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3.6 out of 5 stars
Morgawr (The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, Book 3)
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I've been a fan of Terry Brooks' Shannara series ever since the first book. The series is both interesting in its own right, yet wrapped in a familiarity that's very pleasant to the fantasy reader. The main knock against the later books in the series is that Brooks' characters tend to be very similar to previous versions. The entire Voyage of the Jerle Shannara series has suffered from this affliction. Not only that, but Brooks seems like he has been treading water with this series. The third and final book, Morgawr, is more of the same: comfortable, yet just a little too familiar. Rabid Brooks fans will definitely love it. Other Brooks fans will find that they enjoyed it, but it left them feeling a little bit empty, like having eaten some Chinese food and feeling hungry a couple of hours later.
The main problem with Morgawr is that it is basically a runaround. The main characters run, the Morgawr and his mwellrats pursue them. Some of the party runs into a monster, some action happens, and it's over. It all builds to a final confrontation that's obvious from the beginning, and it can take forever to get there. Doctor Who fans may be familiar with the "endless corridor" aspect of that show, where it seems like most of the story consists of the characters running back and forth down corridors. This book had much the same feeling, only on a larger scale.
There are also a series of coincidences and other illogical happenings that make the eyes roll. The party regroups in a much too easy way after being separated for so long. They basically run into each other. A few of them are better explained, having been found by Hunter Predd and his roc, a huge bird with very keen eyesight who has been patrolling the area in the air. However, the others are just a chance meeting that strains credulity to the limit. Not only that, but the Ilse Witch wakes from her catatonia in order to heal somebody, and gives Bek a vital clue that he needs, before returning to her catatonic state. The clue makes this happening very important, but I don't really buy the ultimate reasoning for why it happened.
The characters in Morgawr aren't bad, and Brooks has no qualms about killing some of them. This is a very bloody book (series, actually, since it started in the first book). Again, though, the characters are very similar to characters in past Shannara series, and the recognition factor jars. Bek is pretty much the same as previous Ohmsfords, Quenten Leah is like the Leahs of old, with his magic Sword of Leah. The Rovers are, as a group, similar to characters in the previous two series. At least the two main Rovers, Redden Alt Mer and Rue Meridian, are fairly distinctive, and interesting in their own right. This is not to say that the characters aren't interesting, because for the most part they are. I just wish they were different. They're comfortable characters, however, and fans of the series will like them. If this is the first Shannara series you've read, you won't notice this and will probably enjoy them in their own right.
The final problem to mention is Brooks' tendency to have is characters brood. They do this a lot, and the most annoying times are when the characters are in danger, or waiting for danger to come to them. It's not unusual for a character to be on guard, or watching for something to come at them, and spend one or two pages brooding about his or her circumstances, what's happened on this mission, friends who have died, or whatever. For me, it breaks the tension rather than adding to it. I kept saying to myself "would you please stop thinking and just get on with it?" And since the characters are usually brooding about similar things (the events since they arrived here), it also gets a bit repetitious as well.
Still, it is an enjoyable series to read, even more so if you've never read a Shannara book before. Brooks really has a talent for action scenes, and when they happen they are usually exciting. You do care for the characters and they are three-dimensional for the most part. You never know whether a character is safe or not, which also adds to the tension. Brooks kills off quite a number of them. I really enjoyed the finale, as the Morgawr, who has been shown to be much more powerful than any magic Bek or the Ilse Witch have, is defeated by brains rather than "a lucky shot" or something like that.
While I enjoy the Shannara books, and give this one just over 3 stars, part of me wishes Brooks would leave Shannara for awhile, or at least try to do something new with it. The concept of the Jerle Shannara series *is* new, with a voyage across the sea, but he wraps it in too many familiarities for this reader. If this is your first exposure to Brooks, then it's not so bad, and you will be entertained. I guess that's not a bad thing.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Terry Brooks has written another masterpiece. This book is truly exciting and left me on edge throughout. In this installment, he focuses on the group of adventurers after the destruction of Antrax, the evil magical force from book two. Druid Walker Boh has been left mortally wounded from his encounter with Antrax, and the Ilse Witch was forced to confront her evil doings by the Sword of Shannara. The Witch, who has finally accepted that she is Grianne Ohmsford, Bek's sister, withdraws deep within herself after seeing the vision in the Sword. She is unable to forgive herself for what she had become and completely shut herself off from everyone, including Bek. However, Bek is determined to break through to her and release her from her trance-like state. Meanwhile, the evil Morgawr, a magical creature thousands of years old and the trainer of the Ilse Witch, has commandeered a fleet of airships to seek out the Witch and destroy her. He will stop at nothing until the Witch is either dead or he has sucked the lifeforce from her. There are many adventures throughout as the Morgawr attemts to capture the Witch and as the group tries to escape. The airship battles are told in vivid detail, as well as the various encounters the group comes upon.
The book is excellent. I could not put it down. It is loaded with action and adventure on every page and left me wanting more. The ending is a real cliff hanger and sets the stage for the next trilogy, which is due to start next year. I highly recommend this book. It is a fitting conclusion to the "Voyage" trilogy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Morgawr" is the third and last book in Terry Brook's "Voyage of the Jerle Shannara" trilogy, which concerns the last of the triad of villains that the "Jerle Shannara"s crew goes up against. In the previous two books "Ilse Witch" and "Antrax" the Druid Walker led a range of characters to the faraway island of Parkasia in order to find a great treasure trove of ancient knowledge. Stalked by the Ilse Witch and then attacked by the archaic machinery of the Antrax, the crew found themselves utterly divided. Walker has been fatally wounded by the Antrax after unsuccessfully attempting to gain this treasure, but now bids Bek to save the one thing that they can salvage from the mission: the Ilse Witch.

