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The Memories of Reading Brooks come Back with this one
on March 5, 2011
Terry Brooks and Shannara have been around since the 1970s. I remember stumbling across Brooks after reading all of Tolkien's works and wondering if there was anyone else out there who could write and create a world like Tolkien. I didn't realize at the time, how tall an order that was. I read a lot of imitators and wannabes and was about to give up, but thanks to Brooks and a few others I was pleasantly surprised that there was some fantasy literature out there worth reading.
Over time though, I began to feel that Terry was dragging things out just a little and some of the plots and stories were wearing a little thin. It was with this background and sense of wonder as to where Terry would go with a Shannara related book so many years later, that I picked this book out and I have to say, I wasn't disappointed.
It's been a long time since I read the original Shannara books and I wondered if I was going to be able to come back so many years later and remember enough for the book to make sense. As it turned out, there was no reason to worry. This book stands well by itself and while it certainly has some ties to previous works, I didn't find myself confused or needing to recall characters or plots from the past to make sense of what was going on here.
Brooks' writes smoothly (as I remember well) and strikes a good balance between character development, plot progression with surprises along the way that keep the reader from getting too comfortable. Tied into this series as well is a good tie to our good old "mundane" world with some speculation as to what things might be in the aftermath of, oh I don't know .... how about a nuclear holocaust? It does it however without the tempting social commentary that another writer might have indulged in.
The characters presented develop well although by the time the book comes to a conclusion (preparing for the next in the series) you may want a scorecard to keep track of all the little subplots and relationships taking place.
Overall, I enjoyed returning to Brooks and reading this side foray into Shannara reminded me of why he was one of the few who could capture for me that "feeling" that I was introduced to in middle-earth and have so much difficulty finding outside of it. Brooks is a voice of his own creation and not an echo, so it's not necessarily fair to hold him or anyone up to that standard, but then again, Brooks for me measures up about as well as any other author I've found in this genre and it was nice to revisit and remember why that is so.