Stepping away from editing for a second to bring you this little ole thing. You know me, I gotta yammer about a book the instant I'm done with it!
Dark forces are on the
move from the Northlands, and Bremen, an outcast Druid, learns of the
huge Troll armies on the march and the Skull Bearers who act as their
spies. To save the Druids, Bremen must convince the people of the Four
Lands that their only hope lies in uniting -- and in using the magic
they fear above all else.
MY RATING: 3 STARS
So there's the summary and the rating, and here's the review:
Well, now that I've gotten my behind in gear and sat down to write a blasted review...
off the bat, this had J.R.R. Tolkien all over it. Terry Brooks's Four
Lands are like Middle-earth on a diet. There's an evil overlord rising
back to power, an even more evil object of magic he can't be allowed to
lay hands on, a small bunch of ragtags committed to stopping him, and a
special sword meant to rally the troops and destroy the bad guy. There's
even a Gandalf, an Aragorn, a Legolas, a Gimli, and a mix of Arwen,
Galadriel, and Eowyn! I spent some time half-convinced I would see a few
orcs or hobbits; negative on the latter, and trolls and gnomes instead
of the former...close enough.
Glaring similarities aside, I enjoyed this. It was far less wordy than The Lord of the Rings
and it had its more stirring moments as well (but I'll be honest, LOTR
hit me harder). I get the feeling that a lot more effort has gone into
this as opposed to, say, the Landover series, which I found charming
enough to keep reading. Therefore, I'm going to stick with Shannara for
awhile. A good bit of it felt derivative (wow, I'm using that word a lot
in conjunction with a lot of fantasy epics! It just goes to show how
Tolkien set the standard for the genre, doesn't it?) but it was good
enough to keep me interested. I did think that the constant battles and
skirmishes developed a lot of drag in the narrative and it all but
killed the suspense to have the characters' lives in perpetual danger
they always just managed to evade, and since this was a prequel, I
pretty much knew how it was going to end, but I feel on solid ground for
the main body of the series.
The characters themselves weren't
as three-dimensional as I would have liked (development is key!) but I
got very attached to Tay Trefenwyd, the Legolas in this equation. My
first impression of him was of a happy-go-lucky chap I felt certain was
going to annoy the pants off me, but it's to Mr. Brooks's credit that
Tay became my uncontested favorite, with more depth and dimension to him
than I had initially expected. His was the one subplot I felt didn't
detract from the main conflict, and in fact supplemented and
strengthened it as every good subplot should. I honestly felt for him,
and it was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears in the middle
of McDonald's when his part in the story ended the way it did. I just
wish I felt the same about the other characters, and while I see the
logic in not expending so much effort on people who won't have any
further screen time beyond this installment, I still would have
appreciated it even more if I'd gotten to know them half so well.
see, what else...There's not much else, except to say that if you don't
feel like devoting yourself to LOTR, you could do much worse than to
pick this up. Oh, wait! Almost forgot! After doing some research on the
subject myself a few years ago, I can applaud Mr. Brooks's efforts in
detailing the art of blacksmithing. But one tiny nitpick: steel isn't
cast when forging a sword. Just a minor irritant that gets me whenever I
come across it.
Anyway, there were times when it felt like this
was a hodge podge of unrelated quests and whatnot, but it all came
together pretty neatly in the end. It's definitely one I don't regret
reading, unlike other fantasy novels I could name. *coughBrisingr!cough* I look forward to the rest of the series!
There you have it, and now I have to get back to work!
Your humble book nerd,