February 28, 2011

February 2011

I've read 11 books in February.  My page count for the month is 4493.

1. The Elf Queen of Shannara by Terry Brooks (5/5)
2. The Talismans of Shannara by Terry Brooks (3/5)
3. First King of Shannara by Terry Brooks (4/5)
4. Running With the Demon by Terry Brooks (3/5)
5. A Knight of the Word by Terry Brooks (4/5)
6. Angel Fire East by Terry Brooks (5/5)
7. Ilse Witch by Terry Brooks (3/5)
8. Antrax by Terry Brooks (5/5)
9. Morgawr by Terry Brooks (4/5)
10. Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek (4/5)
11. Jarka Ruus by Terry Brooks (4/5)

Of these, 10 were Fantasy and 1 was Fiction.  I really do think Fantasy (even above SF) is my true love when it comes to reading.

There was one book I didn't like enough to complete, Heat Wave by Richard Castle.

This month, like January, I think I picked books I enjoyed reading for the most part.  All of these came off my shelves.

Including books I decided not to read, my To Be Read Pile now stands at 646, which means I reduced it by 7 this month.  Considering I did buy some books and the fact that quite a few wish list books came to me from PaperbackSwap, I don't think I've done too badly.

Favorite book for the month:  Angel Fire East by Terry Brooks (5/5)

February 27, 2011

Jarka Ruus by Terry Brooks

Title:  Jarka Ruus
Author:  Terry Brooks
Format:  PB
Pages:  390
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Del Rey, 2004
ISBN-13:  978-0345435767
Series:  Shannara, Book 15

Favorite Quote:  Become who you were meant to be, Ilse Witch.  Your magic can make you powerful, even here.  Your skills can give you domination.  Use both.  Wield them as weapons and destroy any who challenge you.  If not, you will be destroyed, in turn.

Synopsis (Amazon):  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.

Review:  After taking a very short break, I've continued on with the Shannara series.  I couldn't leave it alone without finding out what happened, which says something positive about the stories themselves.  This novel is quite good.  As only twenty years have passed since the last novel ended, many of the characters I enjoyed are in this novel as well.  Ahren dies during the story, which was unexpected and sad.  His niece, Khyber, is a nice addition to the story.  But, my favorite character by far is Cinnaminson, the blind daughter of a Rover airship captain.  Her name may be pretty awful, but she has a story I hope to learn more of in the next book.

All in all, a good, fast read.  With only 5 more Shannara books left to read, I'm sure I'll finish this series quickly if they are all this good.

Rating:  4 / 5

February 26, 2011

Heat Wave by Richard Castle

Title:  Heat Wave
Author:  Richard Castle
Format:  PB
Pages:  40 of 216
Genre:  Thriller
Publisher:  Hyperion, 2010
ISBN-13:  978-1401310400
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  N/A

Synopsis (Amazon):  A New York real estate tycoon plunges to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. A trophy wife with a past survives a narrow escape from a brazen attack. Mobsters and moguls with no shortage of reasons to kill trot out their alibis. And then, in the suffocating grip of a record heat wave, comes another shocking murder and a sharp turn in a tense journey into the dirty little secrets of the wealthy. Secrets that prove to be fatal. Secrets that lay hidden in the dark until one NYPD detective shines a light.

Mystery sensation Richard Castle, blockbuster author of the wildly best-selling Derrick Storm novels, introduces his newest character, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, professional, Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City's top homicide squads. She's hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York's Finest. PulitzerPrize-winning Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. His wise-cracking and meddling aren't her only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of the murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between them. The one called heat.

Review:  I wanted one more easy-to-read book before thinking about tackling the next novel in the Shannara series.  This book may be the most poorly written, dry, and boring thriller I've ever read.  Furthermore, it's almost illegible due to the teeny, tiny font size chosen during printing.

I knew it was a spin-off novel from the TV show 'Castle', which I love, but I'd hoped that the quality of the novel would not suffer because of being written for this purpose.  Nathan Fillion, the actor who plays Richard Castle, obviously didn't write this book.  I'd hoped that one of the authors who had a cameo in the show did.  I now believe it can't possibly have even been written by a real author.  If it was, they should be ashamed.

The only mildly entertaining portion was the last few pages which contained the 'interview with the author' and that would only be enjoyable to someone who watches the TV show and loves the character Richard Castle.  I cannot understand how it got 4 stars on Amazon.  I simply couldn't finish it.  

