Straken (HIGH DRUID OF SHANNARA) Paperback – 2 May 2006
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Praise for Terry Brooks "A great storyteller, Terry Brooks creates rich epics filled with mystery, magic, and memorable characters. If you haven't read Terry Brooks, you haven't read fantasy."-Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon "Terry's place is at the head of the fantasy world." -Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass "From the Hardcover edition." Praise for Terry Brooks "A great storyteller, Terry Brooks creates rich epics filled with mystery, magic, and memorable characters. If you haven't read Terry Brooks, you haven't read fantasy."-Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon "Terry's place is at the head of the fantasy world." -Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass "From the Hardcover edition." Praise for Terry Brooks "A great storyteller, Terry Brooks creates rich epics filled with mystery, magic, and memorable characters. If you haven't read Terry Brooks, you haven't read fantasy."-Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon "Terry's place is at the head of the fantasy world." -Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass "From the Hardcover edition."
From the Inside Flap
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. And despite her devotion to the greater good as Ard Rhys--the High Druid of Paranor, Grianne still has bitter enemies.
Among the highest ranks of the Council she leads lurk those who cannot forget her reign of terror as the Ilse Witch, who covet her seat of power, and who will stop at nothing to see her deposed . . . or destroyed. Even Grianne's few allies--chief among them her trusted servant Tagwen--know of the plots against her. But they could never anticipate the sudden, ominous disappearance of the Ard Rhys, in the dead of night and without a trace. Now, barely a step ahead of the dark forces bent on stopping him, Tagwen joins Grianne's brave young nephew, Pen Ohmsford, and the wise, powerful elf Ahren Elessedil on a desperate and dangerous mission of search and rescue--to deliver the High Druid of Shannara from an unspeakable fate.
Expect no end of wonders, no shortage of adventure, exhilaration, suspense, and enchantment, as Terry Brooks demonstrates, once again, that there is no end to his magic of invention and mastery of storytelling.
"From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Sadly then, a great premise (the Druid order back to it's former glory and Grianne consigned to the Abyss by infighting druids) is turned into what can only be described as the most disappointing Brooks book i've ever read (i liked book one and even held up hope after book two that book three would finish up on a high). The ending is seriously rushed (i mean it all happens in about 30 pages whereas normally Brooks would take half a book to finish up!), nothing seems to get tied up (what happened to the Straken Lord?, Weka Dart just disappears). On top of this (Allanon would turn in his grave) the druid order is a joke. I mean they capture someone they escape, they capture someone they escape... repeat until finished. The Forbidding is about as scary as Shady Vale.... Brooks only need to look at his writing in Elf Queen of Shannara (Morrowindl) to construct a claustrophobic & scary environment. I mean where are all the demons anyway - there was 1000's upon 1000's in Elfstones now there only seems to be about 20! Bizarre explanations keep the plot moving along (i won't give them away but you will find yourself saying 'why don't they just do this' 'well that kinda makes sense in an illogical roundabout kinda way' ).
This is the first time i've felt strongly enough to write a bad review as I never thought i'd hear myself having something bad to say about Brooks' writing - but I only hope that if Brooks does return to the series that he has given it a great deal of thought and his heart is truly back in it. His thoughts are obviously elsewhere.... maybe on the next word and the void trilogy.
Finally, he is of course forgiven though for writing so many great books in his time. But if you are thinking of buying this series (even if you are a Brooks fan) then i would reconsider as it puts a slight tarnish on an otherwise brilliant 25 years of Shannara.
When we last left our heroes, Grianne Ohmsford, the High Druid (or "Ard Rhys") had been captured in the Forbidding (an alternate plane where the druids had imprisoned all of the demons of the world) by a demon with ambitions beyond the Forbidding. In fact, they were plans to destroy it and unleash the imprisoned demonic hordes on Shannara itself. Grianne's rival druids had imprisoned her there, ostensibly because of her evil past, but mostly because they are hungry for the power she wields. But they don't know about the demon's plans, and they are unwittingly helping him. Meanwhile, Pen Ohmsford, Grianne's nephew, has sacrificed the woman he loves and a part of his body in order to forge the Darkwand, a way into the Forbidding so he can rescue his aunt. Pen's parents have been captured by the druids and must escape themselves, while Pen's friends fight desperately to come to his aid. But even if Pen succeeds in freeing his aunt, he finds he must still face the demon that has escaped the Forbidding, before it destroys the only thing that stands in the way of waves of demonic invaders.
