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An absolutely brilliant fantasy trilogy that has it ALL...
on August 22, 2007
This particular trilogy is yet another Must-Have in the world of High Fantasy written by easily one of the greatest Fantasy Authors to ever put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard...). For the very first time, flying ships are introduced into the world of Shannara, creating a HUGE new opportunity to explore unknown regions.
In Ilse Witch, we begin with the introduction of some new characters, and one in particular held over from the Heritage series, namely Walker Boh, the latest in a long string of Druids. Character development has always (in my mind at least) been one of Brooks' strongest talents, and is in fine form throughout this series. We discover the Ilse Witch, and to a lesser extent the Morgawr who seems to be the one pulling all the strings here -- but that comes into play more in the 3rd book. The journey, or Voyage in this case, begins rather quickly, and while some have said that this series begins slowly, I say otherwise. I believe the action and sheer adventure starts rather quickly. A large group is assembled to charter a ship to fly across the sea to an area that nobody knows anything about...and as usual, secrets are being kept from almost everyone by Walker (amongst others)...what nobody really understands is what they will find once they get to where they are going. This journey is fraught with danger from virtually the beginning, and yet Brooks provides us with some of the most creative scenes yet in this wonderful world he has imagined.
Antrax picks up where Ilse Witch left off and is in many ways a rather HUGE departure from what you have come to expect from all previous Shannara novels...the reason why is because where the Voyage takes our band of adventurers ends up in a place that seems to be beyond everybody's understanding and includes technology never before seen by anyone in all the Four Lands...technology once thought to have been lost thousands of years ago...technology that also seems to be alive in some form, and yet advanced beyond anything anyone has ever dreamed of. In short, things are WAY different here -- and yet just as satisfying as anything written before by Brooks.
Morgawr is simply put a fantastic ending to this amazing series. The opening chapter is darker than anything previously written in this world and borders on a horror novel -- and yet I loved it. Tension on top of adventure on top of action is ratcheted up a few levels as we discover more as the revelation of who the Ilse Witch is comes to light and takes center stage. Obviously the Morgawr is also featured and after having finished the book I couldn't tell you exactly WHAT the Morgawr is...but who cares? It's relationship with the Ilse Witch becomes a focal point as well as the future of the Druids comes into doubt as well. The Elven Prince comes into his own by the end of Morgawr, too which I found to be quite satisfying.
While the loose ends are tied together nicely, the very last chapter certainly lays open room for the next series, and did not make a whole lot of sense to me as I finished the book, but don't worry, pick up The High Druid of Shannara series and all will be well with the world. All in all, while Tolkien is considered the King of Fantasy, and J.K. Rowling has surprassed them all in sheer popularity world-wide, it is still Terry Brooks that brings me back to the world of Fantasy again and again and I credit his original Sword of Shannara with sparking in me the desire to read way back in '78...and for that alone I owe him years and years of thanks. He has yet to let me down with ANY of his works. I doubt he ever will.