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Review: Latest from Terry Brooks will captivate and surprise readers

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"The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara" (Del Rey), by Terry Brooks

Terry Brooks is a grandmaster of the fantasy genre, and his latest will both captivate and surprise readers.

Epic fantasy usually details world building with a large cast of characters. The land of Shannara has been detailed extensively in past books, so Brooks takes a different route this time in "The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara," creating a more intimate and personal narrative with the story of Paxon Leah.

Paxon runs a shipping business, but dreams of exploring the world. He contemplates a better life for himself, his mother and his brash younger sister, Chrys. When Chrys overindulges, she ends up being abducted by a dark sorcerer named Arcannen. His powerful magic terrifies everyone, and his ultimate goal is to take out the power structure of the Druids, the watchers of the land.

A family heirloom, the Sword of Leah, is pulled off the mantle and Paxon rushes to grab his sister. He has no magic to help him with the rescue, and neither does his sister. What Paxon doesn't realize is that Arcannen doesn't want Chrys, he wants the sword, and he will do everything in his immense power to possess it.

Fans of Brooks' earlier work will be mystified not to see many of his usual side characters or heroes, family members of the Ohmsfords. Brooks has done an amazing job of conveying the sights, sounds and environment of the world with just a few characters. It's truly magical how he delivers these elements, and readers will feel like they have actually visited the land of Shannara when they turn the final page.

The novel is meant to stand by itself, and the story wraps up enough to leave the reader satisfied. Another book with these characters would be welcome, but it's nice to see a self-contained story from Brooks.

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Online:

http://terrybrooks.net/

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