An auspicious beginning to Brooks’ latest Shannara tale.

WARDS OF FAERIE

THE DARK LEGACY OF SHANNARA

Prolific epic-fantasy novelist Brooks (The Measure of the Magic, 2011, etc.) unveils the first in his latest Shannara trilogy.

The story takes place 100 years after the events of Brooks’ 2005 Shannara novel, Straken, and follows an Elven Druid, Aphenglow Elessedil, on her quest to recover the remaining legendary Elfstones. After discovering a reference to the magical stones in an ancient diary, she becomes determined to find them, in large part so that they don’t fall into the wrong hands. She travels to the Druid fortress Paranor, where she enlists the help of her Elven relation, the powerful Ard Rhys Khyber Elessedil. The Ard Rhys consults the shade of the Druid Allanon, who advises her to gather a group to aid in the quest, including twins Railing and Redden Ohmsford, who wield the magic of the wishsong. Meanwhile, Drust Chazhul, the treacherous new prime minister of the technology-favoring Federation, uses a fleet of airships in a plan to destroy the magic-using Druids once and for all. After having spent the past several years publishing prequels to the original Shannara trilogy, Brooks here tackles a continuation of the vast series chronology. Fans will not be disappointed, for while this first installment primarily serves to introduce the main plot and players, it doesn’t skimp on the action scenes, which crackle as always, including a climactic confrontation between airships and magic. And although Brooks has written some 20 books in the Shannara saga to date—the first, The Sword of Shannara, was published 35 years ago—he shows little sign of slowing his pace; the second book in this trilogy is planned for publication in 2013.

An auspicious beginning to Brooks’ latest Shannara tale.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-345-52347-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

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THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE

After 1,000 years of peace, whispers that “the Nameless One will return” ignite the spark that sets the world order aflame.

No, the Nameless One is not a new nickname for Voldemort. Here, evil takes the shape of fire-breathing dragons—beasts that feed off chaos and imbalance—set on destroying humankind. The leader of these creatures, the Nameless One, has been trapped in the Abyss for ages after having been severely wounded by the sword Ascalon wielded by Galian Berethnet. These events brought about the current order: Virtudom, the kingdom set up by Berethnet, is a pious society that considers all dragons evil. In the East, dragons are worshiped as gods—but not the fire-breathing type. These dragons channel the power of water and are said to be born of stars. They forge a connection with humans by taking riders. In the South, an entirely different way of thinking exists. There, a society of female mages called the Priory worships the Mother. They don’t believe that the Berethnet line, continued by generations of queens, is the sacred key to keeping the Nameless One at bay. This means he could return—and soon. “Do you not see? It is a cycle.” The one thing uniting all corners of the world is fear. Representatives of each belief system—Queen Sabran the Ninth of Virtudom, hopeful dragon rider Tané of the East, and Ead Duryan, mage of the Priory from the South—are linked by the common goal of keeping the Nameless One trapped at any cost. This world of female warriors and leaders feels natural, and while there is a “chosen one” aspect to the tale, it’s far from the main point. Shannon’s depth of imagination and worldbuilding are impressive, as this 800-pager is filled not only with legend, but also with satisfying twists that turn legend on its head. Shannon isn’t new to this game of complex storytelling. Her Bone Season novels (The Song Rising, 2017, etc.) navigate a multilayered society of clairvoyants. Here, Shannon chooses a more traditional view of magic, where light fights against dark, earth against sky, and fire against water. Through these classic pairings, an entirely fresh and addicting tale is born. Shannon may favor detailed explication over keeping a steady pace, but the epic converging of plotlines at the end is enough to forgive.

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-029-8

Page Count: 848

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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