**spoiler alert** The new book by Terry Brooks definitely seemed to bring back the magic that was in the first Shannara series, with Sword, Elfstones,**spoiler alert** The new book by Terry Brooks definitely seemed to bring back the magic that was in the first Shannara series, with Sword, Elfstones, and Wishsong. Although there is the fact that "The Legends of Shannara" series was a series of three stand alone books, whereas Terry has yet to pull that off again for a while... There was a continued sense that the problem he was trying to dig into, the useage of magic as a "front" against the evolving science that continued to fuel the ambitions of the Federation against the former Freeborn, was deep and had far more consequences than even the Shadowen threat.
Not only was there a feeling that so much time had passed between when Khyber Ellessedil had gone into the Druid's Sleep that left me guessing as to who from the prior series was still alive. This not only kept left me guessing about who was left alive from the time of the prior series, but it also lent a relative aspect to the story, me being of a different generation than my brother (as opposed to Khyber and Aphenglow) but still not able to relate to thee changed dynamics with a new generation and how one can be felt as coming across to them. While Khyber in "Straken" seemed still young, a child that had to grow up fast, yet was still calming, gentle, and peaceful, I was forced to try and reckon this with the new Khyber: awe inspiring, still shunned by her elven bloodline, yet a lot more forceful, grim, and seemingly ill-equipped compared to Allanon or Walker Boh to deal with the quest in front of her. The fact that she just walked into the Forbidden, although understandable, seemed foreign to me, as I thought that if I had known the Forbidden was coming (as soon as she related her findings to the group), surely she must have thought of it before entering and becoming entrapped in it, just like Grianne.
There was also a renewed sense of dread, coupled with the prophecy of places that I had remembered from the first series by didn't know how it would fit into the new series. Furthermore, The "Legacy of Shannara" seemed to bring about a lot of the twists and turns that "The Legends of Shannara" series was known for, with characters being killed off without any regard for what seemed like already good dynamics between them (in the case of Aphenglow and Bombax, compared to Amberle and Will).
The added element of familiarity, but also the fact that this series could stand on its own feet if read as a "starter book" seemed like an interesting twist. Although knowing the book does require a lot of built up background to be read first from "The Legends of Shannara" and "High Druid of Shannara", it seems to explain a lot of the characters and concepts as if the Druids themselves had forgotten what everything meant! This really helps the new reader out a lot... as well as helping to bind the series to a tradition that not only includes lines such as the Leahs, Ohmsfords, and Ellessedils, but also spans times with obstacles such as a new Bloodfire quest, a renewed effort to release the protagonists from the Forbidden, and save what has been in place since the destruction of the old world.
But thinking back on the forgetting memories of one generation after another, even with the Druids, as Terry mentions on his site in his September 2012 "Ask Terry":
"First off, the life of an Ellcrys is not predetermined. Some live longer than others, and as with all creatures, no one knows exactly what that life span will be. In Allanon’s time, no one knew for certain how long the previous Ellcrys had been alive. The common belief was that it had lived since the age of Faerie, but that turns out not to be true in the current books, but only what was believed at the earlier time. All history works this way. One generation believes one thing, a new generation further down the evolutionary scale comes to believe something else. What was known about the Ellcrys lost traction over the years as complacency settled in and the belief that she lived forever took hold. Now, in Wards of Faerie a new truth is revealed and as you will see in the next two books, a new history, as well."
The generational memories of the four races have indeed grown long and forgetful since the Second War of the Races, the threat of the Skull Bearers, the Mord Wraiths, and the quest for the blood fire. Maybe it has come to this point because of:
1. The Federation has been the only, THE ONLY race to have never had any life threatening experience with the Warlock Lord, his minions, or those behind the Forbidden. As such, although there are the farthest South and thus less concerned with the other Races and their "affairs", maybe that is the reason for their continued hostile ambition towards to rest of the races, regions, and especially the Druids... even though time after time again there have been events that have proved that the Federation is just as vulnerable as they are. Will the Federation ever realize this? I don't think so...
2. Maybe Terry contrived of the Federation as a mirror of what our society faces now, or what in Shannaran terms would be what led to the destruction of the Old World, a build up of self interest, that eventually led to the downfall of all, including those who were willing to work together for the good of all?
3. Maybe it is this conflict between magic and science that has weakened the Ellcrys further to the point that she had lived a shorter life span than her predecessor. As the Federation keeping making more moves towards science, and magic grows ever weaker, the trust that magic has been put into, the things that it has been used to make, have eroded more than usual. Ultimately, the actions of one are influencing the downfall of all the rest, although they may merely be dismissing the threat or ignoring the wider effect that they may be having. If that is true, what role will science play past the "Dark Legacy" series? Will Shannara just become a repeat of the Old World?
4. Finally, this doesn't relate to the reasons as much, but who is the real master behind the Mwellrets? What are the ambitions of Stoon and the Coalition Council now that Drust is dead? Will the Federation ever realize the impact that they are having? Will they ever unite under a single leader again in the series? The "waterfall" (aka the entrance to the Forbidden) was one point of the vision, are the rest the Hallows (Bloofire) and Greymark (the fortress), respectively? I guess we'll just have to wait and see......more