And I thought the cliff hanger at the end of Wards of Faerie was bad! It’s fairly common for books in a series to be more episodic, wrapping everything up neatly enough at the end for the reader to be able to relax, but leaving enough questions for the anticipation to begin building for the next novel. When it comes to series by New York Times Bestselling author Terry Brooks, the book might stop, but the action doesn’t. Fortunately for readers, this year brought a special treat: an entire trilogy released within the space of 12 months. The second chapter of The Dark Legacy of Shannara Trilogy releases today, and Bloodfire Quest answers many of the questions from Wards of Faerie, thrusts the saga forward with mounting action and peril, and builds the stakes for Witch Wraith all at the same time.
Wards of Faerie ended with the fellowship to find the long lost Elfstones scattered. Some were even imprisoned on the wrong side of the barrier that protects the four lands from the dark creatures of the Forbidding. The action resumes as each party struggles to access their situation and either resume the quest or look for their lost companions.
Back in Arborlon, unknown to those lost on the quest, the stakes are rising. The Ellcrys is fading once again, and Arlingfant Elessedil has received the ancient tree’s command to journey to the Bloodfire and become the next Ellcrys. Horrified by this turn of events, the elf girl turns to her druid sister Aphenglow for help, and Aphen, Arling, and Cymrian set out on the quest, returning to overrun Paranor for information. Then they set out on a quest of their own.
Meanwhile the original band starts regrouping, each in their fractured parties. Redden Ohmsford and Khyber Elessedil move further into the Forbidding only to be capture by an old enemy, the Straken Lord. Oriantha is still free and hoping to rescue them. Railing and Mirai have the same hope, yet they are on the other side of the invisible barrier. But the price the Straken Lord has named for his prisoners is high. He wants the previous Ard Rhys, Grianne Ohmsford, who most people assume is dead.
I admit that I cringed during the first few pages. The Ellcrys failing? Again? But a few more pages found me completely riveted to the book, fascinated by the repetition of history. Terry Brooks has always managed to pen unique books even within the frame work of his world. His era hopping may have caused Bloodfire Quest to revisit some of the themes of earlier books, but it made sense to do so. The rule is that history repeats, and if the Ellcrys can fail at all, it make sense that it will do some repeatedly throughout the ages. We have seen familiar elements tying the stories together before, in the King of the Silver River and the entwined fate of the Ohmsford and Elessedil families.
Since reading the first book, I have felt that the Dark Legacy series is very much a return to the feel of some of Terry’s original Shannara series, and Bloodfire Quest only reinforced that reaction. I loved the “prequel trilogies,” but they had a very different tone. The epic nature of the quest, the gut-wrenching loss of major character, the familiarity of the Elfstones, and the dancing on the chair excitement over the hint Grianne (my favorite) character might return, brought back memories of ripping through the pages of the new world Terry Brooks had unveiled, unsure whether or not you dared to find out what happened next.