Rating:  0 / 5

Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek

Title:  Tomato Girl
Author:  Jayne Pupek
Format:  HC
Pages:  298
Genre:  Fiction
Publisher:  Algonquin, 2008
ISBN-13:  978-1565124721
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  I'm the girl they found standing on the table.  The girl who traced the cracks in the wall with her mother's blood.

Synopsis (Amazon):  For eleven-year-old Ellie Sanders, her father has always been the rock that she could cling to when her mother's emotional troubles became too frightening. But when he comes under the thrall of the pretty teenager who raises vegetables and tomatoes for sale at the general store that he runs, Ellie sees her security slowly slipping away. Now she must be witness and warden to her mother's gradual slide into madness.

Told from Ellie's point of view, Tomato Girl takes the reader into the soul of a terrified young girl clinging desperately to childhood while being forced into adulthood years before she is ready. To save herself, she creates a secret world, a place in which her mother gets well, her father returns to being the man he was, and the Tomato Girl is banished forever.

Review:  I decided a change of pace was in order.  And, I certainly found one.  This book is disturbing, shocking, and heart-wrenching.  To watch Ellie struggle to live the shadowy, terrifying life she's forced to live because of the disappearance of her father is almost too difficult to bear.  Her mother has always been disturbed, but after her husband's leave taking, she turns completely insane.  Towards the end, as the facade of normalcy begins to completely falter, I almost wished the book to be over and done with.  Sharing in Ellie's nightmare existence was almost too much for me.  I wish the book had told whether Ellie ever came to terms with her childhood and whether she was able to lead any kind of normal life, although the suggestion at the very end is that she is about to get the help she needs, so one is left hoping.

This is not my usual choice of reading material, but I had heard it was an incredible story, a book that wouldn't soon be forgotten.  That is certainly true.  I'm just not certain I want to remember Baby Tom, Jellybean, and all the other awful, sad details, but I have a suspicion I won't ever forget Ellie's tragic tale.

Rating:  4 / 5

Morgawr by Terry Brooks

Title:  Morgawr
Author:  Terry Brooks
Format:  PB
Pages:  414
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Del Rey, 2003
ISBN-13:  978-0345435750
Series:  Shannara, Book 14

Favorite Quote:  The dark figure crossed the surface of the lake to where Walker lay and reached for him.  His hand lifted automatically in response.  Allanon's dark countenance stared down, penetrating eyes fixing on him.  There was approval in those eyes.  There was a promise of peace. Walker smiled.

Synopsis (Amazon):  The quest at last draws to its climactic conclusion, as the forces of good and evil vying against each other to possess an ancient magic race towards an explosive clash—and whatever fate awaits the victor . . . and the vanquished. Harrowing confrontations with the merciless Ilse Witch and the monstrous Antrax have already taken their toll on the intrepid heroes of the Four Lands. But their darkest adversary now snaps at their heels, in the form of the Morgawr—master of the Ilse Witch, feeder upon the souls of his enemies, and centuries-old sorcerer of unimaginable might.

With a fleet of airships and a crew of walking dead men at his command, the Morgawr is in relentless pursuit of the Jerle Shannara and the crew that mans her. For the Morgawr, the goal is two fold: to find and control the fabled ancient books of magic, and to destroy the dark disciple who betrayed him—the Ilse Witch. But the Ilse Witch is already a prisoner . . . of herself. Exposed to the awesome power of the Sword of Shannara, and forced to confront the truth of her horrifying deeds, she has fled deep into her own mind. Now at the mercy of those who seek vengeance against her, her only protector is her long-lost brother, Bek Ohmsford, who is determined to redeem his beloved sister . . . and deliver her to the destiny predicted for her by the Druid Walker Boh.

Review:  This was a very satisfying book.  The Morgawr was another fine villain who, while he did not quite fill the large shoes of Antrax, was so vile and evil that I shuddered each time he entered a scene and I was quite relieved when he was defeated.  While some of my favorite characters died trying to complete this dangerous quest and the rest were changed by the death and destruction they witnessed, I still found I cared about them at the end.  In fact, I was sorry to see the end come.

A new Druid has perhaps arisen from the ashes of this seemingly failed quest and her story is documented in the next trilogy.  I really hate putting away a series before I'm done with it, but I still feel that I might be better served taking a break.  At this writing, I am undecided what to do.  A visit to my bookshelves is in order, to see if something else strikes my immediate fancy or if I will continue with the remainder of this series.

