Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! This is my journey, my first steps into the world of fictional writing. This blog is an online journal of sorts, where I share the progress of my work as well as what I have learned along the way. I hope you enjoy your time with me and that my experience may be of some use to you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

By the Book: The Elf Queen of Shannara

Welcome to my latest book review!

In my latest installment of By the Book, I will be reviewing “The Elf Queen of Shannara”, written by Epic Fantasy writer, Terry Brooks. Having found it in my pile of old books prompted me to give it another read.

I originally purchased this novel when came out in the early 90’s as part of my “English as a Second Language” class in high school. Being a fan of fantasy type stories, I was often looking for my next purchase in the Fantasy Fiction section of my local book store. The beautifully drawn cover art is what initially attracted me to this book, which is why I didn’t realise until I had started that this was part of a series and not a stand-alone novel (more on that later). Regardless, I had completely forgotten what happened in this book, which meant I got to enjoy it as if I was reading it for the first time.

This book is part of the “Heritage of Shananara” trilogy, which tells the tale of Wren Ohmsford, a Rover (a.k.a ranger) of elven descent, who is charged by the ghost of a powerful Druid named Allanon to find the Elven race and return them to the Four Lands. The Elves had been missing from the Four Lands for more than a hundred years, and no one in the Westlands seemed to know of them. With the help of her friend and mentor Garth, they follow clues which eventually lead them to the island of Morrowindl, a place populated by nightmarish creatures and under the constant threat of Killeshan; an active volcano. Braving the perilous landscape, the duo make it to the center of the island, where they find Arborlon, the lost city of elves. Wren convinces the queen (who turns out they are related) to magically take the city back to the mainland. Making friends along the way, Wren manages to save the elven race, and become their new queen in the process. The long and arduous journey makes for a riveting story.

Book Cover

Different Edition Cover

Back of the book:
"Find the Elves and return them to the world of Men!" the shade of the Druid Allanon had ordered Wren.
It was clearly an impossible task. The Elves had been gone from the Westland for more than a hundred years. There was not even a trace of their former city of Arborlon left to mark their passing. No one in the Westland knew of them -- except, finally, the Addershag.
The blind old woman had given instructions to find a place on the coast of the Blue Divide, build a fire, and keep it burning for three days. "One will come for you."
Tiger Ty, the Wing Rider, had come on his giant Roc to carry Wren and her friend Garth to the only clear landing site on the island of Morrowindl, where, he said, the Elves might still exist, somewhere in the demon-haunted jungle.
Now she stood within that jungle, remembering the warning of the Addershag: "Beward, Elf-girl. I see danger ahead for you . . . and evil beyond imagining." It had proved all too true.
Wren stood with her single weapon of magic, listening as demons evil beyond all imagining gathered for attack. How long could she resist?
And if, by some miracle, she reached the Elves and could convince them to return, how could they possibly retrace her perilous path to reach the one safe place on the coast?”

What I learned from this book:
  • Starting from the middle: As I mentioned above, The Elf Queen of Shannara is part of a trilogy, one that I did not read the beginning to. This had the unfortunate consequence of making certain aspects of the story difficult for me to understand, as I was not privy to certain information found in the other books. This was especially apparent when this story broke from the narrative following Wren, to go on and follow other characters from the other books. Luckily this does not happen too often, so it does not prevent the reader from enjoying the book.
  • Use of style: Brooks uses a variety of writing elements which are easily identifiable and help support his story. He puts particular focus on the setting, which at times becomes highly detailed. This slows the story pace considerably, in turn successfully increasing the tension. By having the story move slower, the audience also gets a feeling of just how long and tiring this trek truly is. Furthermore, by telling the story from Wren’s point of view, this allows vital information to be kept secret from the audience as well as the protagonist, which helps keep the mystery going until the very end of the story.
  • Looming Presence: There are many dangers constantly following our protagonists, but one that truly makes their presence known is Killeshan, the volcano. The threat of Killeshan erupting is a constant while on the island, reminding Wren and her friends that they must hurry in order to escape. even when not rumbling in the distance, Killenshaw makes his presence felt by affecting the setting, covering everything in ash and vog.
  • Dealing with Prophecies: One of the main points of this story is the Prophecy from the eleven seer Eowen and the Druid of Allanon. Wren spends the majority of the story trying to uncover her past, her lineage, the truth regarding the elves and her destiny. Most of this information is known by other members of her party, who refuse to tell her in the fear it would change her way of doing things, thus affecting the prophecy. I found this of particular interest, since my story will cover something similar.

Terry Brooks is one of the biggest-selling fantasy writers of the modern day. With over 21 million copies of his books in print, he has written 23 New York Times bestsellers during his writing career, most of which were about the fictional realm of Shannara. For those interested in reading more books from Terry Brooks, please check out his wiki description, containing all of his information (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Brooks) or his website (http://terrybrooks.net/).

For those interested in learning more about the “Shannara” universe, you can check out this user mader wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shannara. There you will find details about other books, games and so on.

        For those who are interested, here is the cover art of the book by artist Keith Parkinson, without the headlines.

In closing, I would like to thank everyone for the encouragement and for following my blog. And thank you to my wife Linda for the support.

Until next time!


Patrick Osborne

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