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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Terry Brooks
The last trilogy that I reviewed by Brooks, The Dark Legacy of Shannara, was not my favorite of the Shannara series mainly due to the ending. I felt that much was left hanging and wondered how the events of the final chapters would affect future books.

The High Druid's Blade takes place a century or so after The Dark Legacy series but so far I have seen little...
Published 10 months ago by Library Girl Reads

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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a lightweight chapter in the Shannara saga
An unusually lightweight new chapter in the Shannara saga, set a hundred or so years after the last book.

There's the usual formula with the coming-of-age of uncertain-but-talented youthful characters from legendary families, but other than an intense couple of chapters in the middle, it's cut and dry. (brief spoilers until end of paragraph) I won't recap the...
Published 10 months ago by Omar Siddique


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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a lightweight chapter in the Shannara saga, February 4, 2014
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This review is from: The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara (Hardcover)
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An unusually lightweight new chapter in the Shannara saga, set a hundred or so years after the last book.

There's the usual formula with the coming-of-age of uncertain-but-talented youthful characters from legendary families, but other than an intense couple of chapters in the middle, it's cut and dry. (brief spoilers until end of paragraph) I won't recap the plot, but things like the hero being bored with life, but seeming to barely react to discovering he has the long-lost family magic, or that the Sword of Leah is really a magical artifact. The teenage sister who seems only a little phased to find herself kidnapped and sent to a "dark" bordello. A barely competent evil nemesis. Only the evil witch and the part of the story centered on her have much passion to them. (end of spoilers)

While the naming implies the start of a series, there's no cliffhanger at the end-- the plot is largely tied off. Mostly, things are "too easy"-- few twists and turns, few places where the good guys look like they will lose, no dark force moving secretly against them through its pawns. It reads fast, even too fast-- my reaction was "that's all there is"?

Ever since the "The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara" trilogy (probably after the "High Druid of Shannara"), Brooks' works have been getting...softer. Less captivating, less compelling, less edgy, less interesting. This volume fits into that trend.

I've been reading Shannara books since the early days, and while the world isn't as fresh or unique as it once was, I do still enjoy immersing myself in it, and I was lucky enough to get a pre-publication copy of this volume. Fans will still want to read this quick-and-simple visit into the world of Shannara, but unlike earlier series, I wouldn't recommend this for newcomers-- too much is left unsaid, and without the context of past stories it would seem dull and unimaginative. I'd categorize it as airplane or vacation reading. Recommended for fans only.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New Adventures in the land of Shannara, January 25, 2014
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N. Wallach (Pittsburgh, PA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara (Hardcover)
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Three or four generations have passed in Shannara since the events depicted in the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy and it's time to revisit the lands and see what the current denizens are up to. It appears that not much has changed: the Federation is still in place, with its restrictions on the use of magic; the land of Leah is still verdant farmland; and the Druids still occupy Paranor. Some things have changed: Since the days of Railing, Redding and Mirai, the Ohmsford line seems to have disappeared while the Leah line is currently contained by only two. A brother and sister pair. One thing that is still constant though, is that the Ard Rhys of the Druids is Alphenglow Ellesedil. She is now 150 years old and has managed to live this long by liberal uses of the Druid Sleep.

As is usual with Terry Brooks novels, we have the two young people who are the inheritors of a long line of magic users who are aware of the legends, but have not displayed any way of using it. This changes within the first few chapters, of course, and off we go on quests and adventures and start finding out what's really been going on in the world. Of course, there must be a villain involved who is the current master of the dark arts, and who is plotting to take over the world. In this book, we are introduced to him very early on - his name is Arcannen. Arcannen kidnaps Chrysallin, and her brother - Paxon - takes the family sword from off the mantel and is off to help her escape. As it happens, the family sword is the fabled Sword of Leah and we are off on the romping adventure.

Reading a new Terry Brooks novel is always enjoyable for me. He tends to release his works as trilogies and they have become somewhat formulaic over the years. His writer's skills have not diminished over the years and his descriptions of the people, locations, and events make for very entertaining reading. Therefore, it is never a chore for me to pick up a Brooks novel in anticipation of hours of enjoyment. While this book did not disappoint me, I did notice that I seemed to be flying through it rather more quickly than most. After finishing it, I noticed that I was disenchanted with it and started thinking about why that might be. I've concluded that there were two main reasons for my disappointment.

