Gretna, LA, USA | Member Since 2006
Terry Brooks is one of those writers that's strongly influenced fantasy writing, and also our expectations for what such writing should bring to its readers and listeners.
Granted. We all can agree on that. We can all also agree that on occasion, certain of his works stand out from the others, while some step back into the shadows of his better works. Granted again. All in all, though, each one of the Shannara novels is a VERY enjoyable and rewarding read.
Now, here's where I rant, but not in a bad way. You see, believe it or not, the ENTIRE series, as a whole, could be considered complete. Oh, but no. Not according to Brooks, who has, over the past few years, written a whole series of prequels, then a series of PRE-prequels, as well as other lines of books that start along the Shannara timeline, and then branch out, combining both new and old characters, blending new and old magics, and both twisting and strengthening the story lines.
Now, this isn't a bad thing. Just don't get settled. Don't think it's over, because obviously, in Brooks' Shannara universe, you never really know. And guess what?
He's done it again.
In this first book in the Dark Legacy Series, his latest efforts in the highly popular Shannara realm, New York Times bestselling author Terry Brooks has decided return to one of the most exciting eras in that series, and in doing so, presents two of his very obvious traits, starting with page one.
First, this novel shows Brooks' well-known bent for setting up a glorious quest, which may seem a bit formulaic to many of his fans. Let's understand that Brooks tends to paint on a large canvas, one that requires much room to live up to the author's, and your, expectations. He does this in Wards Of Faerie with initially modest, then broad literary strokes. Now, when Brooks does this, you can count on the second obvious trait.
It's going to get good. Really, really, really really good. And it DOES.
One hundred years after Brooks' High Druid novel, Straken, which ended with a discovered diary possibly pointing the way to the lost elfstones, we are introduced to new generations of the major players in the Shannara series. We're also treated with the twisted plans and plots that are rife in both the elven kingdom, where magic is fading, and the human-led federation, where technology and science seem to be gaining a questionable foothold.
So, the obvious question: Is this one of Brooks' Shannara novels that stands apart, or hides a bit in the shadows?
This one definitely stands apart, and then some. Brooks' writing style is on the mark, and pulls us in immediately with engaging, descriptive emotional writing that is, at the same time, not too heavy-handed. It was a pleasure to both read, and then listen to this work, and as usual, Brooks surprised me along the way with shifting plots and surprising directions. I just used an Audible credit to get the second novel in the series. And loved it. Read my review for more details on that worthy second tome in the series.
As usual, I will NOT give hints, spoilers, plots, or anything else to take away from the wondrous literary ride this new series offers to you, Audible listener. No whining.
If you want some of Brooks' best writing in the Shannara series, look no further.
This is, simply put, a triumph.
If you follow my reviews, you know that I like to roll the dice, to randomly buy a series on a whim, on the luck of the draw. Sometimes, it's a bust.
This time, it's a definite win, but if you go by how the series was created, you'd probably run in the opposite direction.
Here's one for the books: Jim Butcher is well-known for his "Dresden Files" series, created a fantastic fantasy series on a BET. Yep, a bet. Read on.
To quote the Codex Alera Wiki site, "the inspiration for the series came from a bet Jim was challenged to by a member of the Delray Online Writer’s Workshop. The challenger bet that Jim could not write a good story based on a lame idea, and Jim countered that he could do it using two lame ideas of the challenger’s choosing. The “lame” ideas given were “Lost Roman Legion", and “Pokémon”.
It DOES sound lame.
Well, Butcher makes it work. To the nines.
I've finished this first novel, and I'm enjoying this unique story line of humans with Roman similarities binding with elemental furies. Add unique races, backstabbing, politics, military battles, duels and an interwoven story line that pulls it all together, and you get a fantastic story that's simply put, a VERY VERY good listen.
The whole concept of fighting alongside elemental familiars used here is wonderfully executed. It's deep, well-thought magic-based partnership of man and magical creature is a pleasure to experience.
So, what about the writing?
Again, if you follow my reviews, you know that I love ENGAGING fantasy or scifi writing. Anything less won't do. And this is definitely engaging. There's great characters that plot, backstab, challenge, fight for their beliefs, devour their enemies, and celebrate their victories. You're taken on a great romp of a story, and in the end, isn't that what we all want in a good listen?
I know I do, and I so enjoyed this first audiobook in the series, that I bought the entire series. Yep. And I'm not disappointed with the decision.
Who knew that Lost Roman Legions and Pokemon could knock it out of the park?
Home run, Jim. Home run.
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