Author Terry Brooks has delivered some of the best fantasy tales written in the past 35 years. His latest, "Wards of Faerie: The Dark Legacy of Shannara," continues the saga that started with a sword in 1977.
The best fantasy novels immerse readers in an unusual, yet familiar world, and the Four Lands chronicled in Brooks' Shannara books highlight a jagged and potentially dangerous landscape. The classics in the genre also reveal strong and sympathetic characters, and Brooks has a flair for memorable ones that readers root for amid the chaos.
"Wards of Faerie: The Dark Legacy of Shannara"By Terry Brooks
Ballantine Del Rey, 384 pages, $28
In "Wards of Faerie," a young Elven girl falls in love with a bad boy thousands of years ago. Their relationship deteriorates when they realize they cannot be together. Upset, he steals the powerful and magical Elfstones from her, leaving one stone behind that he claims will help her find him. She's unsuccessful in her quest, and she writes about her sorrow in a diary.
In the present, the young druid Aphenglow Elessedil stumbles on the forgotten words. She persuades the leader of the druids to launch an expedition to find the missing stones.
Brooks features the conflict between the world of magic and the growing movement for science. Secrets and a person's destiny also play key roles in the narrative.
The design of the Shannara books spreads the story line across centuries, yet also makes it easy for new readers to jump in at any point.
With the popularity of George R.R. Martin's "A Game of Thrones," the end of The Wheel of Time saga in January and the first part of "The Hobbit" opening in theaters in December, the world of fantasy is more prevalent than ever.
Brooks' Shannara series is a grand example of the best of the best in the genre.