Rating:  4 / 5

February 23, 2011

Antrax by Terry Brooks

Title:  Antrax
Author:  Terry Brooks
Format:  PB
Pages:  404
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Del Rey, 2002
ISBN-13:  978-0345397676
Series:  Shannara, Book 13

Favorite Quote:  Grianne Ohmsford was six years old on the last day of her childhood.

Synopsis (Amazon):  Now in Antrax, as the crew aboard the airship Jerle Shannara is attacked by evil forces, the Druid’s protégé Bek Rowe and his companions are pursued by the mysterious Ilse Witch. Meanwhile, Boh is alone, caught in a dark maze beneath the ruined city of Castledown, stalked by a hungry, unseen enemy.

For there is something alive in Castledown. Something not human. Something old beyond reckoning that covets the magic of Druids, elves, even the Ilse Witch. Something that hunts men for its own designs: Antrax. It is a spirit that commands ancient technologies and mechanical monsters, feeds off enchantment, and traps the souls of men.

With the Jerle Shannara under siege and Antrax threatening the bold and unwary, the Ilse Witch finds herself face-to-face with a boy who claims to be the brother she last saw as an infant. Now a young man, Bek wields the magic of the wishsong and carries the Sword of Shannara upon his back. Unsure whether to trust Bek or to slay him, the Ilse Witch takes him prisoner. One has come pursuing truth, the other revenge. Yet both seek Walker Boh–with the fate of the Four Lands hanging in the balance.

Review:  How is it that, in this series, it's always one book out of each trilogy that just is so much better than the rest?  This book is great, much better than the last one.  It's stories like this one that keep me reading this series, even in the face of mediocre books.  I hope the final book of this trilogy does this one justice.  Finally, I met some really new and exciting characters:  the half-shape-shifter, half-human Truls Rohk; Ahren, the younger brother of the Elf King; the Ilse Witch, Grianne.

Castledown is obviously some kind of governmental or military installation, where the people of our time tried to keep the knowledge of our species safe.  Unfortunately, after so many thousands of years, the computer security system, Antrax, has gone quite insane.  And he makes for a great bad guy.  It's an old theme, but told in an entirely new way.

The moment that shocked me most and made me sadder than I expected was the loss of the Druid, Walker.  As much as I've complained about the reappearance of druids, I'm hoping this one will reappear.  If the next book is even close to being this good, my plans to take a break from this series may be up for reevaluation.

Rating:  5 / 5

February 20, 2011

Ilse Witch by Terry Brooks

Title:  Ilse Witch
Author:  Terry Brooks
Format:  PB
Pages:  456
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Del Rey, 2001
ISBN-13:  978-0345396556
Series:  Shannara, Book 12

Favorite Quote:  Time and cunning, and the power of the magic she was born to, would yield her a world.

Synopsis (Amazon):  When a half-drowned elf is found floating in the seas of the Blue Divide, an old mystery resurfaces. Thirty years ago, an elven prince led an expedition in search of a legendary magic said to be more powerful than any in the world. Of all those who set out on that ill-fated voyage, not one has ever returned. Until now. The rescued elf carries a map covered with mysterious symbols–and Walker Boh, the last of the Druids, has the skill to decipher them. But someone else understands the map’s significance: the Ilse Witch, a ruthless young woman who wields a magic as potent as his own. She will stop at nothing to possess the map–and the magic it leads to.

Review:  I've gone back to the future.  This book is set far in the future from any of the others I've read so far.  It is a good enough story, with some new characters I'm fond of.  However, unfortunately, most of the characters seem all too familiar.  Bek, the main hero in the story, could be any of the Ohmsfords from previous novels.  The druid, Walker, is a character from some of the previous novels, but now he seems more like Allanon.  The red-haired rover, Rue, could be the red-haired rover, Damson.  The list is longer, but I think you get the idea.  I'm sorry to say that, again, I see nothing but a recycle of the same character-types in very similar situations.  At least there's a new evil to fight and not the usual suspects.  The settings are changed, but it's becoming more and more difficult not to see what's coming, since it's pretty much the same thing that was coming the last time.

I would give up on this series about now, but I'm more than half way there.  I will finish this trilogy,  but then I'm taking a break from this series for a while.  I notice the number of books I've finished this month is pathetic and I can only imagine it's simply because I'm really not having a great deal of luck reading these particular novels.  But, I have a sneaking suspicion that the last trilogy I'm supposed to read will finally tie in the past (our time) with the future (Shannara time).  Then again, since there is another trilogy in the works, I could be wrong.

