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on April 8, 2017
It has been many years since I read a Shannara book, bit this felt like coming home. Maybe this break blinded me from seeing the criticisms raised in other reviews, but I fully enjoyed this book.

The story starts off with Aphenglow Elessedil, granddaughter of the current Elven king and more importantly a Druid, finding a lost diary of an Elven princess, from thousands of years ago. In the diary, the princess describes how she lost the Elfstiones, except for the blue ones. Aphen takes this discovery to Kyber Elessedin, current leader of the druids. Kyber determines that Elfstones must be found, sending druids to look for help and Aphen back to Arbolon to try and look for more information. Injured from several attacks while in Arbolon, Aphen is sidelined from the quest for searching for the missing Elfstones.

One main character introduced later in book is Drust Chazhul, the leader of the Human Federation and a fairly two dimensional character, especially for a protagonist. He is Machiavellian at best or pure evil at worse. He plans to take over the Four Lands, starting with the elimination of the Druids.

Once all the players are introduced and set into motion, things quickly spiral downwards. I’ll need to read the rest of the trilogy to find the upswing.
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on March 9, 2017
I'm re-reading this series and this is another good book in the series with only a few minor issues. I believe the author has written himself into a corner and while I really enjoy the story, I think he needed to handle these few elements better.

I really like seeing what's become of the druids and all the call backs to previous books, but like I said, there are a few things that I would have like to have seen done better. I'll try to talk about these without giving anything away. For one, the airships are cool and he's done a good job with them so far. I've always had a problem with this series concept of distance. They can basically travel from one side of the country to the other in about 3 days. Granted, from what we know now about where the four lands are located, it's probably not that big, but it should take longer than that. I live in a fairly small town and it would take me at least 3-4 hours to walk at a moderate pace from one side to the other. I guess you have to look at it from the perspective that he might be cutting out boring travel scenes, but it still bothers me. Now he has these air ships that allow him to travel further faster and it's seemed to have caused him problems. They use them to flit around and have their adventures, but when he needs to split the group up, he comes up with what is basically a rock wall of prison bars their ship can't get through. Based on earlier writing, they should have been able to fly over anything that could reasonably support itself in this geological formation. It was a weak excuse to separate the groups and cause some of them hardships.

In the same vein and at about the same time, they send one character back to the first group for no good reason, other than that he'll be needed by the other group later in the story. As far as the logic of the story goes, it was stupid to send him away. I could have accepted it if they'd given some flimsy reason for it, but it was basically do it because I said so.

There were other places where he handled issues like that well. I don't think I'll spoil anything by telling anyone that there is an Ohmsford involved in this set. They have been present in every set in this series so far, along with druids, moor cats, and the Leah family. The only problem is that there is really no discernible reason for them to be there. In the other sets, there was an absolutely imperative reason that they be there. That's not the case, here, however. They become very useful later, but there is no reason for them at the beginning. However, the author does a good job of giving a very acceptable reason for them to be there. You'll find that out when you read it.

The only other thing I noticed was that some of the foreshadowing was a little on the nose. Kind of like when you're watching a horror movie and they're headed into the scary house. One character is scared and the other teases them, saying "Don't loose your head over it, ya chicken". You know that their head is coming off before the end of the movie. I saw 2-3 places where it was that bad in this book. I'm not usually one to catch that kind of thing, so there may be several other places where it was well done and I missed it.

So having said all that, it might sound like I didn't like the book, but I really did. It's a good story that I didn't want to put down. It gives you more great characters and awesome callbacks. While you're reading, those things I mentioned barely register to you. I'm glad it's out there and I'm going to finish the series. I just hope those things disappear and he gets back on point with the great writing he's done previously.
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on July 13, 2016
I was introduced to the Shannara books as a teenager, and I can honestly say it was a transformative experience, maybe even more so than "The Lord of the Rings," which I had to become an adult to appreciate properly. I have about, oh, 9 of Brooks's books sitting on my shelves, all looking very well-thumbed. But then I moved on and haven't read any of his stuff for a while. Every time I look at those books I think maybe I should re-read them, but then I worry that I won't like them as much as I did then, and a key adolescent experience will be forever tainted for me.

