Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Scions of Shannara Review

Terry Brooks has received a great deal of criticism over the years because of the similarity of hisfirst book The Sword of Shannara and Lord of the Rings. Whatever else maybe said about Brooks his writing certainly improves from book to book and The Scions of Shannara is no exception.

Set a few generations after the events of a wishsong of Shannara, the world has certainly changed. The elves have inexplicably disappeared, the federation controls most of the land and has enslaved the dwarves and outlawed magic. Most of the events that took place in the previous novels are now considered legends, when they are remembered at all. Par and Coll Ohmsford try and spread the tales of the ancestors, aided by Par’s ability to use the wishsong. The federation of course don’t like this and setout to capture them. Meanwhile The shade of Allanon has been sending dreams to the Ohmsfords that still retain magic, Par, his uncle Walker Boh and his cousin Wren warning them of a threat posed by the shadowan, dreams which they have been ignoring. Cogline, a failed druid is sent to tell them the dreams are real and summon them to meet with the shade so he can set them tasks, recovering the sword of shannara, finding the elves and restoring paranor. However Allanon has often used the Ohmsfords before, can he be trusted? Descendents of other characters from previous volumes are also around.

Brooks has a strong, descriptive style of writing that is easy to read. Most of the story is told from Par’s perspective but there are sections from Walker Boh’s, Wren’s and a few secondary characters as well. These are likely to increase in subsequent novels. The only real criticism I have is the similarities some of the characters have to there ancestors. Par is very similar to Shea, Col to Flick and Morgan Leah to the other Leah’s that have come before.

Overall Scions does a good job of setting the series up for the subsequent three books. 7.5/10.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Darkness that comes before Review

The Darkness that comes before is one of those books that is really difficult to review. The reason is simple it just does everything so well that there really isn't much to say.

The premise is this a holy war has been declared by the shriah of the thousand temples to wrest back control of the holy city of Shimeah from the heathens. Sorcerer, Drusas Achamian has been sent to investigate and see if his school, the mandate's, long lost enemies the consult are involved. The consult were involved in a catastrophic event thousands of years earlier known as the first apocalypse and the mandate fear a second such event. There are a host of other points of view from a number of characters the most important of which include an emperor, Krijates Xinemus who hopes to use the holy war to gain back lost pieces of his empire. An aging prostitute Esmenet who is in love with Achamian and is looking for her own adventure. A monk, Anasûrimbor Kellhus who is looking to find and kill his father. A barbarian warrior Cnaiur urs Skiotha who is also looking to kill the monk's father for tricking him into helping kill his own father decades earlier. As you can see each character has their own stories and agendas. In that respect this book is remisecent of the Malazan books with the diverging plot lines, although Bakker does a much better job than Erickson in bringing them together.
The world Bakker creates is very similar to our own ancient world with some very interesting parallels. The royal court of Xinemus has a very persian or ptlomeic feel to it. While Skiotha's people are much like mongels. If you like your fantasy full of intrigue and three dimensional characters give Bakker's first book a try. As for myself I look forward to reading the rest of the prince of nothing trilogy. 8/10