Sunday, February 14, 2010

Review: The Druid of Shannara by Terry Brooks

One thing I absolutely love about Terry Brooks is that his writing and storytelling improve with each book. The Druid of Shannara, the second book in the Heritage of Shannara series is no exception.

After the events of the first book the King of the Silver River decides to take a direct hand in proceedings. He creates an avatar; a daughter named Quickening, made from ingredients of his garden and his own magic and charges her with the task of recovering the black Elfstone. The Elfstone was stolen by Uhl Belk, another fairie creature left over from the dawn of time and warped by the passing of eons. To fulfill her purpose Quickening sets about recruiting a small band of followers including a maimed Walker Boh and a virtually powerless Morgan Leah, as well as a mysterious assassin Pe Ell. Convincing each of them that all of their magic is required to recover the lost talisman.

The majority of the second book focuses on the exploits of the aforementioned characters and there are only brief glimpses into what Wren, Par and Coll are up to. In the first book there was almost a sameness about the characters in that all of their intentions were always crystal clear. Even the dark uncle Walker Boh’s motivations were fairly simple; wanting to avoid being ensnared in the machinations of the druids. This problem is rectified by the addition of two fairly complex characters in Quickening and Pe Ell. Both are much more than they appear on the surface and their motivations are murky right up until the end.

Overall I felt this book was a big step in the right direction and one which I thoroughly enjoyed. 8/10.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Review: The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham

After reading and enjoying David Anthony Durham’s first foray into fantasy, Acacia, last year I was intrigued to see if his sequel could live up to the original. He didn’t disappoint me.

Nearly a decade has past since the events of the first book. Corinn rules the empire but is disturbed at the growing unrest of the people which threatens that rule. When the league offers her a new alternative to mist to control those people she is very intrigued. Her brother Dariel is troubled by his own actions during the war with the Mein and has spent the last few years working amongst the people, this is interrupted when Corinn sends him as an emissary to the mysterious Other Lands to show their support for the League in a major dispute. Things quickly take a turn for the worse and once again the Known World is threatened by invasion. Mena meanwhile has spent the last few years hunting down monsters known as Foulthings, a task she has almost completed. The last of the Foulthings is however something she never would have expected.

One of the themes of The Other Lands is that all actions have consequences. This is made immediately apparent from the beginning with Mena hunting down the foulthings, hybrid creatures created by the after effects of the magic unleashed by the Santoth to destroy Hanish Mein’s army. The second book goes a long way into expanding the history of the land and the factors that are shaping it during this turbulent time. What I liked most about this novel is the consistent character progression, especially Corrin’s. Her inability to trust those around her and her insecurity lead to a great cliffhanger to close The Other Lands and sets the series up perfectly for the finale.

Overall I enjoyed the Other Lands and highly recommend it. Durham is certainly one to watch. 8/10