For reasons known only to himself, the King of the Silver River has charged young Penderrin Ohmsford, barely more than a boy, with the daunting task of rescuing his aunt, Grianne, Ard Rhys of the Druid order, from her forced exile in the terrifying dimension of all things damned: the Forbidding. With the noble dwarf Tagwen and the prodigal elven princess Khyber Elessedil by his side, and with the outcome of the bloody war between the Federation and the Free-born at stake, Pen has accepted his mission without question. But not without risk, or sacrifice.
Shadea a'Ru, the ruthless Druid responsible for imprisoning the true Ard Rhys and usurping leadership at Paranor, has sent her agents and assassins in relentless pursuit of Pen and his comrades. In securing the talisman he needs to breach the Forbidding, Pen has paid a devastating price. Now if the Free-born forces, already decimated by the Federation's death-dealing new weapon, should fall, Shadea's domination of the Four Lands will be assured. Nothing short of Pen's success can turn the tide.
But Pen's challenge grows greater when he learns that his parents, Bek Ohmsford and Rue Meridian, have fallen into Shadea's hands. He must try to help them, but once within the walls of Druid's Keep, where Shadea's minions and dark magic lurk at every turn, Pen's survival is far from assured. Yet it will all pale in comparison to the horrors that wait inside the Forbidding, horrors poised to break free upon the Four Lands when the time is right.
©2005 Terry Brooks; (P)2005 Books on Tape, Inc.
"A great storyteller, Terry Brooks creates rich epics filled with mystery, magic, and memorable characters. If you haven't read Terry Brooks, you haven't read fantasy." (Christopher Paolini)
"Terry's place is at the head of the fantasy world." (Philip Pullman)
Lately I've been listening mostly to the works of Robert Stanek (The Kingdoms and the Elves, his recent story collection) - books that reminded me how much I love the fantasy genre. I must say, and I could be the only one to not like where Terry has been going with the Shannara books, but I just didn't like Jarka Ruus, the first book of the High Druid trilogy. Tanequil was more of the same, and it suffered lots from "middle book syndrome", but unlike Morgawr, the last book from the previous trilogy which was disappointing to say the least, Terry catches stride, returns to form with Straken. Straken was thoroughly enjoyable, a cut above the norm.
Much as I like Terry Brooks it does seem that the same themes are repeated ad nauseam. If it just me or do female lead characters die / nobly sacrifice themselves in every book. Not that I object to either the sentiment or even the device but it can get old. In short read one series and then quit to avoid d?j? vu.
Unless I skipped ahead on my Android while listening (something that has happened often), there were major threads that were not tied up. For example 1) Weka Dart's fate in the forbidding. It seemed like he would have a much more climatic ending. After hearing the news that he has won't be able to come back to the real word, he simply says "it sounds boring" and walks off. 2) Tael Riverine. This demon, who is powerful enough to orchestrate an abduction from the forbidding is not able to catch up to Grianne on her way back home? He has no other allies to enlist? He can't walk through
The first two books of this trilogy are well written and full of twists. In fact it is so involved that you wonder how it can all be wrapped up in the final book. Sadly, the ending is a horrible disappointment. There are some things are just left without explanation (i.e. weka dart & Grianne's surge of power). Other wrap up items seemed rushed (Pied). But the worst part was that the ending made no sense and did not feel consistent with the story at all. It's not that you do know what's coming but rather do not understand why the author goes down that road. There is just no lead in to explain it. This book also suffers from making things waaaay too convenient at the end for the good guys. The first two books demonstrate that the evil forces are calculating and intelligent. For it to end the way it did would have required a complete mental meltdown on their parts. The bottom line is that if you have come along for the journey this far, you will wind up reading this trilogy. It's not bad but it just does not live up to the high standard that Terry has set in the past.
I have been a moderate fan of Brook's Shannara series since the second novel, but this novel was a big disappointment. Like a lot of modern fantasy books, Straken has multiple main protagonists. At the start of each chapter the story switches to a different protagonist and advances their associated thread of the plot. The problem is that only two of the five threads are interesting. The worst of these threads is about a war between the good human/elf alliance and the bad human empire. The good guys are presented as the outnumbered underdogs, but they seem hyper-competent compared to their opponents. The human/elf army is maneuverable, well supplied, better trained, and always has good intel on their opponents positions. The evil empire's army blunders about blind and useless for most of the book, despite it supposedly being composed of experience veterans. There is no suspense, because the good guys can do no wrong and the bad guys cant do anything right.
A second major plot thread follows the quest of a boy named Pendarian, He just isn't a fun character to read about. He is pretty dim and whines (in a self martyring way) a great deal. His successes don't seem to be a possible result of the situation the plot presents, rather he succeeds because he is the hero of a novel and thus must succeed in the end.
Even if you are a fan of Brooks, I recommend skipping this trilogy or borrowing it from the library and skimming it for the better, more interesting parts. In audiobook format, the boring sections are much more difficult to skip over.
Terry Brooks story seems to follow much of the same plot as the rest of the Shannara series, which of itself is a little tiresome. What makes this particular series absolutely horrid is the narrator, and his lack of talent to pronounce words the same way throughout the story. He constantly alters the way he'll pronounce one name or refers to something in the story then pronounces it completely different a bit later. All male voices are the same...whiney and gruff when doing all characters that are not of the "human race". Scott Brick was the narrator in the first book of this series, and he was tolerable...Paul Boehmer has no talent for making the books enjoyable. I wish they wouldv'e paid an extra $50.00 dollars to get someone else...anyone else. Save your credits. *the narrator on the abriged version is much better, and does a wonderful job, however, it is also much shorter and doesn't delve into the story as deep.*
The story itself isn't bad but before any action can be taken, the author has to do a disertation of how to's, what if's and back history. If you are going to do a magic spell, do it. Don't go into the history of it everytime. I find myself fast forwarding to get back to the action, then just stopping all together listening cuz I am so agitated.
Just my thoughts.
Love his books, but favor Scott Brick narration.
Probably Penn, preserverance against all odds.
His inability to match emotion with the scene he is reading or the voices of the characters.
Maybe, if if the screen writer has vision
I am a HUGE fan of Mr. Brooks and I was not disapointed with this addition to the Shannara Family. However, the narration of this story by Mr.Paul Boehmer is far from enjoyable. He seems to lack the ability to pronounce common every day words & his over use of dramatic pauses puts William Shatner to shame. His soft "sing song" style of reading would be much better suited to children's books.
I listen to 4 or 5 audio books a month and "Straken" the 3rd book in this series peaked my interest from beginning to end. I usually get bored after the 1st few books in a fantasy series, but never with Terry Brooks. I would suggest reading (or listening to) all of his prior works 1st, but it is not necessary. I love how he develops the characters, the realistic fantasy setting and the plot along with a great ending. I have listened to some audio books from as many 3 different readers for the same book, and I think the reader makes all the difference in the world. I give this book and the reader both 5 stars.
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