Posts Tagged: Shannara

Shannara Family TreeShannaraFamilyTree-1ShannaraFamilyTree-3ShannaraFamilyTree-2

One of the most unique aspects of Terry Brooks’ Shannara series is its unerring dedication to following the Ohmsford and Leah family lines as each new generation finds trouble for themselves in the Four Lands (and beyond, in some cases.) Since I first discovered Brooks, the Ohmsfords and the Leahs have held a special place in my heart, and the hearts of many fantasy readers like me. So, it makes perfect sense that Orbit Books, Brooks’ UK publisher, would create such a loving family tree to illustrate the labyrinthine connections between the two families.

You find a high resolution (like, really high resolution) version of the family tree on Orbit’s Facebook page, where you can also enter to win a gorgeous print by voting for your favourite Shannara generation. Fun stuff, great series.

Chew Manga by Jessica Dinh

Chew Manga by Jessica Dinh

For the past year or so, Terry Brooks has been teasing his fans with hints of a conclusion to his long-running Shannara series. Since some of its earliest volumes, the Shannara series has explored the results of growing science in a world once dominated by magic. Brooks has mentioned several times now that within the next several years he will be writing a trilogy that will tie-up this ongoing tug o’ war, calling the trilogy and “end” for Shannara. But, would Brooks, and his publishers, really be willing to step away from the long-standing (and reliable revenue generating) series? The answer, it appears, is no.

The the most recent instalment of “Ask Terry,” a monthly feature on Brooks’ website where the author answer fan questions, Gina Miller asked, “When I finished Measure of the Magic, it felt incomplete. We left everyone divided and leaderless, and it was an incomplete transition to the Shannara world. Will there be a bridge to make the transition complete?”

To which Brooks replied:

Yes, there will be a finish to the set. Just not for awhile. Probably not for as along as five years. I intend to write the end of the Shannara series first, then go back to the pre-history. Obviously, if I intend to keep my promise to all of you, I have to write from Measure up to the First Council of Druids. Let’s hope I live that long.

Colour me unsurprised (and a happy Shannara fan). While Shannara might receive a trilogy that concludes the war between science and magic, there are many more stories to tell in the world, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Brooks turning to more standalone novels, similar to his upcoming novel, The High Druid’s Blade, set at various points along Shannara‘s lengthy timeline.

In addition to these upcoming novels, Brooks has also said that he has a new book (or series) planned that is entirely unrelated to his previous works.

The Darkling Child by Terry Brooks

Terry Brooks’ next novel, The High Druid’s Blade, isn’t even out yet, but the cover for the follow-up novel, The Darkling Child, is already loosed on the world. (See what I did there? It’s like a demon from the Forbidding.) And, it’s just as pretty as the previous cover. I really like the rough, impressionistic quality of the painting they’ve used.

The Darkling Child is the second in The Defenders of Shannara, a loose trilogy of standalone Shannara novels that follow the events of Witch Wraith, Brooks’ most recently published novel. The High Druid’s Blade and The Darkling Child will be released in 2014.

The High Druid's Blade Cover ArtIn recent years, Brooks has seen several revisions to the look and feel of his novels, even switching styles midway through a series because the first volume didn’t sell as well as expected (Armageddon’s Children to The Elves of Cintra). His most recent trilogy, The Dark Heritage of Shannara, used a bold, emblematic approach that I found quite appealing, so it’s interesting to see Del Rey shifting focus again to this new style. On first glance, I think it’s great all around. The typography and composition of the various cover elements is good, and the illustration is striking. It is sort of weird that the series title is larger than the book’s title and the two aren’t distinguished from one another, but that’s a small complaint. It’s funny, and somewhat telling, to see Terry Brooks all-of-a-sudden mimicing the look of Brent Weeks’ novels.

And I say all this despite the hooded man striking again. Even the big guys can’t get away from him. Who’s his agent, anyway?

Released alongside the cover is the first official blurb from the novel:

Paxon Leah never thought of the old family sword hanging above his living room hearth as anything other than an intriguing ornament—until his sister is kidnapped by a sorceror. Following the dark mage with nothing but this piece of steel to protect him, Paxon stumbles into a plot to remake the world . . . and accidentally unlocks the powers of the ancient blade.

In the most recent edition of ‘Ask Terry’ (a monthly feature where Brooks answers fan questions), Brooks revealed specifics about the plot that, when paired alongside this official description, paint a fairly clear image of the books’ plot:

The High Druid’s Blade is a stand-alone story, complete unto itself. But it is linked by a handful of common characters to two more stand-alones that will immediately follow. The principle link is complex and very dangerous sorcerer named Arcannen and a shared history of magic with Leahs and Ohmsfords. It will tie up a few loose ends from Witch Wraith, and it will further expand the growing conflict between magic and science. For the first time, the Druids and the Federation are mostly allies. The title to the book refers to a position created by the Ard Rhys of the Fourth Druid Order for a Druid protector.

In addition, Brooks’ official website reveals that The High Druid’s Blade, “features a Leah rather than an Ohmsford. It takes place about 100 years after the events of Witch Wraith. And it takes place largely in the Southland.”

Putting two-and-two together, it doesn’t take much to figure out that young Paxon is wielding the mythic Sword of Leah, imbued with the power of the druid’s, and likely fills the position referred to in Brooks’ answer. The book has been described to me as more character-focussed, with only two point-of-view characters (against Brooks more recent novels, most of which contained several POV characters), and less complex than usually expected.

I’m looking forward to this novel tremendously. After a few years of disappointment, Brooks had me grinning with his latest trilogy, which, if you ask me, is the best thing he’s written in a decade. Seriously, it’s that good.

Witch Wraith by Terry Brooks

Publisher: Del Rey - Pages: 432 - Buy: Book/eBook
Witch Wraith by Terry Brooks

To begin this review of Witch Wraith I feel like I must dig into my past as not only a Terry Brooks fan, but also as a fan of Fantasy fiction, because the two are so inextricably intertwined that it is impossible to discuss one part of my fandom without crossing over into the other. It is not unusual for a Fantasy fan to cite Tolkien as the genesis of their fandom, as he certainly was for me, but it was ultimately Brooks, and then R.A. Salvatore, that cemented my love and created of it a lifelong obsession.

I first discovered Brooks after devouring The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings during my early adolescence. Eager, no, desperate for more Fantasy, I read any book my mom, the requisite Fantasy fan in my life, put in my hands. The most impressionable of these was Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara. It’s a novel that now, 35+ years after its first release, fights against its own beginnings as a Tolkien-inspired Fantasy that was crafted by its author and legendary editor Lester Del Rey to provide life and wind to the post-Tolkien doldrums that the genre fell into during the seventies. Where Stephen R. Donaldson, who published alongside Brooks, and was also edited by Lester Del Rey, chose to subvert Tolkien’s methods and themes, challenging the idea that Fantasy is myth and exploring its escapist nature — by casting a bitter adult, skeptical of the existence of the Fantasy world even as he walks through it — Brooks chose to emulate Tolkien by casting two plucky youths, a mysterious mentor, a world to save, and a keenness for adventure. Both stories feature a dark lord, but the their defeats come at the end of roads as different as those travelled by Samwise Gamgee and Meriadoc Brandybuck. Read More »