Book 1 in “The Dark Legacy of Shannara”; Terry Brooks; Del Ray, New York, NY, 2012
Just the fact that Terry Brooks writes again is enough to send me to the nearest bookstore and spend the bucks.
I picked up my first Shannara book at the age of fifteen and have never looked back. From the hollowed shelves of my library, every book Terry Brooks has ever written, looks out on the vicissitudes of my life, and offers distant lands and heroic individuals who inspire, and like the scented waters of Calgon…take me away.
But not this time, and not that far.
Only twice (not counting his autobiographical, “Sometimes the Magic Works”)) have I seen Brooks deviate from the paths of Ohmsford, Elessedil or Paranor; “The Magic Kingdom”, and “The Void and the Word”. So I don’t know why, but I was hoping that this might be number three.
Don’t misunderstand; I love the sagas of Wishsongs, Elfstones and Druidic orders. But after more than forty years I was hoping that, “Wards of Faerie” might offer a significant enough departure from the land of Shannara (like he did with “The Void and the Word” and “Genesis of Shannara”) that I wouldn’t feel like I was stepping back into the same dream, with the same players, over and over again.
Another thing I was disappointed with was that I felt like Terry spent a lot less time developing his characters and story. Now I know that in the past, he tended to spend an inordinately long time on both, but by the time you finished another Shannara series, you felt like you had an intimate knowledge of characters like; Walker Boa, Shea Ohmsford, Grianne Ohmsford, Allanon, Wren Elessedil and more. Just as J. R. R. Tolkien pioneered Middle Earth, I always felt like Terry Brooks pioneered the Four Lands.
But in this newest Shannara series, “The Dark Legacy of Shannara” I felt as though Brooks was in a rush to get somewhere, and I had to spend 366 pages with strangers.
Almost like speed dating; five minutes with strangers, expecting to find the love of your life; great expectations, without any of the calories.
Yet for all that, I still love Brooks and will continue to aspire to model my own writing after his. Few authors today are able, or willing, to tell a story without embellishing it with profanity, depravity, or pornographic sex.
In every book he’s written, the author demonstrates moral integrity, while till delivering excitement, fantasy, and adventure. Like his predecessor Tolkien, Brooks provides content that is ageless, classic, and which any parent, at any time, will never have to worry about the wisdom of letting children under the age of ten read.
So even though I was disappointed by the journey of yet another Elessedil, Leah, and Ohmsford looking for lost Elfstones, I am not disappointed in the author’s commitment to leaving us a legacy of quality writing that I have every intention of passing on to other generations of dreamers, and alien life forms.
From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer,