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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Guest Review: Bloodfire Quest by Terry Brooks (Reviewed by Ryan Lawler)


Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read chapter one HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Elves Of Cintra
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Dark Wraith Of Shannara
Read Ryan's review of Wards Of Fairie

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Terry Brooks published his first novel, The Sword of Shannara, in 1977. It was a New York Times bestseller for more than five months. He has published over two dozen bestselling novels since, including the Magic Kingdom series, the Word and the Void trilogy and, further installments in his Shannara series. A practising attorney for many years, Terry now writes full-time and lives with his wife, Judine, in Washington state.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: The quest for the long-lost Elfstones has drawn the leader of the Druid order and her followers into the hellish dimension known as the Forbidding, where the most dangerous creatures banished from the Four Lands are imprisoned. Now the hunt for the powerful talismans that can save their world has become a series of great challenges: a desperate search for kidnapped comrades, a relentless battle against unspeakable predators, and a grim race to escape the Forbidding alive. But though freedom is closer than they know, it may come at a terrifying price.

Back in the village of Arborlon, the mystical, sentient tree that maintains the barrier between the Four Lands and the Forbidding is dying. And with each passing day, as the breach between the two worlds grows larger, the threat of the evil eager to spill forth and wreak havoc grows more dire. The only hope lies with a young Druid, faced with a staggering choice: cling to the life she cherishes or combat an army of darkness by making the ultimate sacrifice.

FORMAT/INFO: Bloodfire Quest is 368 pages long and is the middle volume in the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy. March 12, 2013 marked the US Hardcover/Ebook publication of Bloodfire Quest via Del Rey Books. It was also released in Hardcover/e-book format in the UK on 12th March, 2013 by Orbit Books.


ANALYSIS: Bloodfire Quest is the second book in the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy. It follows on immediately after the events of Wards of Faerie, a book I reviewed for Fantasy Book Critic late last year where I said it was one of my top five Shannara books. Expectations were set, expectations were not met, but I still had a fun time reading it.

Bloodfire Quest follows four groups of surviving members from the first book and sets about carving them to pieces George R. R. Martin style. We have the druid expedition stuck in the Forbidding, we have the rest of the druid expedition that never made it into the Forbidding in the first place, we have the Elessedil sisters and friends who have been placed on a strict timeline in order to save the Ellcrys, and we have the Federation who are being reshaped under the leadership of a new Prime Minister. Each group goes about their business and its not pretty, with Brooks taking what hope they have left and completely crushing it. This is not what you expect from a Shannara novel, and it paints a bleak picture for the future.

If you've read the twenty-plus preceding Shannara novels, you will have a pretty good idea what to expect. So let’s talk about the major difference between this book and every other Shannara book that has come before it - the indiscriminate killing of characters for the entire duration. No character is sacred, from the red shirted airship workers to the many supporting characters, and even main viewpoint characters. This is a massive shift for Brooks - it was very surprising to read, and kudos for playing with people’s expectations. That said, the deaths often felt cheap and undeserved, a plot device designed specifically to "raise the stakes". I wasn't able to completely buy into this, and I know I preferred the scenes where Brooks was busy raising stakes personal to the characters. There are worse things you can do to a character than kill them.

To be honest, I don't have much more to add. I think the strongest writing occurred in the final 60 pages. I think this book and the trilogy as a whole is far too small for the story Brooks is trying to tell. I was disappointed that three of the four major plotlines that make up this book are recycled from previous Shannara books. But, I am still happily invested in the story being told. I can see where this trilogy is heading and I would like to see how this all turns out. I'll see you all again for the conclusion - I'm hoping it will be a good one.

CONCLUSION: Bloodfire Quest is a good Shannara novel, but it doesn't meet the expectations set by Wards Of Faerie. It was fun exploring the world of Shannara through the lens of four disparate groups, but the amount of blood shed during this book was surprising, and the recycling of old plots was a little disappointing. The ending of book two leaves the story in great shape, and I am interested to see how Brooks decides to conclude this trilogy.

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GUEST REVIEWER INFO: Ryan Lawler is someone who likes keeping busy, working a full time job whilst trying to find time for completing a Master's degree, playing tennis, reading speculative fiction, romancing the missus, keeping up with his video game addiction and writing stories.

Ryan was born and brought up in Australia and has worked as an avionics and software engineer. He lives with his family in the US currently and you can find more about him on his website and follow him on twitter @RyanJLawler. He also frequently reviews books on Fantasy Book Review.

Fantasy Book Critic would like to thank Ryan for his review & for his time in spite of his hectic schedule.

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