So it was with some reluctance and trepidation that I began "Wards of Faerie," which I picked up somewhat at random when I saw it was on sale. Things, I soon discovered, have moved on in the Four Lands since I last visited (airships?! Who saw that coming?!), and this book is both almost too familiar and yet too different than the beloved books of my teenage years, and yet, and yet...

And yet I zoomed through the entire thing in a couple of sittings, totally enthralled and unable to turn away. I still love the Four Lands, it turns out, and Brooks still retains his old storytelling magic. No, he isn't the most elegant prose stylist, but somehow his fantasy worlds are so vivid, his characters so compelling, and his storylines so gripping that I was utterly hooked anyway. This book is a bit more mature than a lot of the earlier books I read--there is less focus on adolescent boys crashing around in the woods (although that element is still certainly there) and more about grown women searching through archives--but I'm a bit more mature too, so that's all fine.

Bottom line: I'm not sure this is quite the classic that "Sword of Shannara" was (what could be?), but if you're a Brooksophile like I am, chances are good you'll enjoy this book, and if you've just discovered Brooks, it may turn you into a fan.
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on August 23, 2012
As others have mentioned, this is a quick read and is shorter than some of the original novels set in the Four Lands. It seemed rushed and the action was painted out in broad strokes. For example, danger is emphasized by having a nameless character die but we are told this instead of shown it. My biggest problem was that many story lines are similar to earlier works. It's hard to discuss this issue without spoiling the book; however, I already knew many of the "shocking" turn of events that were to come. Here, Brooks is spelling everything out way before the action takes place. For example, whenever the young party members feel uneasy about something it's a clear indication that something bad is about to happen. Nevertheless, the characters do not change their mind or even voice their discomfort. If you've read his other series then you will find yourself experiencing deja vu as the characters go on quests and experience adventures that have come before. Expect to hear about the wishsong, elfstones, Ellcrys, Forbidding, druids, Paranor, Federation, and bad Elven leaders.

One final word: I've been having some difficulty finding good books that engage in storytelling. That's why I am leaving this review. My hope is that other people will start leaving more honest reviews so the reader knows what he/she is buying. For example, I was disappointed with David A. Wells' series even though it has more reviews than this book. However, I then read Stephen King's Wind Through a Keyhole and I remembered how great good storytelling can be.
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The Dark Legacy of Shannara is the latest series of Shannara novels by Terry Brooks, which are set in the far-future in a time where magic has been rediscovered after so many thousands of years of human and technological dominance. This period of morally unchecked technological breakthroughs of our future leads eventually to the "Great Wars" wherein all of civilization, with the exception of those parts preserved by magic, or lost technology, were obliterated.

Over the thousands of years in-universe since the end of those wars, the adventures mentioned and outright chronicled in the various Shannanra novels occurred. In the latest trilogies (chronologically) of books, technology has started to resurface, and magic is again distrusted. The fears of those who recall to mind the holocausts of the Great Wars are either ignored, or mocked as reactionary.

You see, magic is not trusted because it is sometimes hereditary, and sometimes not; but always/ unpredictable. Most people have none, and those who do have it tend to be able to use it powerfully. They can not be controlled, and thus it is not a democratic source of power. Of course, neither is height, strength, intellect, athletic ability, or so on. But the logic of the complaints against magic and magic-users in-universe don't really matter much to the demagogues who are trumpeting them, and thereby sowing discontent.

It is the above dark time that this latest trilogy takes place, and in a clever act of parallels, Wards of Faerie, the first book of Dark Legacy, hearkens back to a time ages past, before the dominance of man, when the Forbidding was not yet in place, and the creatures of "good faerie" (who would become the mortal elves) were at war with the creatures of evil faerie (who would eventually be trapped in the Forbidding).

A young Elven Druid, Aphenglow Ellessedill, finds a diary entry from a young girl who lived during the time of faerie. How this entry, and the other records, are preserved for thousands of years is not explained. One has to suppose it is due to the innate magic, much as they despise it and pretend it doesn't exist, of the Elven nation.