Bek Ohmsford and the mysterious shape-shifter Truls Rokh are attempting to convince the Ilse Witch that she is not only Bek's sister Grianne Ohmsford, but that her mentor the Morgawr was the one that killed her parents - not Walker as she had been led to believe. After the truth is revealed to her by the magic of the Sword of Shannara, she slips into a state of catatonia that Bek cannot awaken her from. Meanwhile, the elf prince Ahren Elessedil and the seer Ryer Ord Star have retrieved the long-lost Elfstones only to find themselves captured by the Morgawr who seeks to use them in the attempt to trap the rest of the crew.

Everyone else is engaged in fairly dull activities: Quentin Leah does a lot of walking, and Rue Meridian, her brother Redder Alt Mer and the Wing Rider Hunter Predd take control of "Black Moclips" only to abandon it in a storm - a needless and pointless plot line. Panax's presence in the story is still a mystery. With the Antrax gone and the Ilse Witch converted, the story basically follows the surviving members of the crew trying to find one another, flee the island and avoid the Morgawr and his crew of reptilian Mwellrets.

The problem with this is that for all intents and purposes, the voyage is over. They came, they looked for the treasure, they didn't actually get the treasure (making the whole trip fairly pointless) and now they're leaving again. There is no sense of moving forward, only going back, and as such it's less interesting. To make things worse, the Morgawr is a rather humdrum bad guy, with nothing of the Ilse Witch's mystery or the Antrax's incorporeal threat. This is just a bad guy that wants to kill the goodies, because that's what bad guys do.

There are more problems: the love story between Bek and Rue is forced and unconvincing, there are more pointless encounters (including a man-eating plant) and it ends on a silly "here we go again" note. There are endless sermons on the nature of love and loyalty, and often the long-winded dialogue that Brooks gives his characters is painfully unnatural and often repetitive: "They fly no flag, and their crews act like dead men...the ones he could see were men, but they didn't act like men. They acted like machines. They didn't look as if they were alive. They were all still and empty-eyed." This sentence could be boiled down to half this length, without making the speaker sound like a robot and the reader like an idiot that has to have the situation pounded into him a number of times.

Neither Ryer nor Truls is given a satisfactory send-off, and the conclusion of the story screams "sequels are coming!" And in fact they are - Brooks continues his story in a new trilogy called "The High Druid". The fact that the treasure itself ended up being inaccessible and the mission switched instead to Grianne, makes the entire thing seem like one big introduction to this next series of books.

