Book Review: The Wishsong of Shannara by Terry Brooks

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The Wishsong of Shannara 1Goodread’s Synopsis: Horror stalks the Four Lands. The Ildatch, ancient source of evil, has stirred to life. It sends its foul Mord Wraiths to make war on all living things and bring about, at last, Mankind’s destruction.

Once again Allanon, Druid Protector of the Races, must seek the help of a descendant of the Elven King, Jerle Shannara. Brin, daughter of Wil Ohmsford, has been born with the magic of the Wishsong, which alone can open a way to the Ildatch. Reluctantly, she joins Allanon on his perilous journey east.

Meanwhile her younger brother, Jair, learns that Brin will fail and die unless he can reach her in time. As Brin walks blindly into the trap the Ildatch has set, Jair’s only hope of reaching her in time is to travel through the very heart of evil… 

Author: Terry Brooks

Title: The Wishsong of Shannara

Publisher: Orbit

Date: 1985

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Having enjoyed The Elfstones of Shannara more than The Sword of Shannara, I was looking forward to the final instalment in the trilogy. It was a good call to continue with the books; this was my favourite!

As with the previous books, the narration is split: Brin and Rone travel to destroy evil, while her brother, Jair, joins a strange group of companions and sets off after her. And, like the other books, I found one narration stronger and more enjoyable to read: Jair and his friends.

I have to admit, Brooks doesn’t write the strongest female characters. Brin spends the entire plot worrying and frightened of herself, isolated from her friends by her own anxieties. It makes perfect sense given the task ahead, but I couldn’t connect with her character.

“Friendship is a thing sensed inwardly as much as a thing pledged openly. One feels friendship and becomes bound by it. It was this that drew Whisper to me and gained me his loyalty. I loved him as he loved me, and each of us sensed that in the other. I have sensed it with you as well.”

Rone is likeable enough – you get a sense of his character, but don’t see enough of him to get that bond that I felt with his ancestor, Menion, in the first book. These characterisations meant their narration felt like it meandered a little, with not a lot of interaction until towards the end.

Jair, however, was instantly likeable. He has drive and determination; adamant he won’t be left behind when his sister is in danger. He is frightened, just like Brin, but he has an innocence about him that made me love him.

Jair travels with a group of companions: a surly gnome, a legendary Weapons Master, an elven prince, a dwarf and a Borderman. You get a sense of each of their characters, and their undying loyalty towards Jair and his quest. You also see Jair grow into his role, feeling a bond with these men and understanding their sacrifice.

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The main difference between Jair and Brin is their progression. Jair sets out as a boy, and very much returns as a man. Brin experiences a trauma that would break a lesser person, and yet doesn’t appear to have changed or grown by the end of the book. She simply understands more.

There were a few twists that I didn’t see coming. A reoccurring character meets an unexpected end: something I didn’t think was possible for him. Jair’s companions do not make it through the journey unscathed – again, there has been one major death in each book so far, but this time, the trend is broken and more than one character does not make it to the end.

Brooks’ writing engaged me more in this book. There was less Lord of the Rings and more of a feeling that he was developing his own world further. There was also less history or geography passages, which made the pace steady rather than dragging.

The dual narration was especially effective towards the end of the book. As the danger looms, evil begins to be freed and the characters race to the same destination, the fast changing between narration really worked to speed the pace and add to the tension! Well written, indeed.

Overall, a strong end to an enjoyable trilogy.

Amazon | Waterstones

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Wishsong of Shannara by Terry Brooks

    • There are apparently loads of books set in this world, so who knows how much further I will get (I still need to get back to Robin Hobb!). I don’t know whether I got used to the writing style or it did get stronger, but I did enjoy this one the most, for sure!

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      • Yes!! Get back to Hobb! lol.
        J/k. I won’t pressure you about it because her books are sometimes an emotional slog for me because so much happens that by the end I feel emotionally drained and have to take a break before moving on.

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