Anyways, this young girl mentions how a "Darkling boy", i.e., a creature of evil faerie in service to the Void (the Devil-figure of the novels) seduced her and stole the Elfstones. As a side-note, the Word mentioned periodically in the Shannara novels is the God-figure of the novels. When Aphen returns to Paranor with the diary, as well as news of near-fatal attacks on herself, in tow, she starts a chain of events that will decide the fate of the Four Lands. You see, there are other evils on the horizon, and many of those who go out to accompany the Ard Rhys (the head Druid) Khyber Ellessedill, will be in mortal danger. But this is necessary, as it quickly becomes apparent that there is a threat much greater than the magic of the lost Elfstones.

This book was unique in that it is a post-Sword of Shannara novel where the main focus was not on the various heirs of the Shannara bloodline, but on others, including their distant relatives, the Ellessedills. This is not to say that the Ohsmfords, the name of the Shannara descendants, were not there. The twin brothers, and heirs to the power of the wishsong, Redden and Railing Ohmsford are two of the many protagonists, along with Mirai Leah. Mirai is the first female Leah protagonist, and both brothers are madly in love with her to boot. It's unique and different from the other post-Sword books, and this is good as it "shakes" things up a bit. It makes things not quite as formulaic.

Right now, I am kind of disliking the darker and grimmer nature of this book so far. It seems to hearken to some of the darker Game of Thrones-esque fantasy that may be certain folks' cup of tea, but definitely is not mine. I hope that what has traditionally been a fantasy series where folks die but the good guys have great victories in the end, doesn't degenerate into the crapsack world type of fantasy of these darker and edgier stories. I hear promising reviews of the last book that make this not quite so dark, so we shall see.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I'm already enjoying book two, Bloodfire Quest. Any fan of the Shannara books in particular, or epic fantasy in general, should pick this one up.
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on December 20, 2012
Much has been said about how this book contains many (clichéd?) elements of a classic Shannara novel. Unhappy Chosen, distrusted Druids, obligated Ohmsfords, etc. This I don't mind so much, because I was looking forward to getting back into the Four Lands and enjoying one of Brooks' standard quest-based yarns. Some of the strongest elements of Shannara books past can be found here: an ancient and mysterious magic, unknown terrain and the new and positively frightening monsters that inhabit it. There are faint echoes of some of my favorite Shannara journeys into unknown lands (Wishsong, Druid, Elf Queen), but unfortunately there isn't enough time spent on the adventure, and the story in general suffers due to some weak characters.

While the Ohmsford boys' dialogue and general role in this story are fairly mind-numbing, I have more of an issue with most of the Druids. Pretty much across the board, they're weak and not terribly smart. These supposed masters of magic are a far cry from the powerful Allanon and other previous magic users Brooks has written about. They're childish, aren't particularly resourceful, are easily ambushed, have trouble holding their own against uninspired enemies and seem to be outwitted by not-so-cunning plans.

Perhaps they're written this way on purpose, to show that the Druids have a long way to go to resurrect their past glory. Unfortunately, this results in a cast of heroes that's more difficult to root for and is far from inspiring.

There was certainly some potential here, and I hope that the sequel will fulfill that potential. Despite the mild disappointment this time around, I'm looking forward to the next book.
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on January 6, 2013
Every venture I have taken into Shannara of late has been one full of trepidation and low expectations. There have been quite a few highs and lows with Brooks over the past few years, but seemed the magic of Shannara had run out after the completion of the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy. It's been 10 long years since the end of that trilogy, 35 years since publication of The Sword of Shannara, but Brooks has shown he still has what it takes to write an exciting Shannara novel.

Things start off according to the Shannara formula, a druid discovers some long lost magic and then goes about collecting a bunch of characters with familiar last names (Ohmsford, Leah, etc.) so that they can go on an adventure to retrieve the long lost magic for the greater good. It is a formula that has served Brooks very well over the course of thirty five years and it appears as though this venture will be no different. But then you start to notice things, little things, small subversions of his established formula. Things like an obsessive compulsive Ard Rhys whose lack of foresight borders on the incompetent. Things like brutal deaths and incapacitations, and a dynamic political world enacting machinations on multiple fronts. There is so much scope, so much more going on here compared to what we are first presented on the surface, and compared to what we have been presented with over the past ten years.

