Brooks Strikes Again
I would like to thank Del Rey & NetGalley for a copy of this e-ARC to review. While I received this ebook for free, that has no impact upon the honesty of my review.
Goodreads Teaser: "The third stand-alone Shannara novel in the Defenders of Shannara series, following The High Druid's Blade and The Darkling Child, easily accessible to new readers of epic fantasy.
The daughter of a reviled sorcerer, Leofur is nothing like her dreaded father. When her life-partner, Paxton Leah, leaves on a dangerous mission, Leofur protects Paxon's sister. When she is abducted Leofur is forced to choose between saving Paxon's from a mission gone badly awry, or hiring the services of the best tracker in the world to go after her life-partner's sister."
Once again Brooks brings us back to Shannara and it's wonderful world, peopled by amazing characters. This time we follow Leofur, Chrysallin, and Paxton on their separate journeys, each attempting to ultimately reunite with the others. Though this book is billed as Leofur's story, Paxton and his sister Chrysallin both have equal roles to play, or very close to it.
I liked Leofur's forthright personality, her determination, and willingness to look at things and really give them the attention they deserved. That was true of her friends, her history, and most especially herself. She never rushes into things, but slowly she always reaches the right decision for herself. And she's smart enough to know that she can't be something for others if it isn't also providing at least as much satisfaction for her, though for a time she looses her way. In fact, her journey to rescue Chrysallin is also a journey of self-discovery; though of course that is clearly not her intention at the beginning of this self-appointed rescue mission.
Chrysallin is the one we know the least about, at least in this book. But she had her own story, so in this one she is relegated to supporting cast. It's a position she plays well, although she does step more actively into the story from time to time. Rather than having a heavily interactive role, in this she is mostly living in her own mind. She is a stalwart friend, but I found her need for others to perpetually rescue her a tad pathetic.
Then there's Paxton. As Chrysallin's brother he is obsessed with her protection, as Leofur's life partner he is, well, he's rather lacking. To promise to be a life partner and never be with said partner, that right there screams 'problem' in the world of romantic relations. The fact that he always has, and always will, put his job ahead of his partner tells us all we need to know about his use to Leofur. That's not to say that he's a bad guy, because he's anything but; he's simply not cut out for a committed relationship to anyone with a life of their own.
Though their roles begin small, both Imric, the shape-shifter that Leofur enlists to help rescue Chrysallin, and Miriya, a Druid that is part of the group Paxton has been tasked with protecting, grow to be powerful characters in their own right. Their roles are rather fluid, changing as the story evolves.
The adventures of all parties are entertaining, scary, and moving, in no particular order. They are pretty much true to form for books by Mr. Brooks and promise to engage the reader and keep you wrapped up in the story. Nothing happens without a reason, even if as the reader we don't see the reason for several chapters to come. It's so nice watching each story come full circle, or as close an approximation as is possible. So although this book is part of a series it could be read as a stand-alone without to much trouble. As always Brooks has created compelling people to populate his much loved world of Shannara, using them to grab the reader and sweep them into the latest adventures taking place there.