I have to say that Straken was certainly more interesting than Tanequil was. While the book contains the normal brooding of all of Brooks' characters, it's not as noticeable as it usually is, making for a much more engrossing book. Brooks avoids some of the predictable pitfalls, but he falls into others. The ending is telegraphed a mile away, as Brooks just can't seem to allow a tragic ending, especially where romance is concerned. With Grianne going on and on about how much she fears using her magic after some of her encounters in the Forbidding (where she had to unleash some of the magic she used to wield when she was a villain), you know how she'll end up. Granted, I didn't realize how Brooks would tie things together, but those are just the details. The overarching plot was very obvious.
That being said, the trip was mostly interesting. There's a good deal of action, and Brooks usually excels at those scenes. Some of it is a tad unbelievable (some characters go a very long time with almost mortal injuries that never seem to end up killing them), but it's well-done for the most part. The final confrontation between Grianne and her fellow druids is actually quite good, with just the right amount of power, skill, and luck involved. Two of the more interesting secondary characters, Kermadec and his brother (both Trolls loyal to Grianne) are heavily involved, and that makes for a riveting scene. In fact, the final fifty or so pages, making up the attack on the druid castle and the ultimate battle really gripped me.
Unfortunately, the book continues on from there for a bit, and gets dull and thoroughly superfluous again. The plot that's been hiding behind everything, of the demon wanting to destroy the gate to the Forbidding, is ended almost perfunctorily, with little of interest in it. I'd almost say it was an afterthought, if the characters hadn't been talking about it for two books already. It does give us a reason why Brooks shows so much of the war between the Elves, Dwarves, and Gnomes against the Federation, which seemed completely pointless throughout the last two books, but that doesn't help with the ending. Not only that, but again Brooks, who hasn't been afraid to kill characters before, thoroughly invalidates one of the more tragic and touching scenes he's written by bringing the characters back to life (oh, I'm sorry...I mean that they were never dead). I can say no more without spoilers, but you'll probably recognize it when you get there.
Up to this point, this review has been mostly a rant, and you must be thinking "four stars? How does he give it four stars?" There are some (unfortunately long) dull passages in Straken, but Brooks makes up for it by providing us with a lot of interesting characters, even if their actions don't seem to lead anywhere at times. I've always enjoyed Bed and Rue, Pen's parents, and they are on good display again here. They show determination, courage, and loyalty to each other that make them extremely interesting. They throw themselves into the action despite Bek's vow not to use his magic ever again, and Rue's horror when she discovers that Pen has magic similar to his father's is quickly set aside in order to continue the mission. Rue's love for Bek shows in how desperate she fights for what will turn out to be the rescue of a woman she has never really liked since she caused the deaths of a number of her companions all those years ago.
Add to these any number of minor characters, most of whom Brooks also characterizes very well, and you get one heck of an interesting read for the most part. The strains of the continuing Shannara saga are showing, and Brooks really needs the change that it seems is coming, because this series is running on fumes. Thankfully, some of those fumes are quite powerful in themselves, and make what should be a thoroughly pedestrian read a lot better than the sum of its parts.
The ending was predictable and I doubt that I will be rereading the book again any time soon and I was disapointed in the revelation that the Forbidding was little more than a mirror image of the world in general. Like others I had expected it to be wall to wall with blood hungry demons and yet most were strangely absent as was the Demon Lord who had such high plans for Grianne. The story had a lot of potential that I feel was not developed enough and like others I agree that it is perhaps time for Terry to move away from the Shannara series and concentrate on something else.
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