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Publisher's Summary

Legend has it that Paxon Leah is descended from the royals and warriors who once ruled the Highlands and waged war with magical weapons. But those kings, queens, and heroes are long gone, and there is nothing enchanted about the antique sword that hangs above Paxon’s fireplace. Running his family’s modest shipping business, Paxon leads a quiet life - until extraordinary circumstances overturn his simple world…and rewrite his destiny.

When his brash young sister is abducted by a menacing stranger, Paxon races to her rescue with the only weapon he can find. And in a harrowing duel, he is stunned to discover powerful magic unleashed within him - and within his ancestors' ancient blade. But his formidable new ability is dangerous in untrained hands, and Paxon must master it quickly because his nearly fatal clash with the dark sorcerer Arcannen won’t be his last. Leaving behind home and hearth, he journeys to the keep of the fabled Druid order to learn the secrets of magic and earn the right to become their sworn protector.

But treachery is afoot deep in the Druids’ ranks. And the blackest of sorcery is twisting a helpless innocent into a murderous agent of evil. To halt an insidious plot that threatens not only the Druid order but all the Four Lands, Paxon Leah must summon the profound magic in his blood and the legendary mettle of his elders in the battle fate has chosen him to fight.

©2014 Terry Brooks (P)20114 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

The Sword of Shannara is an unforgettable and wildly entertaining epic, animated by Terry Brooks’ cosmically generative imagination and storytelling joy.” (Karen Russell, New York Times bestselling author of Swamplandia!)
“If Tolkien is the grandfather of modern fantasy, Terry Brooks is its favorite uncle.” (Peter V. Brett, New York Times bestselling author of The Desert Spear)
“I can’t even begin to count how many of Terry Brooks’ books I’ve read (and reread) over the years. From Shannara to Landover, his work was a huge part of my childhood.” (Patrick Rothfuss, New York Times bestselling author of The Name of the Wind)
“Terry Brooks is a master of the craft and a trailblazer who established fantasy as a viable genre. He is required reading.” (Brent Weeks, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Angel Trilogy)
“The Shannara books were among the first to really capture my imagination. My daydreams and therefore my stories will always owe a debt to Terry Brooks.” (Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Beyonders and Fablehaven series)

What listeners say about The High Druid's Blade

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A departure from the typical Shannara storyline

A couple of spoilers in this review (4th paragraph)- You have been warned!

First, I have to say that overall I am a Brooks fan. Next to the Hobbit, Brooks was my introduction into the Fantasy genre at a pretty early age with the Sword of Shannara, and I've read everything he's put out since. So the medicare star rating should be a heads up.

Most of the Shanarra series has been somewhat, "formulaic", in the overall plot line, and I do want to give props to the author for exploring new ground (though in this book it's not really a good departure in my opinion).

This story centers once again around the Ohmsford family (though now it's the Leah name as the bloodlines merged at the end of the last trilogy, Witch Wraith). Its pretty obvious that this book is much more about setting the pieces in place politically and contextually for a much larger grand story down the road.

What we get in this book is relatively mundane in terms of the plot. There is no grand "end of the world" threat taking place (at least overtly) in this story- instead a bar fight escalates into a kidnapping and a rescue that sets some things in motion, that on the surface are, (for the Shannara world), rather "dull", especially given the bloodbath the previous trilogy was.

Contrasting that dynamic, the other main criticism is that the story gets quite dark in places. One of the main characters is a 15 year old girl (her age mentioned several times in the text), the offspring of the Railing Ohmsford and Mariah Leah line. At one point she is kidnapped and brutally tortured- I hate to give that away, but at the same timeI feel one should be aware of this going in.

I don't think the description of the torture is specific enough to technically be considered graphic, though it does get the idea of what is being done across well enough through implication. Most of the Shannara characters historically are quite young and always threatened with awful deaths- this brings a grittier detail to the character's trial that may be off-putting to some, given the age of the person being tortured. While there is a sexual tension to the torture (that component is threatened a few times), it doesn't cross the line into that thankfully. For added tension though, her capture always seems to wind up with her clothing removed at the end. It's effective, if a bit disturbing.

Where in pervious stories, the tension comes from the nature of the evil protagonist of the story attempting to destroy or conquer the world (and subsequently kill the hero of the story who is trying to prevent this), this is a much more direct assault against the main characters for personal gain by the protagonist (though agendas are hinted at).