The most important reason for my disappointment was the lack of subplotting. In a normal Terry Brooks trilogy, the first book introduces the characters, sets the stage, and introduces us to some of the plots that are involved. The first book rarely resolves anything but tends to end in a cliffhanger where the main hero or heroes have to make some kind of decision that will affect their lives in a very meaningful way. The world of Shannara is complex and inhabited by many different peoples who have different aspirations and story arcs. This makes for interesting connections and many storylines within the major events that are portrayed in the books. In this novel, all of that was missing. We are introduced to the main characters and their desires within the first few pages, and it does not appear to be anything else going on in the world that's of any connection with this story. In other words, it was a much simpler plot than any previous book on Shannara. There is no cliffhanger.

The second problem, and it is related to the first, is that the story was very straightforward and lacked the normal convolution of a Terry Brooks Shannara story. The girl gets kidnapped, the boy gets the magic sword and knowing who the kidnapper is, chases him down. Later on, we find that there is a traitor amongst the druids, but there is no attempt to hide who it must be. All of this was way too easy to figure out. About the only surprise in the book was that Arcannen was allowed to escape - but even that is not much of a surprise as otherwise why would there need to be a second volume to the series?

I consider these failings to be rather substantial, and based on that evaluation decided to give this book a three star rating. This book is OK, but it was not as gripping or interesting as any other Shannara book. I do wonder if this simplification will carry through in the next novels?
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For the most loyal Brooks fans, April 1, 2014
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Neal Reynolds (Indianapolis, Indiana) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara (Hardcover)
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It's sad watching a top fantasy writer such as Terry Brooks on the decline. It happens to us all. This isn't a good book and it pains me to say it. I'm not about to trash it, and truly loyal fans will read it and find it worth reading. But it's not a book for those new to the author. Read his earlier books and if you become enamored of his writing as many of us have, then give this one a try after you've read most of his earliet and better works.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Terry Brooks, February 20, 2014
This review is from: The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara (Hardcover)
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The last trilogy that I reviewed by Brooks, The Dark Legacy of Shannara, was not my favorite of the Shannara series mainly due to the ending. I felt that much was left hanging and wondered how the events of the final chapters would affect future books.

The High Druid's Blade takes place a century or so after The Dark Legacy series but so far I have seen little carry over from the events of those books. I enjoyed this tale of Paxon Leah although parts were fairly predictable as it follows Brooks usual formula.

It is important to note that this is NOT the first book in a new trilogy but instead the first of three stand alone Shannara novels that will have loose connections. This does change the reading experience somewhat as longtime Shannara fans are used to Brooks writing in short series and having endings that often transition directly into the next book. Instead The High Druid's Blade has a single main quest and the action is contained to a smaller cast of characters. Now I am curious to see how much cross over there will be in the other two books and if either of those will answer some of the questions that remain from The Dark Legacy of Shannara series.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Best Chapter in the Series, March 15, 2014
This review is from: The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara (Hardcover)
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The quality of the Shannara series has been on the decline for some time now, but never more so than in this latest outing. Maybe it's because the Leah family has never been all that interesting to me in the previous novels and this one focuses in on them, or maybe it's just that the books are the same story. The difference between this book and the previous novels is that I struggled to finish it. I probably won't search out the next novels in this series.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shannara Light ~, February 18, 2014
This review is from: The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara (Hardcover)
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Like drinking light beer - this novel seems good at first, then you realize you finished it and are left quite unsatisfied. It's thin plot and meager characterization are fine for this standalone novel - but for anyone even casually familiar with Brooks' other Shannara novels, this is weak. I blame the publisher of course. I received an advance copy and the publisher section has notes such as: 'YA Appeal", "New Packaging", "The perfect jumping-in place for new readers" and so on. Not that it is bad to try and attract new readers to a stale franchise (yes I said it - and it's true - I've been a fan since the first Shannara novel which I read in the 80s!). The issue I continue to have is that Brooks might be milking Shannara too much. I understand he's crafted this lovely world, but for seasoned Shannara fans, there is little mystery anymore. We know the history, we know the lore, perhaps it's time to craft a fascinating new world?

