Saturday, December 5, 2020

Jarka Ruus


The first entry of Terry Brooks’ High Druid of Shannara trilogy occurs a score after the voyage of the Jerle Shannara in the chronologically-preceding subseries, and opens with the leader of the Third Druid Council, the Ard Rhys, at the time Grianne Ohmsford, formerly the Ilse Witch, yearning to leave the Keep at Paranor with the Rock Troll Kermadec. They do ultimately depart, although certain circumstances lead to the Ard Rhys’ quick return, and in the meantime, the insurgent Shadea a’Ru plots rebellion against Grianne, holding council with her supporters within the cellars of the Druid’s Keep.

The Prime Minister also has involvement in the plot against Grianne, with a potion known as liquid night key to the plot to overthrow her, and she consequentially goes missing. In the meantime, the Ard Rhys’ nephew, Penderrin Ohmsford, learns about the Druid’s disappearance, meets the King of the Silver River, and visits the Elven village of Emberen. The mentioned liquid night traps Grianne in a shadowy realm known as the Forbidding. Pen’s airship also lands at Emberen, where Ahren Elessedil instructs his niece Khyber in magic, the Elfstones necessary to rescue Grianne.

The Rock Trolls are dismissed from their service to Paranor given their partial blame in the Ard Rhys’ disappearance, with Shadea summoning a deadly weapon known as the Stiehl. Ahren Elessedil and company set off on horseback in search of the tanequil, key to rescuing Grianne, and storms plague their progress during several chapters. They do find themselves on an airship again commanded by Gar Hatch, whose blind daughter Cinnaminson serves as his navigator, and with whom Pen has romantic attraction, much to Gar’s disdain, and the captain himself shows wavering loyalties, given his disposition as a Rover interested in money.

Back in the spirit world, Grianne encounters the shade of Brona the long-deceased Warlock Lord, who ironically plays a role in leading the Ard Rhys around the eponymous Jarka Ruus. In Shannara, rain impedes the progress of Gar’s airship, and Ahren Elessedil doesn’t return from an errand for several hours. The vessel encounters shades attacking from a lake, with Khyber during a battle tasked with using the Elfstones, a major character in the story meeting their end. The country of the Rock Trolls becomes the party’s next destination, and the book ends with Grianne still awaiting rescue.

All in all, I definitely enjoyed this entry of the Shannara series as much as I had its predecessors, given its heavy degree of fantastical action and mythos, with occasional twists in the mix. Granted, there are certain details that are a bit ambiguous, such as the races of specific characters, with reminders at times having been welcome, and occasional long stretches without dramatis personae being referenced by name, even at the start of certain chapters. Regardless, those who enjoyed chronologically-past Shannara books will definitely enjoy this fun start to another subseries within the franchise.

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