Wards of Faerie audiobook
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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. Ill need to read the rest of the trilogy to find the upswing.
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I\’m late to this series, having gotten out of the habit of reading the Shannara books some years back, as I much preferred Brooks\’ earlier works, but I thought it would be fun returning to that world. It had its moments, but the enjoyment came almost entirely out of nostalgia with references to beloved characters from ages past. Overall, the story had a lot of promise, but it failed in far too many respects. Spoiler alert (if needed after so long), I knew from the first few pages that the missing Elfstones would be locked away in the Forbidding, but the entire cast of good guy characters, including the Druids, who are supposed to be the most intuitive and wise off all people in the Four Lands, could not figure it out for the entire story despite all the blatant history and hints that the author left. The same goes for the obvious fact that Aleia Omarosian atoned for her mistake by becoming the first Ellcrys. It\’s a real struggle to read about such stupid characters. Protagonists should be likeable, with traits that readers would aspire to have, so we care about them and develop rooting interest in them. I hated these moronic characters so much that I felt nothing when they died off and even found myself rooting for the demons and hoping that the Forbidding would fail and the Four Lands would be destroyed. In addition to being stupid, the druids and the Ohmsford twins are very weak. Their magic is pathetic and uninspired. Allanon would be ashamed of them, and I certainly am. Their Druid fire seems barely able to push an enemy away half of the time, let alone kill them, and they die almost as fast as the Druid guard (think Star-Trek red shirt characters). In the Federation attack on Paranor, the Druids should\’ve been able to burn the enemy airships from the sky, but of course, they\’re too stupid or weak to even think of it or try. The Ohmsford twins have the Wishshong, we\’re told, and they\’re vital to the quest, but even after embarking on their adventure, they never practice with it, test it, or push its limits, and when the first test comes, they fail miserably. Brin would be ashamed of them. She, like Allanon, wielded formidable power. The twins, on the other hand, seem to actively choose to use it in the weakest ways imaginable to enable more and more red-shirt characters to die off around them. Perhaps Brooks hoped to show how formidable his monsters were, but he could have done much better. He could\’ve had strong protagonists, or at least protagonists working to become stronger and better, and had them face greater obstacles. Instead, we get endless waves of tiny Goblin demons, which are the equivalent of zerglings from Starcraft, and yet the expedition can\’t even stand up to that. The Wishsong in this series should be renamed the Lamesong. Aside from individual characters being stupid, the entire race of Elves seem stupid. The politics are petty, the cast of minor characters quite flat and boring. The Elf king is old and failing, and Brooks has written an heir to the throne that is a fool, and the Elves can\’t seem to find a way to save themselves. I could think of dozens of ways, so you\’d think that some character somewhere might think to murder the crown prince to save their nation or just have the king change the law in order to choose his successor rather than blindly pass the throne to an incompetent fool just because he\’s family. You have to know that Brooks wrote the crown prince that way just to artificially make more conflict for the Bloodfire Quest that takes place in the next book. Until now, while I love Brandon Mull\’s Fablehaven books, I believed that no character in all of fiction could ever be dumber than Seth in his first book in the scene in which he opens the attic window for the monsters, but Brooks\’ characters in this book have taken that dubious honor. In Fablehaven, Mull had Seth open that window solely because he needed it to happen in order to put the preserve in peril so he could write the rest of his story. He should\’ve found a better way. Brooks is in the same boat. Perhaps he wrote such stupid characters because he couldn\’t think of another way to write the story because he felt he would give too much away early on, but that makes me feel that he considers me, and all other readers, stupid. Another possibility, a dreadful one, is that since he\’s long since built up a following of readers, he might\’ve felt that he didn\’t need to put much effort into his work. I sincerely hope that wasn\’t the case. Other disappointments: Far too much of the story is taken up with characters sitting around thinking, feeling, talking, and planning endlessly, and then once we get to the action, Brooks tells rather than shows said action. Adding insult to injury, he goes a step farther and tells us that he\’s going to tell us what happens with such inspired lines as: In the next instant, the dragon attacked. Don\’t tell us that. Show the attack! He then tends to use passive verbs like \’was\’ rather than anything active in his description and very rarely uses simile or metaphor to to bring the imagery to life. He\’s also guilty of using some of the most overused cliches in existence (shaken like a rag doll, for instance). Now, after all that, I have to say that I intend to finish the series just to see how he finishes the story. I\’m also sorry to have felt the need to write such a review. I\’ve loved Terry Brooks for ages. I first read The Sword of Shannara at age 12 and I loved the world and characters he created. Perhaps that\’s a large reason for this review. It feels like these books are a betrayal of his writing skill and all the stories that came before them. I\’m halfway through Bloodfire Quest, and it\’s no better, but I still hope that it, and the rest of his books, improve.
Audiobook Wards of Faerie by Terry Brooks
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.
Audio Wards of Faerie narrated by Rosalyn Landor
For fans of Brooks\’ Shannara series here comes a new trilogy expanding on the world and happenings. Set in a volatile period of Elven history, where science and technology is getting rediscovered by the races just as the magical power is slowly waning (the exception being the handful of druids still very much invested in it), it goes sufficiently far to be an intriguing volume drawing you into the new trilogy. A quest for finding long lost elfstones is one of the main threads in the book, the other being the defence of the druid order as such. While there is a partial resolution to the one part, the book is more or less only a scene setter to the other one. As the book is a scene setter for the rest of the trilogy, most of the characters are covered only vaguely – the exception being Aphenglow Elessedil, the female protagonist (elven druid). With her you get a reasonably well developed, rounded character. The book finds a reasonable balance between scene setting, character development and action sequences, and while the high number of characters only allows some of them to be developed fully (and some disappear before getting there), it all remains intriguing enough to look forward to the second and third installments to the trilogy. While I have read other Shannara works by the author, doing so is not essential (even if somewhat helpful) for one\’s enjoyment of the book.
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Possibly the most brilliant thing Terry Brooks has done with his Shannara works is the creation of a world that spans thousands of years and evolves as a real world would. In this book we find ourselves roughly a century on from the events of the previous novels (previous in terms of chronology in the series not in written order) and the world has moved on again. Science is catching up with magic and a struggle for power is coming soon. To think that the Shannara series started with small little hamlets and kingdoms and now encompasses federations and cities shows how far these books have gone. With the addition of newer books that acted as prequels we have been with the Shannara series through the destruction of an old world, the rise of a new and the countless rise and falls of different powers be they the druid council, kingdoms or even the rule of magic itself. In all of the fantasy series I have ever read this is the first one to encompass so much change and it is the reason why every time you pick up a new Shannara series you can be sure that though instantly familiar as part of Terry Brook\’s world you are still in for a ride that feels just as fresh as ever. This book is the first in a trilogy of which the Druids undertake a quest to find a magic lost to the world since the time of the faerie. Whilst they are out on their quest however they leave themselves open to attack from the federation of men who want to see the druids and all magic wiped from the world. What follows is the beginning of what appears to be another gripping adventure for the Shannara world and possibly the beginning of a completely new era for the residents of the four lands. This was an enjoyable book as per usual and I am thoroughly looking forward to reading the next. Terry Brooks has wonderfully set the scene with this book, teasing us with what might be to come but leaving us with great amounts of questions that need to be answered. All in all a great book and I recommend to all Terry Brooks fans. For those who have not read his books I know that Mr Brooks does writes his novels so you can pick up any of the series and start afresh but I do recommend reading the previous novels to get a full history of this world.