Friday, March 19, 2010

Review: The Elf Queen of Shannara by Terry Brooks

After being thoroughly impressed by the second volume of the heritage of Shannara series I was concerned that the third book might struggle to keep up that momentum. I needn’t have worried.

Charged with the nigh impossible task of finding and bringing the Elves back to the Four Lands by the shade of Allanon Wren Ohmsford and her mute companion Garth are forced to follow the only lead they have, the mad ramblings of an aged seer. It leads them to a meeting with Tiger Tye, one of the few remaining sky elves with the ability to ride the giant Rocs, who is able to tell them that the elves had relocated to a far off island many years ago. There has been no word from them in decades and the island is now a deathtrap filled with deadly creatures that seemed to have materialized from out of nowhere. Wren decides to risk a trip to the island, unsure if the elves are even still there and if she can bring them back if they are.

Like the second volume the third focuses on one set characters in this case Wren and Garth as they seek to fulfill their charge, with only small snippets given over to the other characters. As before I enjoyed the focus this provided and it is nice to have part of the story resolved in a single volume. Unlike the second volume though where there were multiple viewpoints following the same storyline Wren is almost the exclusive point of view character for this volume. This worked well for me as the whole journey challenged Wren’s perception of who she was and where she came from to a great extent and it was good to follow her personal growth as the story progressed. Again some of the supporting character’s motivations were more complex than the first book which was a nice touch.

Overall Brooks has again produced some of his best work and this volume is well worth a read. 8/10.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Book Review: The Treasured One by Daivd and Leigh Eddings

When I read The Elder Gods, the first book in the Dreamers series by David and Leigh Eddings, I thought the criticism that the series had received was rather harsh. Sure there were a few familiar elements from some of their previous series seemingly recycled straight out of their previous work but going on the first book I felt the series had great potential. Now I’m not so sure.

With the Vlagh invasion of Zelana’s domain having ended in failure it now turns its attention to one of the other Elder Gods’, Veltan, peaceful land. The Elder Gods move quickly bringing up their armies across to the threatened area. However when it is revealed there is a second invasion in the works it seems obvious that a new force, whether for ill or good, has entered the fray. A force that may surpass even the Elder Gods.

The biggest problem I have with this book is in the pacing and especially that in the first third of the book. The same ground (partly things from this book and partly things from the first.) is covered over and over again from different characters perspectives. I don’t feel this offered any major insights and really made the story feel like it was stalling. The whole book is also extremely dialogue heavy with a great deal of time spent on characters talking about doing things and not much spent actually doing them. So far though I’ve also found that the characters in this series are far less memorable and likeable than those in other Edding’s novels which has always been their main draw card.

Overall I’ve found the second book in the Dreamer’s series to be a bit of a disappointment. Hopefully the third book can turn things around. 5.75/10.