Ellcrys, to maintain the Forbidding. The Ellcrys was a beautiful tree, with silver bark and crimson leaves. However, she was more than a tree, she was a sentient being. Every year, she chose specific elves to act as her caretakers, called The Chosen. To be chosen was a great honor among the Elves. The most recent year, the Ellcrys chose all males except one, Amberle, the granddaughter of King Eventine Elessedil. There had not been a female Chosen in the last 500 years, and everyone, Amberle most of all, found this odd.

At the beginning of the book, one of the Chosen notices wilt on the Ellcrys. The Forbidding is failing as the Ellcrys is dying. In order to restore the Forbidding, the Ellcrys must give her seed to one of the Chosen, who then must carry to the seed to the place known as Safehold and bathe it in the Bloodfire. After the Forbidding began to crumble, some of the stronger demons were able to break through the barrier. They knew that the only hope for the tree to regain life lay with the Chosen, so they killed all of them. All except Amberle, who had forsaken her duties and disgraced her family and people by leaving. But now it appears that she may be the last hope.

Allanon once again makes an appearance, 50 years after Shea and Flick had their adventure with the Warlock Lord. He finds Shea’s grandson, Will, who is at Storlock training with the gnomes to be a healer. Shea had freely given the Elfstones to Will, thus also passing on the power to use them. After convincing Shea to come with him, the two travel to find Amberle, convincing her that she must undertake the task of ensuring the survival of the Ellcrys.

At this point, the story enters true epic fantasy mode. Will and Amberle travel across the land to collect the Ellcrys seed, then travel to the place called Safehold. The entire time, they are tracked by deadly demons and they meet many other interesting characters along the way. They succeed in their mission just in the nick of time, but only after many casualties of battle. Of course, Will and Amberle discover that they have “feelings” for each other along the way. And the kicker…

Amberle becomes the Ellcrys. That’s right. She turns into a tree. But the Elves and the rest of the world are now safe from the demons.

Anyway…I gave Terry Brooks another try. I liked this book better than the first in the series, but that’s really not saying much. Will I continue to read the series? Probably, but that’s due to my odd compulsion to finish what I start. We’ll see…

The Sword of Shannara

I love the fantasy genre, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the Sword of Truth, etc. However, usually fantasy involves a long epic tale, sometimes spanning for numerous books and thousands upon thousands of pages, not that I’m complaining. If a story is well-written and engaging, I love that it doesn’t end quickly. My only issue is trying to decide if I want to devote enough time, at the moment, to starting and finishing a series. Yes, I know that I don’t have to read the entire series basically back to back, but that’s just one of my compulsions. I have to finish what I start, (with a few notable exceptions, whose titles may not even make it to this blog because they were so horrific).

So, I embarked upon Terry Brooks, and read The Sword of Shannara.

It begins with two brothers, Flick and Shea, being visited by a mysterious stranger, Allanon. He tells them that Shea is the last living heir of Shannara, an Elven king, and as such, is the only one who can use the Sword of Shannara, the only weapon that can hope to stop the evil Warlock Lord who is trying to extend his empire to envelop the entire world. Allanon also warns them that they are in terrible danger, as emissaries of the Warlock Lord, great black monsters known as Skull Bearers, are already hunting for Shea. Spotting one later that evening, the two brothers flee for the kingdom of Leah, to seek the help of Shea’s friend, Menion, the Prince of Leah.

Allanon had told them where to meet him, so the three journey to meet at Anar, where a dwarf, two elves, a man, and Allanon join them. Together, they journey through ancient tombs, forbidden lands, and dangerous mountains and passes, only to finally be separated as each must individually determine what role he must play in this final war to save the world.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. I’ve read some reviews that declare it a “knock-off” of The Lord of the Rings, and while I can understand that point of view, the story does have merit. That being said, it was far from one of my favorite fantasy novels. I actually found parts of it a bit boring, perhaps because this was written early in the writer’s career. The typical epic fantasy summary still holds true: “A whiny person without much confidence must convince himself that he is the only one who can save the world or prevent some huge evilness from spreading, and then do so by lots of help from others and a lot of sheer luck.” Not that fitting into this mold is necessarily a bad thing. Like I said, I enjoy the fantasy genre.

While definitely a good read, The Sword of Shannara did leave me a bit disappointed and wanting more from the story. Perhaps the story will be redeemed when I read further in the series.