Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: 'The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara' by Terry Brooks

On re-reading this trilogy, which consists of Ilse Witch, Antrax and Morgawr, I was struck by the way in which it used all the classic tools of fantasy to brutally demolish the importance of those tools for both characters and authors. Ancient magic, destiny, heroic quests, monsters, scheming villains and grand battles all appear in the trilogy - but lead nowhere. At every point the narrative hinges on the personality, history and choices of the characters, and the victories won by the heroes are in the choices they make.

As a Standard Fantasy Trilogy (tm), Jerle Shannara is decent fun. At times it's a little predictable and Brooks enjoys chapter cliffhangers and 'haha the omniscient narrator will not tell you this thing so that it will be a surprise later' a bit too much, but the characters are interesting and work well together. Brooks spreads around the trauma and death but always in a way that develops the characters and their individual arcs. This trilogy isn't revolutionary. But it is a solid piece of writing and you could do much worse for your fantasy reading.

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