I'm giving this novel a 3 because it really wasn't terrible.  I think I'm just tired of Shannara for the moment, so I'm taking that into account.  Maybe a fresh look in a few months will add some pleasure to my reading.

Rating:  3 / 5

Border's Bookstore

The Border's bookstore near my house is closing, along with many other branches.  I went down yesterday since they sent me an email saying they were having an 'Everything Must Go' sale.  I ended up with 5 new books.  Not satisfied with breaking my vow not to get any new books, I also went to the library and picked up 3 books off their freebie rack.  So, when I came home I removed a few books I really don't think I'll ever read from my shelves.  I am also expecting several books from my Wish List at PaperbackSwap.  So, my To Be Read Pile is about to get larger instead of smaller....just in time for the end of the month.  Fortunately, since I had such a rocky start at the first of the year and ended up removing a bunch of books I didn't like from my list, I will still be making headway for the year.

Ah, well, I guess there's really no such thing as too many good books.

February 16, 2011

Angel Fire East by Terry Brooks

Title:  Angel Fire East
Author:  Terry Brooks
Format:  PB
Pages:  367
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Del Rey, 2000
ISBN-13:  978-0345435255
Series:  Shannara, Book 11

Favorite Quote:  The name John Ross was faintly legible against the aged parchment.  Even as he watched, the name turned a shade darker.  You take away what you can from these battles, he thought.  The life of a Knight of the Word was a reasonable trophy.

Synopsis (Amazon):  As a Knight of the Word, John Ross has struggled against the dark forces of the Void and his minions for twenty-five years.  The grim future he dreams each night-- a world reduced to blood and ashes--will come true, unless he can stop them now, in the present.

The birth of a gypsy morph, a rare and dangerous creature that could be an invaluable weapon in his fight against the Void, brings John Ross and Nest Freemark together again. Twice before, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance, the lives of Ross and Nest have intersected. Together, they have prevailed.  But now they will face an ancient evil beyond anything they have ever encountered, a demon of ruthless intelligence and feral cunning.  As a firestorm of evil erupts, threatening to consume lives and shatter dreams, they have but a single chance to solve the mystery of the Gypsy morph--and their own profound connection.

Review:  The final book in the 'Word & Void' trilogy was one of my favorite books in this series.  It ended in an unexpected manner, with a combination of sorrow and hope.  I never saw the direction the story was taking and that is so refreshing.  The suspense and action are combined with plenty of emotion, the perfect combination for a really great novel.  I'll miss the characters Nest and John Ross.  I do not believe they will be in any of the rest of the books, but I'm hoping maybe I'm wrong.  If I was to recommend anything, it would be to read this trilogy even if you never intend to read any of the rest of the Shannara saga.  It's that good.

Rating:  5 / 5

February 14, 2011

A Knight of the Word by Terry Brooks

Title:  A Knight of the Word
Author:  Terry Brooks
Format:  PB
Pages:  386
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Del Rey, 1999
ISBN-13:  978-0345424648
Series:  Shannara, Book 10

Favorite Quote:  It was so easy to become lost in the smug certainty that what happened to others really mattered very little to you.  It was so easy to ignore the ties that bound humanity on its collective journey in search of grace.

Synopsis (Amazon):  Eight centuries ago the first Knight of the Word was commissioned to combat the demonic evil of the Void. Now that daunting legacy has passed to John Ross--along with powerful magic and the knowledge that his actions are all that stand between a living hell and humanity's future.

Then, after decades of service to the Word, an unspeakable act of violence shatters John Ross's weary faith. Haunted by guilt, he turns his back on his dread gift, settling down to build a normal life, untroubled by demons and nightmares.

But a fallen Knight makes a tempting prize for the Void, which could bend the Knight's magic to its own evil ends. And once the demons on Ross's trail track him to Seattle, neither he nor anyone close to him will be safe. His only hope is Nest Freemark, a college student who wields an extraordinary magic all her own. Five years earlier, Ross had aided Nest when the future of humanity rested upon her choice between Word and Void. Now Nest must return the favor. She must restore Ross's faith, or his life--and hers--will be forfeit . . .

Review:  This book was better than the last.  Maybe I've become accustomed to the time-switch made by the order I'm reading the books in.  Maybe it's just a better story.  Either way, this trilogy is proving to be one of the better sets of books in the Shannara saga.  Unlike previous sets, so far these both have been well worth the time invested in reading them.  Usually, there's been at least one weak novel in each trilogy along the way but, unless the conclusion to this trilogy is weaker than I expect, this group will be an all-around winner.

