Terry Brooks has been publishing books since the 1970s and has written over two dozen set in his fantasy world of Shannara. The High Druid’s Blade is his newest, scheduled to be published in July 2014. I had the opportunity to read and review an advance reader copy.
The High Druid’s Blade is advertised as “the perfect jumping-in place for new readers,” and I am indeed a new reader of Terry Brooks. Before reading this book I knew nothing of Shannara. The story was easy to read and to get drawn into. Although there are made up names and words, they are not abundant to the point of distraction (although I did wonder how some of them were pronounced – Leofur? is it just like it reads? sounds odd). The introductory material is brief, only 8 pages, before we plunge into action on page 9.
The plot is not overly complicated. There are many characters, but for the most part the attention is focused on only a few. There are several strong female characters. I had a little trouble keeping all the Druids apart, although I was easily able to guess the name of the traitor in their midst long before the Big Reveal.
I did tire of the many references to things that happened in the past, no doubt nods to previous works. They sometimes felt a little forced, like Brooks was trying to make sure this book tied in to his older books for long-time readers. Although this is advertised as “the first stand-alone Shannara novel,” it obviously isn’t. The ending clearly points to at least one sequel.
I’ll admit, I was not wowed by The High Druid’s Blade. I know Brooks is one of the modern fantasy greats and I expected more somehow. It was good but not great. However, I probably shouldn’t judge an author by his 25th (or whatever it is) novel set in his fantasy world. I did enjoy reading The High Druid’s Blade and will be on the lookout for the sequel.