Brooks finds another series to wring out of the profitable Shannara world that has been so good to him in the past.
This first installment of the “High Druid of Shannara” series gives readers Grianne Ohmsford, Ard Rhys of the Third Druid Council, High Druid of Paranor, and the dreaded (now supposedly reformed) ex-Ilse Witch. At the outset, Grianne has been targeted by the various factions that honeycomb the multiracial (Elves, Dwarves, and the like) populace at Paranor, a Druid training school, which was begun as a sort of fantasy-world UN but has long since been riddled by infighting and paranoia. Grianne is banished by a traitorous Druid underling (for such a powerful Druid, she doesn’t seem to have the gift to see obvious danger) to a grim netherworld called the Forbidding, filled with horrid creatures that haven’t been seen in the everyday world for millennia, leaving Paranor ripe for the picking. Grianne’s personal assistant dwarf, Tagwen, seeks help from Pen Ohmsford, Grianne’s cousin, who fortunately has a light airship that he calls his own, all the better to escape from the evil Druids that come looking for Grianne’s kin in a huge airship of their own. Brooks has obviously been over this territory more times than he can probably count, which would explain so much of the sturdy but generally lackadaisical storytelling. The only time the book really perks up is right after Grianne finds herself in the Forbidding, a nightmare spot with some well-imagined monsters and a palpable sense of danger. Otherwise, it’s business as usual, with little action until well after the halfway mark, a point where it becomes obvious that readers are going to have to wait for the second High Druid outing for anything of real import to happen.
Satisfying but often lamentably prosaic—but sure to be another bonanza for this one-man industry.