I would also point out that Brooks seems to have fallen into a very safe writing style with his last few novels. I think his best work - both plot and prose - was in the Scions of Shannara tetralogy. There have been several good series since, but I don't think any of his subsequent novels have reached the heights of that series.

Still, it is an appealing novel for fans, if for nothing more than a quick, easy, and enjoyable read. And it is enjoyable. Three stars is NOT a bad rating in my opinion, but in comparing this to his other works, with four stars being the average Brooks novel - this falls somewhat short. Hence the rating. And for newcomers to the genre, they will find an easy to digest tale with typical archetypes and flat characterization.

I expect Del Rey told Brooks to target a young adult market to try and draw in new fans - so I don't fault Brooks. He is a terrific author and I have read some fantasy novels of real genius from this guy. If you're new to his works, this is worth checking out. If you're a fan already, read it and just keep in mind it's not one of his great works.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars As a long and loyal reader of Terry Brooks over ..., August 1, 2014
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As a long and loyal reader of Terry Brooks over the years, I am deeply grieved to have to say that the quality of his writing has seriously diminished and the last 3 books are complete wastes of money. It appears that Terry has run out of ideas and is that most of what he writes now are rehashes of earlier works. This was most pronounced in Blood Fire Quest and Wards of Faeri which were not quite and word for word rehashs of the Wishsong of Shannara but were very close. Terry, in my opinion, would wait until he has a new plot and takes the time to outline it before trying to write. Most of his recent works give the impression that he is under contract to Del Ray Books to churn out a book every year instead of waiting until he has something worthwhile to write about. A new Landover book or books would be appreciated.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever use of switching POV, July 28, 2014
This review is from: The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara (Hardcover)
Paxon Leah runs an airfreight business. He makes enough to support his family but feels unsatisfied with his life and wonders if there isn’t more out there for him in the world. He constantly worries about his reckless and wild younger sister Chrys, and his fears come to life when she is kidnapped by the sorcerer Arcannen, who seeks to use her as a bargaining chip, as Paxon has something that he wants.

The plot is fairly typical for a fantasy adventure novel. To save his sister, Paxon discovers powers that he did not know he had, receives training from the magical Druids, and confronts the dark sorcerer. Despite this, I enjoyed the book and found it very well written. One aspect I found particularly interesting was how the point of view changed between characters, even showing those of the villains. This gives a lot of insight into the various characters and thus the plot.

As opposed to most fantasy villains, Arcannen is not unrealistically powerful compared to everyone else. In fact, he is not even significantly more powerful than an experienced Druid. He relies more on strategy and wits and readily flees from combat if he feels he cannot win, which I found really cool. I also found Paxon to be a likeable protagonist. He is kindhearted and does not like to put his friends in danger. He does act recklessly at times and without much thought at some points, which does consequently puts his friends in danger and even indirectly leads to a death. However, his behavior is understandable, as he's a young man, and most of his reckless acts are efforts to save his sister.

While I have not personally read any other books in Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, I did not feel lost at all while reading this book. The High Druid's Blade does a good job portraying the parts of the world in the Shannara series that are applicable to it. Still, if you have any interest in reading more Shannara books, I would recommend reading them to get a better understanding of the world.

Review by Austin
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mission Accomplished - this is an enjoyable adventure worthy of the Shannara title., April 17, 2014
By 
Chris "Okie" (Bountiful, UT United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara (Hardcover)
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As many friends and regular readers know, I've been a fan of Terry Brooks since I was introduced to Sword, Wishsong and Elfstones books in Junior High School. I devoured them and found a taste for his style of fantasy adventure. For many years after that I regularly read each of his books as they were released and eagerly looked forward to the next volume. In recent years, I haven't been as diligent at keeping on top of his yearly (sometimes twice yearly) releases but I still have a fair amount of nostalgia towards Brook and Shannara and I am indebted to his books for helping to respark a love of reading that threatened to wane a little through middle school.

In his latest book, the High Druid's Blade, we're introduced to new characters and new plot but it does have a large sense of familiarity. The book is set within the Federation reign and druid rebirth sometime after the High Druid and Dark Legacy series. The book is listed as part of the Defenders of Shannara series but I've read that the intent is to have 3 stand alone novels in the series rather than a serial story. So, as you might expect, this novel wraps things up with moderate tidiness.