It was a promising start, and an interesting middle, but this final book is only worth reading in order to finish what you started --and see if Brooks can bring himself to let just one Elf Hunter (ie, nameless extra crew-member) to survive. Don't count on it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The third book in the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy, Morgawr is intended to be both ending and beginning. The Ilse Witch, aided by the mortally injured Walker Boh, has taken the Sword of Shannara in hand and had the shocking truth of her early life and the Morgawr's deception send her into a near-catatonic state.
Meanwhile, the Morgawr, half-mwellret warlock with an eye towards becoming immortal, has descended upon Parkasia with a fleet of airships crewed by soul-eaten walking dead. He's searching for the Ilse Witch, also known as Grianne Ohmsford, and her brother, Bek. They ambush the Jerle Shannara and the Black Moclips, pursuing them into fog and dangerous mountain ranges.
Once again, Terry Brooks has flexed his creative muscle in building a high-jeopardy conclusion to this trilogy, but his prose style is resolutely expository, and causes the story to feel as rushed and hasty as it has from the opening pages of Ilse Witch. Monsters are battled, ships crash, heroics occur, romances bloom, but none of these carry much weight, because the reader can see them coming miles away thanks to Brooks' heavy-handed style.
What really threw me for a loop was reading the preview chapter of Jarka Ruus at the back of the paperback copy I have. Quite astoundingly, the writing style is everything I wish the style in Jerle Shannara had been: subtle, dialogue-rich, intriguing, and leaving plenty to be discovered.
I've since come to the conclusion that the style in Jerle Shannara is a by-product of the type of story Brooks is trying to tell. He's taken a literary snapshot of the Four Lands in the most unsettled period in it's history since the Shadowen occupation of the Heritage series. There is border war in the southland, Walker is the only druid, there are quirky relations between the rest of the races, and all seems tumultuous and chaotic. All reasons for Walker to attempt to seek the knowledge of science and techology of the past that was guarded on Antrax' hard drives.
The story, then, is told as kind of a roguish expedition; fast-paced, with action leading the way rather than introspection and dialogue. The problem with this approach is that the story had so many situations that called for dialogue and subtle writing, I think Brooks was forced to just explain it and get on to the next scene to suit the style he was shooting for.
The other problem is, if he had really gone to town and tried to let the characters tell the story through their actions and discourse, the books would have ended up being Jordan-length, and Terry Brooks just doesn't write 850-900 page books these days. I think the story might have been richer and more rewarding, but I do understand the choices he made.
Overall, I liked the series, and upon reading that excerpt from Jarka Ruus, I understand Jerle Shannara to be almost a bridge series to get to the High Druid books, which promise to be full of political intrigue and more druidical machinations. I, for one, always thought the world of Shannara was at it's best in the early days, when there were political struggles as well as fighting in the trenches. I'm hopeful that the High Druid series will fulfill that promise. In the meantime, though, you could do worse than read the Jerle Shannara series, and if you're a Shannara addict like me, you're going to do it no matter what.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I am an avid fan of Terry Brooks. I have purchased nearly everything he has published in hardback, minus film adaptations, since he published the Sword of Shannara in the late seventies. It is, therefore, with great sorrow that I give this book less than a sterling review.
Overall, the characters of this series are very compelling. It makes reading the epic rather easy and keeps up the readers interest.
The problem is that much of the book is predictable, with some elements being almost condescending. The epic journey of the hero is largely reduced to formula, as if the author needed to find a way to finish the series, but could not figure out a way to say it in a reasonable amount of words.
Some of the character interaction is a bit too stilted, and plot points turn without much motivation or development. As the reader has invested quite a bit of time getting to this point, it is forgiveable to an extent.
If you have already invested time in the first few books of this series, you will do well to finish it off. The ending gives a lot of promise to what will undoubtably unfold in the next book Terry writes (due out this fall). If you have never read a Terry Brook's book (unlikely if you are considering this as your first work), you would do well to skip this, at least for now, and move back to the Sword of Shannara and read all the way through the Talisman of Shannara (the fourth book in the Heritage of Shannara series).
Morgawr is not a back work of Fantasy, but Terry Brooks has done so much better with his series in the past that it is really disappointing that this one had few of the surprises and twists of his earlier works.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
****** SOME SPOILERS AHEAD********************

(although, considering how predictable this story is, I'm not sure they qualify as "spoilers")

ok, be honest.

how many of you avid brook's fans out there actually thought that Kian would make it all the way home, the Morgawr might be a challenge to defeat, or that anything would happen to Bek, Quentin and Rue?

The thing is, Brooks hasn't done anything different with his characters since the last series. The Ohmsford, Leah and the various love interests always survive unbelievably adverse conditions and overwhelming personal challenges, while the superbly trained Elven Hunters die uselessly at a moment's notice. They're basically like an advanced warning system for the rest of the company; when an Elf keels over, something bad is about to happen.

