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Running With the Demon (The Word and the Void Trilogy, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – May 27, 1998
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From the Inside Flap
In a sleepy steel-mill town, the ultimate battle between Good and Evil is about to begin . . .
Sinnissippi Park, in Hopewell, Illinois, has long hidden a mysterious evil, locked away from humankind by powers greater than most could even imagine. But now the malevolent creatures that normally skulk in the shadows of the park grow bolder, and old secrets hint at a violent explosion.
The brewing conflict draws John Ross to Hopewell. A Knight of the Word, Ross is plagued by nightmares that tell him someone evil is coming to unleash an ancient horror upon the world. Caught between them is fourteen-year-old Nest Freemark, who senses that something is terribly wrong but has not yet learned to wield the budding power that sets her apart from her friends.
Now the future of humanity depends upon a man haunted by his dreams and a gifted young girl--two souls who will discover what survives when hope and innocence are shattered forever . . .
From the Back Cover
"FABULOUS . . . A breathtaking run of near-catastrophes and revelations . . . His fans should embrace it as eagerly as they have The Sword of Shannara."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Running with the Demon is by far the best of Terry Brooks's many wonderful novels: darker, starker, classically written, and with a brand new mythos to fuel its contemporary plot. I couldn't put it down."
"A darkly tinged contemporary fantasy."
--San Francisco Chronicle
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I can't say that I believe Brooks is one of the great authors of our time. As a matter of fact, certain aspects of his writing drive me crazy; he uses the word "anew" a LOT! One thing I really do like about his writing is that he can effectively tell a horror story without spending 3 pages describing the blood and guts. He can write about a moment of affection between two people without dedicating a whole chapter to gratuitous sex. He can get through a 400 page novel with almost no swearing!
Something about this story is disturbingly real. It takes place in the present day, in an ordinary community, with normal everyday people. There is an ongoing war between good and evil that is invisible to all but a few. There are creatures of magic who secretly live among humans. There is also an aspect of a very dark post apocalyptic future which is the result of the war between the Word and the Void. The war being fueled by negative human emotion, greed, selfishness, wrath... In other words, Brooks has envisioned a future for which we (YES, I MEAN US, IN REAL LIFE) are laying the groundwork.
This book was undoubtedly a slow starter. I attribute it simply to the fact that it is a new story, with new characters, new places, new ideas and it required a lot of plot building. Fortunately, it does pick up. Other reviewers criticized that the story was basic, and predictable. Perhaps so! But still, there is something awkwardly thought provoking about this story... beyond the simplicity of the plot, the way it flirts with reality. Long after reading this book I'm still thinking about people's attitudes and behaviors, as well as all the evil in the world, and what kind of future we actually have to look forward to.
Could it be that we are already smack in the middle of this war between The Word and The Void?
Brooks does a nice job of capturing the feel of a community in turmoil, and the casting of the story as being a struggle between the Word (Order) and Void (Chaos) resonates in today's troubled world. The concept that the forces of the Void are constantly pushing ordinary people to do things they wouldn't normally do, and that all it takes is reaching a certain tipping point for the Void to win, is something I think that we all can relate to.
The only downside is that there is a fairly large amount of setup in this book, and may not be enough "action" for some fans of traditional fantasy (which is the category that many of the other Shannara books fall into). In addition, the very setting that I mention above as a strength is so different from the first books of the Shannara series that fans of those early works may not be fans of the Word & Void series.