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The Gypsy Morph (The Genesis of Shannara, Book 3) by Terry Brooks
Review by Drew Bittner
Del Rey Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345484147
Date: 26 August 2008 List Price $27.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Now that the strongholds have fallen, armies of demons and once-men chase a ragged convoy of survivors, mostly children, across the blasted wastelands of the American Northwest. Led by Hawk, they seek a place of safety. Yet there are great dangers ahead before they can reach their unknown sanctuary...

The Loden Elfstone has been recovered, although at great cost: Knight of the Word Angel Perez lies gravely injured, with the Elf siblings Kirisin and Simralin stranded in a snowstorm. Meanwhile, Hawk and his girlfriend Tessa reunite with the Ghosts (a "family" of children from the streets of Seattle) and begin the journey toward their Promised Land.

Thus begins The Gypsy Morph, the third volume of Terry Brooks' Genesis of Shannara trilogy, which bridges his earlier Ghosts of the Sinissippi trilogy and his best-selling Shannara epic series-of-series. After reaching a pinnacle of technology, mankind has fallen, overwhelmed by problems of every sort--from pollution to civil war to the appearance of strange creatures seemingly from nowhere--and the long, slow collapse of civilization has come to its miserable end.

Hawk has learned that it is his destiny to lead humanity's survivors to a shelter, along the way, the heroes come to grips with love, loss, fear and frustration, along the way to a cataclysmic reckoning.

Terry Brooks continues to elevate his game in this trilogy. Genesis of Shannara represents a break from his past work, which has generally been more upbeat in tone. This trilogy might best be seen as his Empire Strikes Back, taking the characters into the darkest of Dark Ages between the fall of humanity and the rise of the Four Lands, where the Shannara books take place. It is naturally a grim setting, a post-apocalyptic world where hope is in short supply. Brooks is not afraid to go into some very dark places, showing how despair can unhinge even the strongest, but on any hero's journey, great darkness must be faced and overcome in order to earn a place in the light.

Hawk makes the transition from street kid to messianic Moses in this book, leading a rabble of children, adults and monstrously deformed others to an uncertain sanctuary. He struggles with his burdens, including the fear that his enemies will kill him before he can fulfill his destiny. He's become one of Brooks' most strongly-drawn heroic protagonists; his love for Tessa and his family of Ghosts--even when he must give up two of them at a parting of ways--is honest, heartfelt and real, while his fears for them are fully justified.

Logan Tom and Angel Perez are the last two Knights of the Word, serving a mystical Lady who opposes the entropic Void (patron-force of the demons). They are challenged by frustration, in that their best efforts seem to fail more than succeed, but they cannot stop lest everything be lost.

Kirisin and Simralin also have excellent paths in this novel, one achieving a nearly impossible goal while the other discovers more to the world than was ever dreamed possible. Panther, the surly and angry member of the Ghosts, also discovers something bigger than himself, when he finds something that defines him for the first time in his life.

Gask remains a cipher, aware of his minions' ambitions and playing them off against each other, while keeping his eye on the prize: destroying the final remnants of humanity and the Elves both. He's a great villain, with more "screen time" than any other Brooksian antagonist--and the extra time helps flesh out his personality, motives and methods, which is welcome.

Terry Brooks has delivered a rousing finale to this trilogy, bringing events nearly full circle in a sweeping tale of heroism amid a dying world. This trilogy might not be the favorite of his many fans, but it is a pinnacle of his career as a writer and creator.

Strongly recommended.

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