The characters are likable and believable.  I find I care about the fallen Knight, John Ross, and Nest, the young woman with the powers that she doesn't understand.  There are a number of magical creatures (both good and evil) which made the story that much more interesting.  I will admit though that I knew who the hidden demon was long before the story gave up the secret, which is a shame, but the knowing did not take away from the enjoyment of the story.

Rating:  4 / 5

February 13, 2011

Running With the Demon by Terry Brooks

Title:  Running with the Demon
Author:  Terry Brooks
Format:  PB
Pages:  434
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Del Rey, 1998
ISBN-13:  978-0345422583
Series:  Shannara, Book 9

Favorite Quote:  He glanced down at his hands, studying them.  In the manner of one who has come to terms with being shunned, he could ignore the pain of his banishment.  Subconsciously, his fellow passengers had made a perfectly understandable decision.  You leave as many empty seats as possible between yourself and Death.

Synopsis (Amazon):  In a sleepy steel-mill town, the ultimate battle between Good and Evil is about to begin . . .

Sinnissippi Park, in Hopewell, Illinois, has long hidden a mysterious evil, locked away from humankind by powers greater than most could even imagine. But now the malevolent creatures that normally skulk in the shadows of the park grow bolder, and old secrets hint at a violent explosion.

The brewing conflict draws John Ross to Hopewell. A Knight of the Word, Ross is plagued by nightmares that tell him someone evil is coming to unleash an ancient horror upon the world. Caught between them is fourteen-year-old Nest Freemark, who senses that something is terribly wrong but has not yet learned to wield the budding power that sets her apart from her friends.

Now the future of humanity depends upon a man haunted by his dreams and a gifted young girl--two souls who will discover what survives when hope and innocence are shattered forever . . .

Review:  I was really looking forward to this book.  I'd heard the 'Word & Void' books were some of the best of this series.  They were certainly different from the rest of the books so far.  These novels are set in a time much like ours.  There are magical creatures and magic, a great war going on between good and evil, but most people are unaware.  There are cities and Greyhound buses.  I've mentioned that I'm reading these in the order recommended by the author for first time readers of this series.  However this trilogy comes first chronologically in the story line.  I can only assume that this trilogy is prior to 'Great War' mentioned in the other books; the 'Great War', which will lead to the coming of the world described in the volumes I've already read.

This book was good, not great, but enjoyable.  It just doesn't really seem to fit in with the other 'Shannara' novels all that well.  After spending all this time reading about elves, dwarves, and trolls set against a barely developed civilization, this story is almost a shock, with the electricity and running water and microwaves, especially since it is set in the past.  I'll almost be relieved to return to the future.

After this trilogy, the next 6 books come after The Talismans of Shannara chronologically.  Then, there are 3 more that come sometime after the 'Word & Void' trilogy ends, but before the time of The Sword of Shannara.  It seems odd to me to keep skipping back and forth between past and present.....or present and future....depending on how you look at it.  I think in retrospect, I would have been better off reading these books chronologically.  But since I've started down this road, assuming I decide to stay on it at all, I will follow the directions laid out by the author.

Rating:  3 / 5

February 10, 2011

First King of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Title:  First King of Shannara
Author:  Terry Brooks
Format:  HC
Pages:  488
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Del Rey, 1996
ISBN-13:  978-0345396525
Series:  Shannara, Book 8

Favorite Quote:  The boy looked at him, his dark eyes intense.  "I understand."  He paused, the light changing in his eyes.  "I will miss you, Father."

Synopsis (Amazon):  Horrified by the misuse of magic they had witnessed during the First War of the Races, the Druids at Paranor devoted themselves to the study of the old sciences, from the period before the collapse of civilization a thousand years before. Only the Bremen and a few trusted associates still studied the arcane arts. And for his persistence, Bremen found himself outcast, avoided by all but the few free-thinkers among the Druids.

But his removal from Paranor was not altogether a terrible thing, for Bremen learned that dark forces were on the move from the Northlands. That seemingly invincible armies of trolls were fast conquering all that lay to their south. That the scouts for the army--and its principal assassins--were Skull Bearers, disfigured and transformed Druids who had fallen prey to the seductions of the magic arts. And that at the heart of the evil tide was an archmage and former Druid named Brona!