Here's a shocker: Druid's keep secrets!!! I get the point! Considering that this book does not even have a Druid, its sickening how many times this is repeated. And what about Panax? When he didn't do anything in the first book, I thought Brooks was saving him up for something special, but nope. He did nothing more significant than scout out trails for the Rindge to follow. Heck, he didn't even manage to get killed, something Brook's characters generally find very easy to do! The only characters I liked were Ryer and Ahren, as they were huge emotional focal points in the book. But even though Ahren feels he was essentially useless in the voyage, Brooks gives him nothing more than the consolation kill of Cree Bega.

********** NO MORE SPOILERS*************

Characters aside, the series was a servicable fantasy. The mysterious old-world technology is even more interesting when it is described as being so similar to ours. Brook's strength is his locations and ability to describe everything in a more than tangible way; events take on a surreal, subliminal and ephemeral quality. I only wish that he had put in more dialogue to flesh out his characters, rather than rely so heavily on long tracts of soul-searching to explain their dispositions.

In summary, the characters were the usual disappointment, but the conflict of magic vs. science kept this series alive. since antrax was pretty much finished in the last book, this one wears a bit thin.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The first two books in the series were quite good, introducing some interesting characters and several new plot directions that had me hooked. Particularly intriguing was the concept of bringing "new world" magic up against "old world" technology. Brooks has played a little bit with this idea in earlier books, but he seemed willing to tackle the theme head-on here, and had me greatly interested in how it was all going to play out.
I looked forward so much to this concluding volume of the series. I was so excited to find it, and took it right home and began to read. After the first quarter of the book I was beginning to get a bad feeling. After the second quarter of the book, that feeling morphed into sadness. By the three-quarters point I just wanted it to be over.
What a disappointment!
At first I thought I would describe in detail various flaws in logic, continuity, pacing, etc. But why bother? Very briefly, if you read this book you will encounter:
- Incredible coincidences to make the plot work, that will have you groaning;
- Battles where supposedly super-tough foes are dispatched almost as an afterthought, with a flick of a throwing blade or a quick parry/repost;
- "Surprises" that are so obvious you will not believe that none of the characters can see them coming for 200 pages ahead;
- A plot that basically renders most of the first two books moot;
- Seemingly interminable pages of prolixity to wade through while you wait for something to happen;
- "Love story" subplots that will have you cringing in your chair ...
I could go on, but you get the idea.
This book was phoned in. I hate to sound bitter, but after the promise of the first volumes (not to mention some of the other nice work that Mr. Brooks has done) the sorry execution (pun intended) of the story was extra disappointing. Advice: if you read the first two books and want to find out how it all comes out, borrow this at the library and find a few hours to kill, and skim it. Read it fast, so the pain will be brief.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Though some say that it was a remake of previous books, it was not. It had a few similair features, but those things are also the same things that have been happening throughout the entire series. Its always the same thing... in a sense. But you can say that about many series if you look at them right. The only reason people say that about this series is because they are still trying to do the same thing that they were trying to do in the first series. You cant say that this is a remake of the previous series, when in reality it is just a new way for them to try and accomplish a task that has been long forgotten by all but the druids. Now i dont want to ruin the rest for you but it is really a good book and is a little bit more intense than the others in this series. The only problem is that it doesn't have a climax.. HOLD ON! Thats because the whole book is a climax! So if your unsure, go to a library and check it out, it will be worth it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The struggle between science and magic, good and evil comes to a fresh conclusion in the final book in The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy.
Of course, we know that good will triumph. To be critcal on that point is to miss the thrust of the trology entirely. The beauty of fantasy is partly in the journey each character takes toward revelation and maturation. There are the twin themes of redemptioon and forgiveness, and those themes are embraced by loyalty and love.
Without giving anything away, it is obvious this not the end of the Shannara books. Mr. Brooks has provided a glimpse into the world beyond this trilogy - a world yet to be explored.
I can hardly wait.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Once again Terry Brooks has proven he is still one of the top fantasy fiction writers. This trilogy started out slowly but got better with each book. Morgawr finishes it off with a typical Terry Brooks finish. The only negative thing I can say is that he left a few threads hanging. Hopefully he will pick up on those in his next book.
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