The biggest difference, but perhaps the most subtle difference, is the premise of the main quest. This is not a journey in response to a big bad guy threatening a small valley, this is a journey to retrieve an ancient magic because of a deep seated fear that it might be misused if found. "Maybe we should just leave it alone" is a phrase that gets repeated a lot throughout the book, but the druids just cannot let it go, and this single minded tunnel vision creates fractures and rifts in relationships all over the Four Lands which may not be recoverable. The druids play protagonist and antagonist in the same book. They do what they do for noble reasons, but in this book you can finally appreciate the point of view of all the other races in the Four Lands - you can understand why the secretive actions of druids only serves to fuel further distrust. It feels... authentic.

That said, despite the excellent execution, this book does not stray too far from the Brooks tried and tested formula. The characters are typically plucky and courageous, but at least you feel like they have more realistic motivations. Unfortunately, like a lot of first books in a Shannara trilogy, Wards of Faerie is a sacrificial lamb designed to set up the rest of the Trilogy. The self contained subplots were very good and well resolved, and I can see where the rest of the trilogy is going (which has me quite excited), but the setup and exposition is still just typical Brooks setup and exposition, and it makes this book seem pale compared to the promise of what is to come.
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on November 9, 2012
I've been reading Terry Brooks's work since either 1985 or 1986, when I saw "The Elfstones of Shannara" at a bookstore, liked the cover, and then bought "The Sword of Shannara" when I discovered that "Elfstones" was a sequel. I don't think anything since the prequel novel "The First King of Shannara" has compared to the earliest books, and I recommend that any new reader start from the beginning with "The Sword of Shannara." I think doing that would give a new reader more of a feeling of gradually discovering the Four Lands and the world Brooks has created. I also recommend starting with the earlier books because I think they're better-written and they have more depth to them. For prospective buyers unfamiliar with Brooks's work, he typically releases his stories in trilogy format over a period of a year or two (with a few exceptions for the four-volume "Heritage of Shannara" set, the one-volume "First King" prequel I mentioned before, and the two-volume "Legends of Shannara" set). Over time, the trilogies have gotten noticeably shorter and they're to the point where I really think most of them could just be released as single books. My Kindle tells me "Wards of Faerie" is 364 pages. To me, that's a short book. If the other two volumes in this trilogy will be the same length, then you're looking at just over 1,000 pages. To me it makes more sense just to release all that as a single volume, but I suppose that means the publisher would be unhappy because they couldn't charge as much. Anyway, Brooks's earlier books were considerably longer and gave you more time to delve into the story before the end rolled around.

With all that said, I think "Wards of Faerie" was more enjoyable than some of the other recent Shannara books, but I'm not entirely sure why. Some of the other reviews have noted that several elements of this story seem either formulaic or recycled. I don't want to include spoilers in this review, so I will merely say that I agree with them. I think, based on the way this book ended, that the second volume will include plot elements that basically go right back to some of the earliest Shannara books, but that they'll be tied together with the storyline from the "High Druid of Shannara" series. I found myself saying, on multiple occasions, "Didn't he already explore this in [fill in book title]?" The answer is usually "Yes," and the long-time reader has to have faith that Brooks will resolve the story in a different way.

So why did I give this four stars when I've just made some negative comments? Because in some ways this book reads to me like it's a summation of the Shannara stories. I have no idea whether Terry Brooks intends this to be the final trilogy in the internal chronology, but it kind of felt that way to me as I read. I felt like there were a lot of references thrown in that would reward long-time readers and that might make the readers see everything from the past 35 years' worth of Shannara books all coming together at the end of things. (Sort of like how the last episode of "Seinfeld" pulled together the whole series, I suppose.) The other thing that kept me going was that as I read, I began to get the sense that maybe the characters might be put through the wringer more than has been the case in Brooks's other recent work. I'm not really sure yet if that's going to be the case, but I feel like he's at least set it up for that better than in some of the other recent material.

Because I'm a long-time reader, I think I can see pretty clearly where this story is headed and how the "cliffhanger" ending has to tie in with the other major storyline involving the "good guys." Terry Brooks has shown over the years that he can throw in a totally unexpected plot twist when he wants to, however, and so I hope that proves to be the case in the next volume.

One last comment: One of the protagonists is named "Railing." I know fantasy characters often have weird names, but "Railing"? Really?

