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The Black Elfstone: The Fall of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Cover Artist: Map: Russ Carpenter
Review by Jon Guenther
Del Rey Kindle Edition  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553391480
Date: 13 June 2017

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

It's difficult to remember a time growing up when the worlds of Terry Brooks's Shannara series weren't recommended reading for fans of epic fantasy. It will be more difficult to think about this as the beginning of the end of this prolific arc of world and characters. What wasn't difficult was devouring this first book in the final series. The Fall of Shannara is a fantastic start, and quite honestly could go down as some of Mr. Brooks's finest work to date. I was literally enthralled from page one, and immediately wrapped up with the characters and the story. From a strong opener to the comparatively cliffhanger ending, this novel held my attention quite like no other epic fantasy I've read in some time.

I don't know that I would completely agree that new fans will be able to pick this up. While it stands well enough on its own, there is so much nuance and earlier references that it may require readers who just have to know how it all began to read the earlier books first. But the novel is no less brilliant a start for that fact, and it really moves along at a fantastic clip.

One con was the internal monologue of a key antagonist in the story (and there are actually several in this book, some of which you don't even know until close to the end on which side they actually fall). To prevent spoilers, I will merely point out that the story thread for this character felt way too much like telling and less like showing. In some regards, this character is quite likely more insane and less evil, but that point got somewhat beat to death. The character is on a vengeance hunt, but it never really becomes clear why. Maybe it is an attempt by the author to foreshadow, but it didn't quite land with me as genuine. I hope a deeper look into this character will bring clarity.

For all the rest, The Fall of Shannara stands for me as one of the best books in this saga, and I think any Shannara or fantasy fan will agree. Terry Brooks has definitely outdone himself with this one, and I'm eager for the remaining three books to be as good as how this one started.

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