Thursday, 31 July 2014
Review: The High Druid's Blade by Terry Brooks
Format: Hardcover / eBook
Released: July 8th, 2014
Legend has it that Paxon Leah is descended from the royals and warriors who once waged war with magical weapons. But those heroes are long gone now, and there is nothing enchanted about the antique sword that hangs above Paxon's fireplace. Paxon leads a quiet life - until extraordinary circumstances overturn his simple world... and rewrite his destiny. When his sister is abducted by a mysterious stranger, Paxon races to her rescue with the only weapon he can find. He is stunned to discover powerful magic unleashed within him - and within his ancestors' ancient blade. But his formidable new ability is dangerous in untrained hands. Paxon must master it quickly, as his near-fatal clash with a dark sorcerer won't be his last. Leaving behind home and hearth, he journeys to the keep of the Druid order to learn the secrets of magic and earn the right to become their sworn protector...
I'm not familiar with the Shannara series aside from the original trilogy, so I was quite excited to read The High Druid's Blade and return to a literary world I've previously enjoyed. It's the first standalone Shannara novel for almost twenty years and, for the most part, is a contained story that could also be the start of a new sequence. Prior to reading it I'd read a few mixed reviews, but honestly I enjoyed it. I'm on a real fantasy book kick at the moment so The High Druid's Blade was a welcome addition to my reading pile!
Paxon Leah is the descendent of royals and magic users, he inherited an old sword and lives a fairly normal life. One day his younger sister, Chrys, is abducted and Paxon finds himself armed with his sword, allied with the Druids and in pursuit of a powerful sorcerer called Arcannen. His determination to find Chrys leads him to uncover all kinds of secrets and age-old magics, including the power hiding within himself...
I'm a big fan of fantasy and magic, both of which are heavily featured in The High Druid's Blade. There's also a Gnome I'm now quite fond of, witches and legends that come to life - all typical elements found in fantasy fiction. Although I don't think this book does anything new, it's entertaining throughout and held my attention from start to finish. Occasionally it gets a bit slow and is too focused on exposition, (which is understandable given the huge world of Shannara), and I have to mention that there are some scenes of torture that seem a little gratuitous and unnecessary; the descriptions don't do much to further the story and I do think it could have been toned down.
Paxon is a character I took time to warm to, and he's someone whose head I would like to have been in. I bet his thoughts would have been fascinating to read about, but unfortunately it's all third person so the narrative can at times feel quite detached. I think Paxon's story could turn out to be fascinating, and I have a feeling there's a lot more to be revealed about his lineage and his future. If there does turn out to be another book featuring him, I'll certainly be reading it.
Overall, The High Druid's Blade is a good book and one that feels more accessible than the original Shannara trilogy. It doesn't seem as difficult to read, either because it's more modern or I've just got used to reading more fantasy. Reading this has made me want to go back and check out the other books in the longstanding Shannara series, and I'm sure there are more on the horizon - I really don't think this is the last we'll be seeing of Paxon Leah and that special sword of his.