Over the last three years Brooks has written, well, let’s face it, a very tepid trilogy called The Defenders of Shannara. The tone was largely young adult and the scope of the story was vastly limited and unimaginative when compared to some of his earlier books. It felt like he was just trying to squeeze another trilogy out in a fantasy world that was already starting to become a little stale. All in all, it wasn’t the author at his best.
This, however, ushers in a return to the old Brooks, a Brooks who wrote vast fantasy novels with complex plots and interesting bad guys. He didn’t force themes into the writing, themes only used to make his writing seem more attractive to viewers of the television adaptation of The Elfstones of Shannara in a failed effort to keep up with modern times. He wrote decent books, entertaining books about magic and warring factions. Some of them may have seemed a little samey (and this book is no exception) but for his fans that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
People like to get lost in a good fantasy novel and they relish taking another journey to another realm, but Brooks has written (perhaps overwritten?) so many books in his world. I, for one, am truly glad to see it come to an end with this final series. I look forward to seeing what kind of ending he provides. Will it be open ended? Will we be left with the impression that this world could go on or will it be a real ending? A final line, a stop, a finish: a strong place to finally finish this story. I don’t think it will be. I think he’ll go with the former, but I’d like to see something dramatic happen by the end of this series.
It could go either way at the moment as The Four Lands face a new threat; it is something they haven’t quite seen before or perhaps something they no longer quite understand. It is a mysterious enemy with the ability to change its location allowing them to slaughter thousands with little resistance. Nobody knows what it is, and the only people that have a chance at stopping them (the Druids) suffer under weak leadership and division. The order has become corrupted, more concerned with acquiring power for personal profit rather than the protection of it.
The former Ard Rhys, a man called Drisker Arc, is being hunted by assassins. The enemy understand his power; he is the only one intelligent enough to fully perceive this threat, and the only one with the foresight to actually consider doing anything productive about it. His character is highly reminiscent of the druid Allanon (almost a regurgitated version of him really) but I am willing to overlook that here because this is coming to an end, an end it so sorely needs to reach before it loses all sense of worth. So this was a strong opening book, and if the narrative follows the plot line here rather than jumping around, as it did in The Defenders of Shannara, it could be a very strong series too.
Review by Sean Barrs
Owen from United Kingdom
First book review I've ever left (and I'm certainly no reading genius). This is partially why I've followed almost all of Terry Brooks offerings. He makes fantasy easier for the reader. To be concise, this novel weaves a fair few characters into the story with a number plot lines that are slightly more appealing than some of the more worn out threads of earlier editions. The characters seem more amibguous in nature (in a good way). I was often suspicious of them all even if they ultimately turned out to be honourable. The tempo was good when compared with the likes of Sword. If only on a practical level, airflight seems to have given the series the ability to switch direction geographically with greater ease lending quicker scene changes. When I finished I was left wondering "what will become of such and such a character". I didn't feel like it was yet another fantasy story being trawled over a trilogy (in this case there will be four books). I have felt this in the past. With Black Elfstone I feel like lots was covered and there's still plenty left to uncover. Just a small note, there is an air of sexuality/sexual mischief alluded to in a number of areas which I've never witnessed before with Terry. Nothing gratuitous but I'm sure you'll recognise it. An enjoyable read reminding me of why I like Terry's more reader friendly approach to fantasy. I never lust for Silmarillion like descriptions or back references so I'm particularly pleased when I'm not asked to wade through them. Hope you all enjoy
8.5/10 from 2 reviews