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The Fall of Shannara:
The Black Elfstone
by Terry Brooks
Del Rey, $28.00, 318 pages
Published: June 2017

Word is, Terry Brooks is resolved to orchestrate the end as well as the creation of the world of Shannara, providing a complete story arc with an absolute finale.  This is how the end begins.

The Druids are the guardians of Shannara, and their Keep at Paranor is the seat of their power.  Divisiveness amongst the druids can hardly be a sign of anything good, and their inability to perceive the wrongness of their discord may prove their undoing.

Tarsha Kaynin can use the power of the wishsong.  Fleeing familial disappointment, she wants to become an apprentice druid but has to prove her potential to Drisker Arc before he’ll undertake training her.  Even then, she’ll be forced to choose between obligation and allegiance.  And ultimately, her fate may be the strangest of any in the land.

Dar Leah, a highlander, is an exiled blade but a true ally.  His journey of discovery, and his ability to not be deluded by deceptions, may be the key to preserving whatever can be salvaged from destruction.

Drisker Arc may be the greatest druid of all times, but that doesn’t mean he is trusted so much as feared, and being feared can have unfortunate consequences.  Even he may not be able to withstand the carefully contrived sequence of betrayals, assassination attempts, and forced choices that his nemesis has devised.

Here is high fantasy shading into science fiction. As an End of Days epic, of course there will be tragedy and the death of favorite characters, yet there are moments of keen humor, usually in dialogues concerning the failures of assassins from Orsis Guild.  Some of the best depictions are of the magical creatures that befriend Drisker, and by extension Tarsha; some of the losses are excruciatingly poignant.  I can hardly wait for the continuation.   – Chris Wozney

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