Brooks takes another stab at the not-so-hot Shannara wimp-magic fantasy conveyor-belt (most recently, The Wishsong of Shannara, 1985) with this first of a new series called The Heritage of Shannara--just in case you hadn't guessed. Anyway, 300 years have passed. The world is now threatened by: the Federation, which is slowly exerting political and military control, and repressing the peoples; and: the evil, nasty-ugly Shadowen--they're made of warped, remaindered bits of magic and absorb their victims by osmosis. So, up rises the ghost of the powerful Druid, Allanon (no, he's not a problem drinker) with sage advice on What Must Be Done. He tells young Par Ohmsford, whose magic is the wishsong, to find the lost Sword of Shannara; Par's uncle, the highly magical but reluctant Walker Boh, to restore long-vanished Paranor and its Druids; and free-spirit Wren Ohmsford to locate and retrieve the long-vanished Elves. Understandably, only Par shows any enthusiasm--though all three manage to embroil themselves in sticky situations, with everything nicely cliff-hanging-ready for Chunk Two. Glum and mediocre. Hard to understand the large-selling appeal of this and similar dime-a-dozen epics, but certainly whoever buys them has an insatiable need for the reassuringly familiar.