Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Black Elfstone

The Black Elfstone (The Fall of Shannara, #1)The Black Elfstone by Terry Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first entry of Terry Brooks’ final Shannara subseries, The Fall of Shannara, opens with Tigueron, leader of the Orsis Guild, sitting in a tavern, having received a contract to assassinate the Druid Drisker Arc. In the meanwhile, Tarsha Kaynin comes to terms with her uncle taking away her magically-able brother Kaynin, and she seeks help from the Druids of Paranor, specifically Drisker, High Druid of the order. Furthermore, several tribes of Trolls face obliteration at the hands of ethereal antagonists, with Drisker visiting the village Emberen as an outcast of the Druids of Paranor, divided by infighting, replaced by the new Ard Rhys Ober Balronen.

Tarsha seeks to refine her wishsong abilities as an apprentice to Drisker, a few days after which Balronen assembles his advisors to discuss the recent obliteration of Troll tribes, with the High Druid’s Blade, Darcon “Dar” Leah, having feelings for one of the advisors, Zia Amarodian, although said love is somewhat unrequited, given her fancy with Ruis Quince. Moreover, Allis Errencarthyjorian, one year into her training as a Druid, seeks further advancement within Paranor, mentioning to her mentor Clizia Porse, the chief examiner, that a stranger seeking admission, Kassen, has appeared at the Keep’s gates.

During her training, Drisker presents Tarsha a Druid’s staff and leaves via an aerial flit at the news of the defeat of another Troll tribe. When a cottage goes ablaze, a moor cat connected to Drisker saves Tarsha from death, with her brother in the meantime sensing his sibling is alive, feeling betrayed and consequentially going on a killing spree. A mysterious white-cloaked leader, colloquially called White Cloak, leads ethereal forces against the Druids, with an enigmatic young boy helping Drisker and Tarsha, when reuniting, visit an Orsis Guild hideout, with a cooked-up story about Tarsha receiving a marriage pledge to a Federation official.

Dar Leah returns to Paranor, seeking his family’s Sword of Leah, and Clizia Porse gives Drisker a scrye orb, with the former Ard Rhys somewhat distrusting the Druid. Kassen’s true motives for visiting Paranor have their revelation, with the further threat of magic threatening to depart from the land of Shannara, and a climactic battle occurring at the Keep. Drisker infiltrates the fortress’s cellars, seeking the Black Elfstone that could spell salvation for Paranor, and he personally faces the white-cloaked leader of the attackers, in the end finding himself trapped in the citadel.

In the end, I very much enjoyed the first installment of the concluding tetralogy to Brooks’ Shannara series, with plenty of action and development of a new character cast, its myriad of important events somewhat giving a glimpse as to how Shannara exactly “falls”. While I could ascertain that the primary characters were human, given the mention of the Elves as missing in action, I still had trouble visualizing the appearances of the chief luminaries, given the lack of description as to what exactly they look like, in terms of hair and such. Regardless, I definitely look forward to more of the final Shannara subseries.

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