Most helpful critical review
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2013
I have read almost everything Brooks has written (the Star Wars Phantom Menace book is on the shelf but remains unread) and have enjoyed them for the most part, particularly the early works. Due to personal circumstances I haven't had the time to read for a while and was eager to read this book while on holiday.
What a disappointment. Within a few chapters I was reminded that I was less than impressed with his last book too.
The style is plodding, inconsistent, unengaging and rather lazy. I slogged through the book waiting and hoping for it to get better but apart from a couple of brief flashes of the old Brooks it never really did. The plot and "twists" are, for the most part, extremely predictable and those parts that are not come as no real surprise.
The characters are shallow and bland and there are obvious "Red Shirts" (a term used in Star Trek circles to refer to the often anonymous red-shirted security officers that tended to be killed quickly if they ever had the misfortune to be featured in an episode).
I never really felt for any of the characters and indeed started to get angry and frustrated with the main character. She is regularly in danger but keeps assuring herself that her "heightened Druid senses" will protect her. Needless to say she is attacked several times without these senses warning her, and even friends and colleagues appear "suddenly" or "out of nowhere" very close to her. However, never does she question the apparent failures of her "heightened senses" and insists on slipping away from those who want to protect her. In the end I felt that she deserved to get her backside kicked!
Another example of lazy and inconsistent writing is that at one point a character looks at an overcast sky and notes the position of the sun- how exactly?! If the sky is overcast then by definition the sun cannot be seen!
As has been noted by at least one previous reviewer, Brooks seems to be using some sort of generic Shannara story generator into which he inserts various names, races, generic plots and ideas and plot devices from previous books, turns the handle and hey presto, another Shannara book is produced.
I cannot see how the many reviewers who give this book a high rating can possibly do so, unless they are new to the genre or Brooks' books in particular. This novel is a pale imitation of his early work and is the second disappointment in a row from him. I am just about to start the next book in the trilogy and am hoping against hope that it returns to the quality of earlier ones. We shall see.
On a practical note- does any real person (as opposed to a computer spell-checker) actually proof-read books any more? There are a couple of glaring typos in my hardcover copy where the large capital letter at the beginning of a chapter is wrong! In chapter 17 for example, it should be a "K" for the start of Khyber Elessedil but is actually an "A"! Obviously computers cannot pick up mistakes of this kind, so you would think somebody would make a special point of checking these paragraph openings, but no. Lazy.