Monday, May 14, 2018

A Double Dose of Shannara

The first installment of author Terry Brooks’ original Shannara trilogy opens with the Elf Flick Ohmsford, son of Curzad, meeting the Druid Allanon, who wants to see his brother Shea. Allanon tells of the titular Sword of Shannara, which has the power to defeat the Warlock Lord Brona ruling over the Skull Kingdom in the Northland, and departs, leaving Shea with a pouch of three Elfstones. Flick and Shea meet Balinor, the son of Ruhl Buckhannah, King of Callahorn and a friend of Allanon, and encounter a creature with a Skull symbol that dies with morning light.

The Valemen (basically another term for Elves) reach the highland city of Leah, meeting Menion, who might just be in line for his country’s throne. They ultimately reach the Dwarven community of Culhaven, where they receive news that the Druid Keep of Paranor has fallen, and that the Sword of Shannara has been seized; however, only the descendant of Jerle Shannara can wield it, making the MacGuffin essentially useless to the enemy. The book occasionally touches upon the franchise’s backstory of the Great Wars, which caused the evolution of the various races.

Flick and Shea receive injuries that necessitate their transportation to the Storlock Gnomes, who are dedicated healers. The thief Panamon Creel serves as another companion for the group, and eventually reach the city of Tyrsis, the monarch being ill and Balinor’s brother Palance Buckhannah ruling in his patriarch’s stead. Menion Leah soon rescues another character, the woman Shirl Ravenlock, whom Palance wants as a wife, with the good characters ultimately entering the Northland for want of the Sword, battles concluding the text.

Overall, this is an enjoyable first fantasy novel from Terry Brooks, although it contains many similarities with J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, with Allanon, for instance, being something of a pastiche of Gandolf from the late author’s magnum opus, and conflicts of royal succession were certainly nothing new for the fantasy genre even in the time Brooks’ debut novel was formulated in the late 1970s. In spite of the similarities to Lord of the Rings, The Sword of Shannara was certainly a good first effort, and worth reading by fantasy aficionados.

The Black Irix (Paladins of Shannara, #3)
In this short story, set a little over a year after the end of the events in Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara, a wayfarer named Audrana Coos gives Flick medicine to secretly give his brother, who consequentially feels better, although he’s reluctant to embark upon any more quests. Panamon Creel visits Shea and informs that a merchant named Kestra Chule has the eponymous Black Irix, supposedly lost when a mountain collapsed upon Creel’s Rock Troll friend Keltset, and sure enough, Shea is drawn into another adventure, even if briefer.

Flick joins his brother and Panamon on the new quest, which takes them to the lower Northland, finding that creatures known as Harrgs can’t stand pepper root. Shea finds the Irix through use of the Elfstones and find themselves at Kestra’s place, although getting the medallion certainly is not an easy task. All in all, this is a short but sweet tale that adds a little to the original Shannara trilogy, although those who haven’t read the greater novel it chronologically follows will certainly be lost, and only those with sufficient knowledge of Brooks’ fantasy franchise will enjoy it better.

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