So, in sum, I recommend this for long-term readers who want something that might help tie together all the Shannara stories we've read over the years. New readers, however, would be best-advised to start at the beginning.

Edited to add: Something I forgot to mention is that at the end of the book there's a new map of the Four Lands that incorporates many of the places that have been introduced over the years. Only problem is, if you view it on a Kindle it's hard to read and there doesn't appear to be a high-rez version online that I can find (apparently because the artist was selling signed copies, so understandably the goal was to avoid piracy). I tried viewing on the Kindle iPhone app because there it's in color and it allows zooming in, but unfortunately when it's zoomed it becomes grainy. There are also some diagrams of Paranor and the like that are easier to read on the Kindle than the new map is, but I'm sure some readers might have trouble with those too. I think the limitations of e-readers in handling maps can be frustrating and I'd love to see Amazon, authors, and publishers collaborate to come up with some sort of solution to this problem, perhaps by giving e-book customers a link to a higher-rez copy of illustrations online somewhere.
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on September 17, 2012
Terry Brooks has made a strong debut in his new "Dark Legacy of Shannara" series.

Thousands of years earlier, an elven girl named Aleia fell in love with a darkling boy from the Void. However, circumstances led to their parting, and the darkling boy left with all of the elven elfstones save for the seeking stones, which Aliea could use to find him. Aleia kept all of her inner thoughts in a diary which went undiscovered for all of those thousands of years until Aphenglow Elessedil, an elven Druid, discovered the diary and its contents.

Disturbed at what she had found, Aphenglow took the diary to Paranor, the ancient Druid keep. There, the other Druids, led by Ard Rhys Khyber Elessedil, determine that the missing elfstones must be found before it's too late and they fall into the wrong hands. Khyber then visits the Hadeshorn to speak with Allanon's shade. Allanon, the long-dead Druid, tells Khyber that she must take up a quest to locate the missing stones. Upon returning, Khyber assembles the remaining Druids along with Redden and Railing Ohmsford to begin their quest.

But, just as Allanon predicted, other forces are at work as well, and these forces could lead to the downfall of the Druids and Paranor.

I've read all of Terry Brooks' previous books, and I thoroughly enjoyed "The Wards of Faerie". As usual with Brooks, the character development is strong, and their personalities rapidly emerge. It's easy to root for the Druids as they battle against Drust Chazhul and the rest of the Federation army. The story is fast-paced and leads nicely into the second book, due out in the Spring.

Read "The Wars of Faerie" and get set for another epic fantasy from Terry Brooks. Highly recommended.
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on September 2, 2012
Like many others I have been reading the works of Terry Brooks for several years. Wards of Faerie is Terry's newest installment of a long and entertaining series of books. If you have read all the books up until now you will understand the basic concepts the book sets forth. If this is your first Terry adventure you may at times feel lost.

I personally loved this novel. The characters are true to their ancestors. The Ohmsfords twins, Redden and Railing, are country folk that are destined for bigger things. This has always been the case of the Ohmsfords except maybe in the case of Grianne. The twins have the power of The Wishsong a powerful magic passed down the generations that allows things to happen through the voice. This may sound like a dream come true for lovers of musicals, but this is a different type of magic entirely. The twins are asked to join a crew of adventurers, including the high druid of of the 4th Druid Order, Kyber Elessedil. They set out on a quest to recover a long lost magic. Magic thought lost several centuries past. It is unclear what the magic does, only that it once existed and that there are 4 sets of three stones and are usable only by the elves.

As this is the first book in a trilogy it would be expected to be mostly character development and scene setting. While this does take place the book is fairly fast paced and full of action. Many character with surnames Brooks fans will recognize are introduced and adds a touch of nostalgia to the story. I found the book to be very entertaining and hard to put down. For the first time Terry will be releasing this trilogy within a one year time period. Generally readers would have to wait a full year for the next novel to be released.

If I had any critiques of the book it would be that there are certain elements that would be very unclear to non-fan readers. Terry mentions the black elfstone several times in the book, but never explains what is does. To those that have never read any of the previous book this relic would remain a mystery.

Overall Terry has done an amazing job with this recent novel and I eagerly await the next installment, The Bloodfire Quest, due on March 19th. (Available for hardcover pre-order now, Kindle edition pre-order will be close to the release date.)
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