Using the special skills he had acquired through his own study of Magic, Bremen was able to penetrate the huge camp of the Troll army and learn many of its secrets. And he immediately understood that if the peoples of the Four Lands were to escape eternal subjugation they would need to unite. But, even united, they would need a weapon, something so powerful that the evil magic of Brona, the Warlock Lord, would fail before its might...

Review:  I was pleasantly surprised by this novel.  It is a prequel to the other novels in this series that I've already read, so I went into it expecting not to like the time-frame change.  However, learning the past of Allanon, more about the Druid Council, and particularly the forming of the Sword of Shannara were all topics that grabbed my interest.  The story had a great many good characters and a reliably intriguing mix of action and emotion.  While not the best of his novels, this is certainly one of the good ones.

Rating:  4 / 5 

February 6, 2011

The Talismans of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Title:  The Talismans of Shannara
Author:  Terry Brooks
Format:  HC
Pages:  453
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Del Rey, 1993
ISBN-13:  978-0345363008
Series:  Shannara, Book 7

Favorite Quote:  His chest tightened.  Four riders.  The Four Horsemen of the legends, the slayers of mortal men come out of a time so distant it had been all but forgotten.  But he had read the tales, he repeated to himself, and he knew what they were.  Famine.  Pestilence.  War.  Death.

Synopsis (Amazon):   Although some of the goals to keep Shannara safe had been met, the work of Walker Boh, Wren, and Par was not yet done. For The Shadowen still swarmed over the Four Lands, poisoning all with their dark magic. Each Shannaran had a special death waiting for him- at the hands of The Shadowen-unless Par could find a way to free them all with the Sword of Shannara.

Review:  This was another fairly good read, but not anywhere near as great as the last one.  It is the finale of the tetralogy, "The Heritage of Shannara", and as such ties up the loose ends left from the previous 3 novels and gives a short wrap-up for the main characters still left standing.  For what it was, which is basically a 400+ page ending to a trilogy, it was easy to get into and a fast read.

I've been reading these novels in the order suggested by the author for readers who are new to the series.  Since I usually cannot tolerate short stories nor graphic novels, I skipped those entirely in the list.  It looks like next I should read a prequel, which I really hesitate to do since I really dislike reading out of the actual chronological order.

Rating:  3 / 5

February 2, 2011

The Elf Queen of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Title:  The Elf Queen of Shannara
Author:  Terry Brooks
Format:  HC
Pages:  403
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Del Rey, 1992
ISBN-13:  978-0785706205
Series:  Shannara, Book 6

Favorite Quotes:  The dark eyes blinked, and he gave her a strange look.  Then I will not die until you are ready for me to do so.

"He gave his life for you, Lady Wren," Triss offered solemnly.  "He stood over you when the Wisteron would have claimed you and fought to keep you safe.  None of us would have fared as well.  We tried, but only Garth had the strength.  Keep that as your memory of him."

Synopsis (Amazon):  Find the Elves and return them to the world of Men!" the shade of the Druid Allanon had ordered Wren.  It was clearly an impossible task. The Elves had been gone from the Westland for more than a hundred years. There was not even a trace of their former city of Arborlon left to mark their passing. No one in the Esterland knew of them -- except, finally, the Addershag.  The blind old woman had given instructions to find a place on the coast of the Blue Divide, build a fire, and keep it burning for three days. "One will come for you."

Tiger Ty, the Wing Rider, had come on his giant Roc to carry Wren and her friend Garth to the only clear landing site on the island of Morrowindl, where, he said, the Elves might still exist, somewhere in the demon-haunted jungle.  Now she stood within that jungle, remembering the warning of the Addershag: "Beward, Elf-girl. I see danger ahead for you . . . and evil beyond imagining." It had proved all too true.
Wren stood with her single weapon of magic, listening as demons evil beyond all imagining gathered for attack. How long could she resist?

And if, by some miracle, she reached the Elves and could convince them to return, how could they possibly retrace her perilous path to reach the one safe place on the coast?

Review:  Wow.  Just wow.  When Mr. Brooks sets his mind to it, he can really write a fantastic story.  This is my favorite book so far in this series.  The strong, silent Garth, the adorable Tree Squeak Faun, and Wren are all wonderful, memorable characters.  There are plenty more good characters, too, along with loads of edge-of-your-seat adventure.  The story is well-written and impossible to put down.  I loved this book.

Rating:  5 / 5
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