Angel Fire East
marks the close of Terry Brooks's Nest Freemark-John Ross saga, which began with 1997's Running with the Demon
. After a long layover in Seattle for the middle book, Knight of the Word
, the fantasy-meets-modernity action returns to Nest's native Hopewell, where once again Nest and John must face off against the Void, this time in the form of ancient demon Findo Gask, who favors a black-clad evil preacher getup for his menacing needs.
Brooks's well-realized and likable cast from the previous books is back, from Nest (now 29) to Ross (haggard as ever) to Pick (still just a few inches tall) and even grown-up versions of Nest's childhood friends from Running, including Bennett, now a junkie with child. Of course, Findo Gask has assembled a creepy little Legion of Doom to harry these nice folks: a giant albino demon; a formless, flesh-eating ur'droch; and a knife-wielding Orphan-Annie-gone-bad named Penny Dreadful. And Angel Fire's main plot thread is even compelling: John Ross has caught a shape-changing, wild-magic creature of enormous power, a gypsy morph, that he and Nest must discover how to turn to the Word before Gask and his crew can capture it for the Void.
But as with Knight of the Word, wooden pacing and unconvincing transitions keep this tale from rising to the level of Brooks's previous masterworks, such as the excellent Shannara and Landover series. If you've read the first two books, it's certainly worth seeing off your old friends in Angel Fire East. But if you're--heaven forbid--new to Terry Brooks, check out his earlier work, or even his very capable novelization of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. --Paul Hughes
From Publishers Weekly
Fighting supernatural evil is taxing work, and Brooks's third novel of humanity's stand against the demons of the Void shows hints of battle fatigue. Fifteen years have passed since the events chronicled in Running with the Demon (1997), but neither Knight of the Word John Ross nor former Olympic runner Nest Freemark seem much changed by their encounters with predatory devils who incarnate modern social ills: he is still the reluctant hero tasked with preventing the Void's incursion into human affairs, and she remains the righteous heroine suppressing her demon-tainted powers. The plot follows a pattern similar to A Knight of the Word (1998), beginning with Ross's tormenting vision of the future that will occur if he fails to keep a gypsy morphAa shapeshifting bundle of "wild magics" with potential to become a weapon for good or evilAfrom falling into demon hands. Ross seeks Nest's help in Hopewell, Ill., a hometown of Norman Rockwell blissfulness primed for demonic devastation. There the morph changes into a young boy, which makes him vulnerable to the schemes of avuncular fiend Findo Gask and provides Brooks with a focus for exploring the importance of parental responsibility and mother love. This predictable dark fantasy springs a few surprises at its end, but the long parade of characters from the earlier installments gives it the feel of a family reunion one endures out of obligation rather than enthusiasm. Like Nest, this novel keeps pace, but a change of direction is in order for the series. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.