Sunday, August 12, 2012

Book review: "The Wishsong of Shannara" by Terry Brooks

I was very happy to start reading "The Wishsong of Shannara" by Terry Brook, because I knew that after this I was done with "The Shannara Trilogy" and I could move on to better stuff. But I was once again surprised, because toward the end I actually enjoyed the book.

Again, "The Wishsong of Shannara" starts some years after the previous book. After the end of "The Elfstones of Shannara" and defeat of Demons, Will Omshford has married Eretria and returned to the Shady Vale, where he became a famous Healer and got two children, Brin (older daughter) and Jair (younger son). But it turned out that Will's playing with the Elfstones backfired and gave his children a strange and new ability, the wishsong. In Brin it manifested as the power to change world around her by song; Jair, on the other hand, was able just to make an illusion of change. One day while Will and Eretria were on a trip, after being absent for all these years from the Four Land, Alannon reappear in Shady Vale to collect Brin and take her to a dangerous journey - to destroy the book of evil magic, the same one that turned Druid Brona to evil Warlock Lord, as this can only be done with power of the wishsong. On this trip they are joined by Rone Lean, grandson of Menion Leah. Jair is to stay at home and guard their back, from both their parents (who would object to this journey) and Mord Wraiths (magicians turned evil by the book).

It this intro sounds a bit too fast, that is all right - the same is with the book itself. You found there information in few pages and the adventure immediately starts, with no one asking why. Again, there is new and unplanned addition to setting, convenient for the plot, which no one asks much about. But if you accept this, you are in for a pretty decent book. This is a much faster and lighter book than the first two - and although it has similar number of pages, it is read much faster. It is divided to two main plotlines, Brin's and Jair's - there are other POVs too, but these two are obviously main characters and we see the most of the book from their view. Brin's part was a bit to angsty in places, but she is such characters. Jair's part was, on the other hand, much more fun to read - lots of action, fighting, cleverness. He also has a much larger cast around himself, so their dynamic was more interesting. Nice last part of the book, especially description of Maeldrom forest - this was one of rare ingenious parts.

There is much characters in this book, and we don't meet everybody at the beginning. Although Brooks intended Garet Jax to be the most imposing one (as I gathered from his introduction), I found Slanter the most interesting and complex character. Other character are good and interesting (especially Cogline), if you don't mind single-mindedness much. This was the first book in series to feature genuine humor, and I appreciated that much. On the other hand, while I can say I was every warmed up for Alannon, in this book he was most irritating so far - he is described as philosophizer, teacher, wanderer - never seen him doing anything of that.

A reader could again find many inconsistencies if he would look for them, but there are not so obvious here and I didn't mind them. Curiously, the old hero is forgotten and does't appear any more - Will here, as was with Shea in "The Elfstones of Shannara" My biggest objection is that bad guys are still indistinctive and mute.

Just a note: this book not connected with plot, just by setting and some characters - every one is stand-alone.

"The Wishsong of Shannnara" is actually a pretty good book, especially Jair's part, compared to first two (especially the first). But while I was reading it, a also happened to read this. I know that taste is not something to discuss, and I am aware that Shannara series has a tons of fans... But compared to this, this book was bland - these few chapters written by Erikson contain more history, drama, epic, magic, characters, etc. than complete Shannara original trilogy! It was something in range of Eddings, but not of Feist who is much faster and funnier. Although it is not completely bad, it is not something I would really recommend since there are much better books out there.


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