Brooks is obviously trying to go a bit deeper here in the perceived threat to the heroes and raising the tension in a different way than he has done in the past. I can't say it isn't successful, even if it does leave you feeling a little dirty at the end (though I have read much worse by other authors- it's just somewhat unexpected here).

Another flaw is that the main protagonist, while diabolical in his casual brutality, doesn't seem to have any solid direct plans to gain power, but seems to let things develop at times and be along for the ride. He comes across less as an "arch villain" and more as a sadistic opportunist.

Despite all this, I'll keep with the story and see where it goes. Brooks has said in interviews that the Shannara series is headed to a major (world changing) confrontation between the Magic and Science spheres of the world, and there are some obvious hints being set up in this story for that to play out in the future. But ultimately this 1st book of this trilogy doesn't really communicate any cliff hanging, nail biting drama that makes you want to dive right into the next book. But I remain hopeful.

7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Brooks has lost it.

The inconsistency for Brooks writing has never been more evident than in this book.

So is he Gnome, or a Dwarf, how do you describe the Druid weapon-master and all his faults as a Gnome and rich history to forget and then call him a dwarf with this rich dwarven war history.

It would be one thing for it to be a turn of phrase, but you actually forgot he was a gnome because he meant so damn little to you as the author.

Ok how about the complete and total inconsistency of the Sword of Leah?
Automatic blocking? Geez where was that for Rone, or Quentin.
Automatic absorption of ranged magical attacks? Again literally every Leah would have loved for the sword to do that for them, but yeah I can see how it would develop MORE POWERS sitting over a normal fireplace for 500 years.

Brooks does not give a crap about his books his tv show, or anything not made out of large paper green stacks.

I’ve read my last book of Terry Brooks, if he does not give a shit about his product or professionalism then why would I?

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not Terry Brooks' best work

I was disappointed in the story overall. It was very derivative and unoriginal. It's too bad as we seldom get overlap with characters from one Shannara generation to another. There could have and should have been much more character development all around but especially for Affenglow Elessidil, the Ard Rhys who we last saw in Witch Wraith. It's too bad. The performance was outstanding, however. I will be skipping the rest of this series and going straight to the Fall of Shannara

2 people found this helpful

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Not The Terry Brooks I Remember

What disappointed you about The High Druid's Blade?

I have been a Terry Brooks Shannara fan for a long time. The books had so much wonder, suspense, and imagination that they would grab you and you just could not put them down. That is why I was so excited when I saw this book announced, I was so excited to visit this world again!

However, what I got was nowhere near the quality I have come to expect. The story was mundane. The villain was not a character you could believe in. One minute he is this master mind villain that bas all of the southland in his grasp and the next minute he is assassinating a key political figure in a way that no one believes. One minute he is the ruler of Dark House, a place so evil and so vile that people go in and never come out, and the next he is someone who has guards with the intelligence of 3rd graders.

Sorry, but this one was not what I have come to expect.

What was most disappointing about Terry Brooks’s story?

The description of the torture. Yes, there needs to be enough detail to trigger the readers emotions but this was way too graphic. I felt sickened by in and should have stopped the story there but because of the quality of the previous books I did my best to stick with it. I really shouldn't have.

What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

Just made the characters come alive.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The High Druid's Blade?

The description of the torture.

Any additional comments?

What happened? It seems obvious that this book it a lead up to a series but I have never read a book that so clearly could not stand up on it's own.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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overall good book

The book was good and the narrator performed it well. Not Terry Brooks best work but still enjoyable

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Good intro

Good reintroduction of the fabled Sword of Leah, and the heritage of the Ohmsford bloodline. The antagonist is a definite strong point, and it will be interesting to see how they deal with him going forward.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great addition to the series.

Really enjoyed this one. Took the Shannara series to a little different place which was a nice departure from the other books. Well done.

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Another great 'read'!

Fantastic story line, typical of the books by Terry Brooks. They've been a guilty pleasure since high school days for me and I'll continue reading his stuff until he stops writing.

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    4 out of 5 stars

great story telling but typical Shannara plot.

loved it as all of Brooks work. great story teller. his same story line as all of the Shannara books

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love these books

love all the books in this series. Terry brooks is a great author. hard to put down once you start!