Thursday, November 21, 2019

Ilse Witch


The first installment of author Terry Brooks’ Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy opens with Wing Rider Hunter Predd patrolling the waters of the Blue Divide north of the island of Mesca Rho, a Wing Hove outpost at the western edge of Elven territorial waters, when he finds an injured man. Meanwhile, Elven King Allardon Elessedil waits the arrival of a scribe to copy the map Hunter finds. The titular antagonist, the Ilse Witch, observes the buried keep of Paranor, where Allardon goes to meet Walker the last of the Druids, and his moor cat Rumor.

As these events are unfolding, Redden Alt Mer patrols a Federation war camp, fighting for its government due to their pay, although he and the Rovers, despite fighting well, despise discipline, and his disobedience leads to his arrest. Walker meets the Elven King and wishes him to share magic with his people, although the monarch is reluctant to do so, after which assassins attack and wound the regent. Hunter and Walker ultimately rendezvous with Bek Rowe and Quentin Leah, making it a point to summon an airship crew to fight the Ilse Witch.

Bek eventually receives a phoenix stone from the King of the Silver River, with this encounter seeming a dream. They join the voyage of the series’ eponymous Jerle Shannara, an airship that takes them over the vast expanse of the Blue Divide into the unknown. Two months elapse before the vessel reaches the island of Shatterstone, with incidents such as a sentient jungle, an encounter with War Shrikes, and a couple of storms. The Ilse Witch’s own ship, the Black Moclips, encounters the Jerle Shannara, with a few battles and revelations concluding the story’s action.

Overall, this is an enjoyable start to the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy, with plenty of action and a believable fantasy world, hints of olden Earth dropped throughout the narrative, and plenty of continuity nods to prior entries of Brooks’ franchise popping up. Sometimes, however, one can find it difficult to track the races of particular characters, and a list of dramatic personae preceding the action fo the novel would have certainly been welcome. Regardless, I certainly don’t regret reading this fantasy yarn, and very much look forward to reading its sequels.

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