Bloodfire Quest – Terry Brooks Latest in the Shannara Universe
I think Terry Brooks is someone you either enjoy or you don’t. I don’t meet too many people who are just wishy-washy about the long running epic fantasy series he does or his style. That said; I have been enjoying his books, off and on, for about twenty years now. So I would have to say that I am biased when it comes to this new series: The Dark Legacy of Shannara. It is indeed a darker tale of the world of Shannara, where pretty much most of his books have taken place the last 25 years. Of the several series he does, it is my favorite. Perhaps because it is a continuation of the one he began with, so many years ago.
But don’t think that you have to have been reading it all along to enjoy this one. It is true that it might help to have read the book before this one in this series: Wards of Faerie. The short stories he recently came out with, and that we just reviewed in the article Short Stories – Paladins of Shannara, might help you to get a feel for the world he builds. But even if you didn’t, you quickly pick up the threads of what went before. You will simply have everything in place that much faster if you begin with Wards.
The First Quest of Bloodfire Quest
There are two stories here, and they interweave about half way through the book. Initially we are with Arlingfant Elessedil, who is one of The Chosen. What this means is she has been chosen to care for the Ellcrys tree. It is more than just a tree, for its elemental magic is what keeps all that is evil trapped in The Forbidden Land and the elves, humans, dwarves and other folk safe from them. But the tree is dying, and the barrier between the two lands is weakened as a result. She will need a brave soul who is willing to sacrifice their life to take her place, and she has chosen Arlingfant.
While Arlingfant struggles to find a way to accept this fate, and it is a huge struggle, she goes to her closest friend and sister Aphenglow. She confides in her sister and asks for her aid in a quest. It will be dangerous, and its success may well doom Arlingfant but save her world. Accompanied by the brave elf hunter Camprian they set off.
It is the struggle here that is central to the story, and it is a struggle we will see again on the other side of that barrier in the other story thread. For we soon discover that both of these struggles are about the call of sacrifice. In the end, we may find out that even that ultimate sacrifice does not guarantee that all ends as you wish. We see in the second quest that part of the deal is that you must be willing to sacrifice without knowing if what you do will succeed.
The Second Quest of Bloodfire Quest
I warned you this series is a dark tale; much more is at stake here. One of the things I like about The Dark Legacy of Shannara is that although it is still an epic fantasy tale, there is some very human darkness underlying it. The second thread, as you may have guessed, takes place in The Forbidden Land. Here, a band of elves continue a quest to find a mysterious set of stones. These may play a crucial role, no one is really sure.
The quest began in the first book and now turns tragic when the party is attacked. A group splits off and is led by the Ard Rys, Kyber Elessedil. They stumble into an entrance to the Forbidden Land that proves just how weak the protection has become. The land is filled with dangerous creatures and we watch the group try again and again to find their way back to that unknown opening between the lands. For they discover that attack from The Forbidden Land is imminent, and they must warn of it. How she can lead them and if she can find her way back becomes a more important question than any missing Elfstones.
Heroic Adventures and Strong Characters are Central
I think Bloodfire Quest reflects Terry Brooks love of high fantasy, of heroic deeds and strong women. It is his characters that continue to bring me back to his books time and time again. Even if you have never picked up one of his books, I venture that this one will make his world accessible to you in no time.
The story has a bit of a cliffhanger ending, not that surprising in a series. I am not a fan of this kind of ending, but somehow I forgive it far more in Brook’s books. It also doesn’t hurt that I was galloping along in the story, turned the page and was shocked to see that was it! Now I can’t wait to see just where the quests may turn.
If you love daring adventures filled with strong heroic men and women, this is a great one to delve into. Fantasy at its best takes us away from our lives, and few do it with such a sense of grand sweeping adventure as Terry Brooks. Yes, he does get bogged down in his descriptions from time to time. Yes he can sometimes be a bit floral in his language.
All things I can forgive because to me it is part of the charm of his writing. He has been called the greatest living inheritor of Tolkien’s storytelling, and I feel that he deserves it. If you love that kind of adventure and have never tried him out before; I say do so here. This new series may just be the perfect place to jump in.