Seems alright. Inoffensive, at least. The trilogy (Wards of Faerie (REVIEW), Bloodfire Quest) as a whole has a nice continuous look, including the screaming red I’m-not-a-sticker sticker. Still, we all know it’s the big, juicy name of the author that will sell these books, not the cover. In all, I’d say it’s a wash with the US cover.
Posts Tagged: The Dark Legacy of Shannara
In recent years, I’ve reviewed several novels by Terry Brooks, most of which I walked away from with disappointment and uncomfortable acceptance. Slowly, with each new release, I was beginning to understand that Brooks, an idol of my adolesence, just wasn’t the same author I grew up with. This isn’t a comment on his skill, or his prose ability, necessarily, but rather an observation about the stories he now chooses to tell. His early novels were doorstops and told a complete story arc from beginning to end. After his third novel, however, he began to split these novels into ‘trilogies,’ and release them on a yearly basis. There’s little less satisfying than picking up a new book from a favourite author and being left hanging, asked to wait politely for a year and then pony up another $25 to continue with the fun. Whether it was marketing malfeasance on the part of his publisher, or a conscious decision by Brooks, excitement was slowly replaced by… not apathy, exactly, but controlled optimism. Brooks was on a treadmill.
Then I read Wards of Faerie (REVIEW), the first volume in his The Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy, and, like the clouds parting over the Battle of Pelennor Fields, I was suddenly heartened and reminded of why I first fell in love with Brooks’ novels as a teenager. Continue reading
Another day, another piece of Terry Brooks cover art. Even I’m starting to get tired of posting it! Not much to say; fits in well with the other volumes in the trilogy, Wards of Faerie (REVIEW) and Bloodfire Quest.
It’s a nice new direction for Terry Brooks, and an improvement on his North American covers, even though I like the new ones well enough, but it won’t blow anyone out of the water. And, man, that big red circle is an eyesore.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a moderator at the Official Terry Brooks Forums, a role which I take seriously and indicates my level of fandom for Brooks, but which has not coloured the following review.
In my review of Bearers of the Black Staff, the first volume of Brooks’ The Legends of Shannara duology, his most recent published work, I wrote:
[T]he real meat of Bearers of the Black Staff is in the familiar elements that begin to rear their heads. The Trolls, a race that’s played a maligned roll in many of Brooks other novels, are the stars of the show here, and much of their history is revealed to the reader, for the first time in the series. Their origin story, involving characters from The Genesis of Shannara is heavy-handed and would have been better left hinted at, but this is something Brooks fans should be used to by now. Astute readers will also begin piecing together hints of the Knights of the Word and their eventual transformation into the Druids that manipulate the world in later Shannara novels.
Ultimately, though, these familiar elements are also the novel’s (and Brooks’) weakest link. Terry Brooks has a vocabulary that he’s built up through his career. Not a vocabulary in the sense that you’d find it in a dictionary (though his prose isn’t exactly a bastion of variety, it’s serviceable and easy to read), but rather in elements, archetypes and plot devices that he uses to construct his stories. There’s next to nothing in Bearers of the Black Staff that we haven’t seen before in any of Brooks’ previous novel.
This dissatisfaction extended into the sequel, The Measure of Magic, and grew, leaving me with a bitter taste in my mouth as a longtime Shannara fan. I didn’t review The Measure of Magic, for fear of just repeating the exact same points I made in the first, with only a small measure of irony. Fast forward a year and I approached the release of Wards of Faerie with no little amount of trepidation. Since Brooks concluded The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara 10 years ago, with the exception of Armageddon’s Children, I felt disappointment with each of his novels, from mild to severe. Where was the Brooks I fell in love with as a boy, first discovering Fantasy? Was he gone? Or was I simply grown up, better read and unable to appreciate the type of fiction that Brooks writes? Continue reading