Jeffery Moulton's Reviews > The Druid of Shannara

The Druid of Shannara by Terry Brooks
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Jan 03, 2011

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bookshelves: epic-fantasy, 2011-books

While not as good as The Scions of Shannara, the first entry in the Heritage of Shannara quadrilogy, The Druid of Shannara (#2 of the series) had some great moments and an interesting overall plot. I enjoyed the new characters it introduced and the ultimate battle with the Stone King and his minions was very satisfying. That being said, it left a lot to be desired.

Druid is a continuation of the overall story arch started in Scions. In the first book, Par, Col, and Wren Olhmsford along with Walker Boh, all descendants of Jerel Shannara, the ancient king of the Elves, were called on three separate quests by the shade of the druid Allanon to save the Four Lands from the evil Shadowen. Par and Col were to find the legendary Sword of Shannara, Wren was to find the lost elves, and Walker was to bring back the lost Druid Keep of Paranor and the order of the Druids with it.

I enjoyed Scions. While largely focusing on Par and Col's quest to find the Sword of Shannara (with exciting results), it also managed to balance the other two stories (admittedly, it balanced Walker's a bit better than Wren's, but both were there) and gave insights into the workings of the new, darker Four Lands and political machinations of its corrupt leaders. I was excited for the second book, but was somewhat disappointed.

First, the book suffered from "middle book syndrome" in that very little was actually resolved by the end. After a handful of wrap-up chapters to help the reader remember where everyone stood, the book followed Walker's story pretty much the entire time. After a while, it became monotonous and I wanted to know what was happening with the others. The two chapters about Wren, which are awkwardly inserted at seemingly random intervals, did not fill my desire to see more of the other quests. And after those chapters, it bounced right back to Walker. Also, because Walker's quest takes him out of the Four Lands, all of the political machinations and insight into the world were sorely missed.

Second, the book really dragged in the second-half. The problem was the same as in many other epic fantasy books: the characters reached an insurmountable obstacle and spent several chapters struggling (and failing) to overcome that obstacle. In this case, Walker and his companions, who are searching for the Stone King, arrive at Eldwist, the King's home, only to discover that it is all-but empty of life and spend several chapters looking for him. After a while, it just got long.

Third, most of the new characters were throw away. It was obvious from the start that most of the new characters brought into this story were only there for this book alone. And while that created some anticipation about how and when they would die, it was also frustrating because some of them were very fascinating and it would have been interesting to see them taken to another place and level.

And last, Walker isn't the most interesting character. He broods too much and doubts too much and spends too much time ignoring or fighting against the obvious. In this book, he is balanced a bit by Morgan Leah, but Morgan spends most of his time having the same internal debate over and over again.

So, the book had problems. But I still enjoyed it and I am interested to see where the story goes next. The Elf Queen of Shannara, book 3 in the series, promises to focus on Wren, who has been underutilized so far. So here's to hoping for a more exciting entry in the series.
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Quotes Jeffery Liked

Terry Brooks
“We live out our lives as we are meant to live them-with some choice, with some chance, but mostly as a result of the persons we are.”
Terry Brooks, The Druid of Shannara

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