Backlist Two Minute Review: Paladins of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Author: Terry Brooks
Genre: fantasy
Series: The Original Shannara Trilogy #0.5; Allanon's Quest #1, Shannara #9.5
Pages: 40 (Nook ARC edition)
Published: July 2012
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 3/5

The legendary hero Allanon takes center stage in the first of three gripping new stand-alone eBook short stories set in the world of the fantasy fiction phenomenon that is Shannara—by beloved New York Times bestselling author Terry Brooks.

The history is thus: The once-Druid Brona, seduced by his pursuit of dark magic, was forever transformed into the Warlock Lord—whose evil would be the downfall of the Four Lands and the death of the Races. Against him, the Elven King Jerle Shannara wielded the fabled sword that bore his surname and triumphed. Or so it was believed. But though the Dark Lord was driven out . . . he was not destroyed.

The Druid Allanon knows only too well the prophecy passed down to him by his late master: that eventually the Warlock Lord will return. Now, after hundreds of years, that day seems imminent. And the time is at hand for the Sword of Shannara to once more be brought forth from its sanctuary to serve its ancient purpose. All that remains is for a blood descendent of the Elven house of Shannara to carry the blade into battle.

With ever more portents of doom on the horizon, Allanon must seek out the last remaining Shannara heir, who alone will bear the burden of defending the Four Lands’ destiny. But with agents of darkness closing in from behind, unexpected enemies lying in wait ahead, and treachery encroaching on every side, there can be no certainty of success. Nor any assurance that this desperate quest will not be the Druid’s last.

(Wow. That blurb is almost as long as the short story itself!)

I admit it. I'm a Shannara fan, for all its blatant borrowing from The Lord of the Rings, for all its cliched and predictable plotlines, I can usually find a lot to enjoy in Terry Brook's fertile imagination. I've read more than my far share of the Shannara series in all its spin-offs and sideways travels, and though it's far from great literature, or even great fantasy, this short ebook reminds me of why I had such fondness for this author, and this widepsread world he has so lovingly created. 

Though obviously this falls far short from my all-time Shannara favorites (those would be The Elfstones of Shannara (I was actually scared by one of the 'demon' antagonists in this - the Changeling - so much so I had to stop reading it at night haha), the Wishsong of Shannara (Garet Jax is and forever will be one of the most badass fantasy characters) and the Elf-Queen of Shannara (Garth!), this forty-page journey with series staple Allanon is short, simple, and easy to digest. More of a bite-size snack rather than a full meal, but still Paladins of Shannara manages to bring back the full Shannara nostalgia. Fans of the series and books before will eat it up -- and appreciate the sneak peek into the next in this farspread, always expanding series, Wards of Faerie -- but, it's not the best place to start reading for any reader not familiar with the well-worn tales that Brooks has published. It's heavy on the history and mythology we all know so well from The Sword of Shannara on, with a lot of explanation and exposition to remind readers of what has come before, but is later in the chronology. 

Though a bit thin on plot and filled with repetition, this is a diverting and engaging read for fans of Terry Brooks and his beloved, familiar characters. Anyone ever curious about how Gandalf Allanon was sent on the path to find Shea Ohmsford and stop the Warlock Lord for good will find just that in this quickly read and enjoyed novella. And now I want to go reread all my old favorites and prep myself for the release of the next book in this long-running series. While the novels can be a bit formulaic in their plots, it's the characters (Morgan Leah, Quentin Leah, Wren, Garet Jax, Garth, Eventine Elessedil) that I remember most and keep me coming back for more. 

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