Book Review: The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Book Reviews copy

The Elfstones of Shannara 1Synopsis: The Ellcrys, the tree of long-lost Elven magic, is dying, unravelling the spell of Forbidding that locks the hordes of Demons away from the world. Already the fearsome Reaper is free. Only by quickening a new seed in the mysterious Bloodfire can the Ellcrys be reborn and the Forbidding made whole. Amberle, a young Elven girl, is chosen to undertake the quest.

The way is perilous, though. Other demons besides the Reaper stalk the land. Amberle will need a protector if she is to prevail, and Wil Ohsmford, heir to the elven magics of Shannara, is chosen to accompany her. Amberle’s quest and the fate of the Four Lands will rest on Wil’s ability to unlock the magic of the mysterious Elfstones of Shannara.

Author: Terry Brooks

Title: The Elfstones of Shannara

Publisher: Orbit

Date: 1982

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The Sword of Shannara Review

After reading The Sword of Shannara, I had mixed feelings about continuing the trilogy. But never let it be said that I give up on something once I have started.

How do I feel now I have read The Elfstones of Shannara? The second book was stronger, mainly because there wasn’t so much page-space dedicated to the history of the races. It was still, however, a long book and I felt the pace could have been quicker and the detail less in order to make a more exciting book.

The threat originally comes from the Dadga Mor, one of the first demons to break through and act as a leader to the hordes that followed him. But for a terrifying demon, his presence was severely under-used. He directed his minions to cause terror – and the Reaper was certainly a character to send a chill up your spine and into your heart. But the Dadga Mor himself didn’t really do a lot, apart from having one final fight, that he ultimately lost.

Understanding flooded through him. It was not the mix of his Man blood with his Elven blood that was shutting him from the power of the Stones. It was his fear of the magic.

The real threat, the threat that drives the characters, comes from the mass of demons swarming to destroy the elves. This meant that half the book was the war between elves and demons – and it made for thoroughly enjoyable reading.

Wil and Amberle were supposedly the main characters. But I couldn’t truly connect with either of them. We don’t get to see enough of Amberle – and what we do mainly reveals her to be a frightened girl until the end. Wil was a likeable enough character, there was just something about him that meant I never really empathised with his character the way I should have done.

The overlooked prince of the elves, Ander Elessedil, was the type of true hero we all love reading about. Faced with impossible odds and decisions that should have never been his responsibility, he rose to lead his people. He was a strong character from beginning to end and was thoroughly likeable. He stole it for me as he was definitely my favourite!

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Have you ever noticed a particular writing trait that annoys you, and then you see it throughout the entire book? I had that exact problem! Honestly, if I read the phrase `the Valeman and the Elven girl` one more time, I was going to chuck the book at something. For a 600-page book, Brooks has a way of repeating himself that starts to grate on you once you have noticed it.

While there wasn’t the same history lesson included in this one as the first, there was still a lot of description that threatened to lose me at places. It wasn’t that it was badly written; it just extended for too long in places that you could be halfway through a chapter before realising whose narration you were following.

The extended fight scenes meant I got some real enjoyment out of this book. But that isn’t what fantasy is known for, and I still have my doubts about this series!

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