Review: Wards of Faerie by Terry Brooks

Saturday, November 10, 2012
Title: Wards of Faerie
Author: Terry Brooks
Genre: fantasy
Series: The Dark Legacy of Shannara
Pages: 384 (Nook ARC edition)
Published: August 2012
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 2/5

When the world was young, and its name was Faerie, the power of magic ruled—and the Elfstones warded the race of Elves and their lands, keeping evil at bay. But when an Elven girl fell hopelessly in love with a Darkling boy of the Void, he carried away more than her heart.

Thousands of years later, tumultuous times are upon the world now known as the Four Lands. Users of magic are in conflict with proponents of science. Elves have distanced their society from the other races. The dwindling Druid order and its teachings are threatened with extinction. A sinister politician has used treachery and murder to rise as prime minister of the mighty Federation. Meanwhile, poring through a long-forgotten diary, the young Druid Aphenglow Elessedil has stumbled upon the secret account of an Elven girl’s heartbreak and the shocking truth about the vanished Elfstones. But never has a little knowledge been so very dangerous—as Aphenglow quickly learns when she’s set upon by assassins.

Yet there can be no turning back from the road to which fate has steered her. For whoever captures the Elfstones and their untold powers will surely hold the advantage in the devastating clash to come. But Aphenglow and her allies—Druids, Elves, and humans alike—remember the monstrous history of the Demon War, and they know that the Four Lands will never survive another reign of darkness. But whether they themselves can survive the attempt to stem that tide is another question entirely.

This was a struggle for me, from beginning to end. Of the twenty+ Shannara serues novels Brooks has published to date, I've read fourteen and never have I had as hard a time finishing as I did here with Wards of Faerie. A novel nearly four hundred pages in length should feel and read more than as filler and introductory information. While there is a conflict and climax, both are minimal, predictable, and reminiscent of many other Shannara novels. A disappointment from a well-known author, Terry Brooks can and has done better than this latest effort.  Almost uniformly flat and uninvolving, fans of this long-running (and soon to be adapted to tv series) will do better to stick to Brooks' earlier, and much better executed, Shannara novels.

While my enthusiasm for Shannara books has waned with each new novel and my exposure to more creative examples of fantasy, Brooks usually at least manages to entertain with his incredibly fleshed-out world and usually interesting and well-rounded characters. Not so is the case with Wards of Faerie. Once again, an Elessedil heir is searching for a set of Elfstones (as seen in Elfstones of Shannara), while wrestling with foes from the Federation (as seen in nearly every Shannara novel written.) Once again an Ohmsford descendant is required to save the world (again, as seen in _every_Shannah_novel_ever), no matter that the popular family tree has whittled down to two heirs (sound familiar?). Brooks clearly has a pattern for these books, and a little invention or deviation from the known path would have done much to save this anticlimactic and formulaic fantasy novel.

This novel is a lot of time invested for very little payoff. It's not rewarding to read those three hundred eighty four pages because the entire novel reeks of set-up and introduction. New characters (even if set on predictable paths) fail to engage, the plot feels extremely recycled and old-hat. There's so little to recommend about this novel - it's really a shame that 35 years after this world was created, it has so little to offer new and old readers. Brooks is comfortable in his ironclad paths of writing, but a little more imagination in Wards of Faerie would have made for a much better, more original novel. It might be written passably well - Brooks definitely has a vibrant setting to work with - but the lack of action, the lack of advancement is a major player in why this novel is such a miss. 

Sadly for a sometimes/used to be major fan, I found this to be a vastly unsatisfying latest effort from a fantasy juggernaut. In the plainest terms, Brooks' latest effort is a typical, very predictable, slowly paced, usually frustrating 2/5. Some credit is due for the richly imagined world (though that owes more to the multitude of novels before this that helped to fashion it). Far from the best to offer out of the series, Wards of Faerie could use some work - tightening, plotting, and pacing.


  1. Dang, such a fun cover... You said there are better books, what are they, if you don't mind recommending a few?

    1. You can't go wrong with the first series! The Sword of Shannara, The Elfstones of Shannara, the Wishsong of Shannara - all are strong and entertaining fantasy. I say start with those :)


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