As is common in other Shannara stories, the central characters in this book are descendants of a powerful family. This time, it's the Leah family. Even though the Leah's have been involved in the novels since the first Shannara book, I believe this is the first time a Leah was the central character rather than a supporting actor helping out the Ohmsfords or others.

We are introduced to teenage brother and sister Paxton and Chrysallin Leah. Paxon spends his days managing the family air shipping business while Chrys apparently spends her days trying to get into trouble by being a flirty little teenage troublemaker. For those unfamiliar with the family heritage, Brooks gives us a little background and points readers to the heirloom sword of Leah which, many years ago, held mystical powers and helped slay demons and turn the courses of numerous battles. Today it hangs as a reminder of days gone by.

Once we're adequately appraised of the mundane lifestyle of the Leah's things are thrown into upheaval. Chrys's friend rushes over to Paxon to reveal that Chyrs has just made a stupid bet in a dice game and gambled away her freedom to a stranger. Paxon races to the pub to get details and help pay the debt but instead finds Arcannen, the man who won Chrys. He shows Paxon, from a distance, that Chrys is very willingly boarding his airship bound for the big city where she'll serve in his house of ill repute. Paxon tries to fight the situation but cannot. Instead, he rushes home, grabs some supplies and the sword of Leah and sets of to free his sister.

As you might expect, Arcannen is not your ordinary businessman looking to add another harlot to his bordello. Rather, he hoped Paxon would come for his sister and bring the sword. And yet, in spite of an elaborate scheme, Paxon somehow manages to free his sister and return home. While there was some fun action in the escape scene and there was magic involved, the whole thing felt way too lucky to be believable.

Setting believability aside, Paxon returns home and is approached by the druids who want him to come and wield the sword of Leah in a sort of bodyguard position. Since he was disatisfied with the airship business anyway, he agrees and leaves his home and family, exacting a promise from Chrys that she'll stay safe and not make any stupid decisions. He spends the next many months training and learning how to use a sword properly and how to hone the innate magic of the family heriloom. Naturally Chrys is not safe and Arcannen makes an appearance again causing Paxon to set off on a quest, this time with the help of the druids though still largely on his own. There are a few moderate twists and turns in the plot though even those had a twinge of familiarity as I think back to earlier Shannara books.

The plot was relatively quick and fluid with solid adventure elements and fair character building. In my experience, I've generally found the psychological interactions between the characters to be stronger than some of the story arcs in Brooks' books. This time, they felt pretty balanced at the detriment of the character building. Sadly they felt a little watered down and static. I definitely enjoyed the book for the nostalgia and for the fun adventure that always permeates the Shannara story. But I missed some of the depth and meat that's been present in Brooks' work of the past. Compared with some of his more epic stories (such as the Genesis or Heritage series) or his more contemporary Knight & Void stories, this book felt a little more flat or maybe more "bubble-gum"-y. A night light adventure but not much more too it. That said, it did accomplish its goal. It entertained me and I had fun reading it. Even when believability was stretched I was still drawn in enough to enjoy the story and accept the little hiccups. So not the best Brooks out there, but still an adventure worthy of the Shannara title.

***
3 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointing, August 1, 2014
By 
Dan N (Bellevue WA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara (Hardcover)
After reading all Terri Brooks' books I was eagerly awaiting for the Shannara series continuation.
I am totally disappointed by the book. I will try to be as generic as possible in my comments without concrete examples, but they are plentiful throughout the book.
First of all, the manner of writing regressed and became immature. It does not look like something created by a seasoned writer. In many places the manner of writing reminds me of the "Magic Tree House" style, you know, the book series for elementary school kids. The characters are shallow, the dialogues are simple and for whatever reason, they need to state the obvious. The author should assume a level of intelligence from the readers so they can infer on their own w/o over-explaining.
Second, the plot is thin and shallow without any real suspense. The book ends flat and I don't feel any anxiousness to wait for the sequels.
Third, almost everything in the book is predictable. And in the cases they are not, the characters announce their "deviously cunning plans" well in advance to kill any trace of suspense when the events unfold.

I still don't understand how Terri had pulled this off. One could almost think this book was actually written by someone else. Even the first books in the series were better written and had more substance. Had this been the first book in the series I wouldn't have read any of his other books.
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The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara
The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara by Terry Brooks (Hardcover - July 8, 2014)
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