Sara: This section opens with us meeting Wren Ohmsford for the first time. A Rover woman with Elven features, she is an orphan whose only connection to the Ohmsfords of old is a leather sack of painted stones made to look like the legendary Elfstones. Wren and her mute Rover mentor Garth roam the Westlands—now absent of Elves—with the rest of the Rovers, hunting and tracking and living a life Wren is quite content with.
But then Cogline shows up and ruins it. As with the others, he tells her the dreams are true, and she must make her way to speak to Allanon. Hoping meeting with Allanon’s shade will give her some insight into her relatively unknown heritage, she agrees to go. Cogline travels with them to the Hadeshorn.
Once there, they meet up with Walker, Par, Coll, Morgan, Teel, and Steff, and the excruciating wait for their meeting day and time with Allanon begins.
As sun rises on the day of the new moon, nobody is sure what will happen. As it turns out, we get an Allanon infodump…from Cogline. Even from beyond the grave, Allanon has ensured the Ohmsfords get those infodumps. The heart of the story is Allanon had thought he’d saved the world from magic, expecting a resurgence of science after his death, but instead, the Shadowen and possibly some other evil force slipped into the vacuum. Without the Druids and the Elves, there’s nothing to stop them from bringing about the Armageddon of their dreams.
At last, the shade appears. Rather than answering anyone’s questions about family or druids or magic, Allanon gives each of them a quest. Par must search for the Sword of Truth and use it against the Shadowen. Wren must find the Elves and return them to the land of men. And Walker Boh must bring back Paranor and the Druids. If they don’t, the evil magics of the Shadowen will bring about the downfall of the Four Lands.
All are stunned and disbelieving of their charges, and Walker and Wren both leave—Walker angry and Wren dubious and resigned.
Par, however, isn’t sure. After a long discussion with Coll, Par realizes has already decided to go after the sword. Morgan and the Dwarves agree to go with him. But Par has no idea where to start. Morgan suggests they track down their resistance movement friend who saved them from the Federation, so they head to Varfleet to look him up. They run into some trouble with Federation soldiers, but after giving them the runaround, they end up where they need to be, and a blacksmith named Hirehone takes them deep into Parma Key, where the headquarters of the Movement is located.
They make their way up into the Jut, base for the movement, where they learn that the roguish rebel chieftain is Padishar Creel, the descended of Panamon Creel from Sword of Shannara. He is eager to help Par recover the Sword of Shannara, calling it fate that they should reenact the same quest their forefathers completed together. He even thinks he knows where it is.
After a few days as essentially prisoners of the Movement, Padishar takes Coll, Par, and Morgan to Tyrsis, legendary city of the battle against the Warlock Lord’s army took place while Shea fought the Warlock Lord. With the help of an associate of Padishar’s—a red-headed woman known as Damson Rhee—they make their way to People’s Park to scout for the Sword. As it turns out, the People’s Park they are in is not the original park. The park (and the bridge) are not the originals. The originals were lost to magic—dark magic—and are now located in a shrouded ravine known as the Pit. Damson Rhee warns them against going there—people go there and never return—but that’s not going to keep Padishar Creel from his fate. He plans for them to return to the Pit that night to go find the Sword.
So, the meeting with the shade of Allanon has finally happened, halfway through the book. And as always, he has epic missions for the unsuspecting Ohmsfords. They really should have known better. And honestly, I’m pretty excited about it. It’s a nice culmination of the previous trilogy, sending our adventurers out after talismans used in epic scale back in the day.
August: I’m really happy they have to go find the previous relics, and how it ties into the previous trilogy. The Sword of Truth from Sword, the Elves from Elfstones, and Paranor which was destroyed in Wishsong. It’s a neat bit of storytelling that connects this series to the last, without falling into the trap of just retelling the same story.
Sara: I am a little dubious about the whole, science/magic vacuum thing. I remember thinking that was cool when I read this the first time, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me now. I think I’d have been less put off if somehow some seed of evil magic survived and now it’s back because the Federation has beaten down all the good magic that might have combated it. I don’t need some big cosmic explanation that felt a little forced in the telling.
August: I still think it’s kind of cool! Or at least appropriate for the books, which always have a balance of science and magic. From ancient technological monsters and security to the powders and spells of Cogline, I like that there’s a balance between the two that ebbs and flows depending on the time period.
Sara: Speaking of Cogline, I am a little curious about where he got off to. I know he insisted his part of this was over once the Shannara scions made it to Allanon, but that can’t be the last we see of him. The reveal about Cogline teaching Walker seems kind of obvious, as the hints about that have been rather heavy handed. I don’t know why anyone was surprised, especially Walker when people figured it out.
Walker’s reaction was rather petulant, although I’m sure there’s some backstory there we don’t know yet. I thought it interesting that he said he’d rather give his hand than have the Druids back. Foreshadowing!
August: I had a little laugh at Walker throwing a fit against Allanon’s shade, but it does show us something about him. He definitely has some baggage dealing with Allanon and the druids that I’m sure we’ll learn in time. It also implies he’s got some power. Even though he was ineffective, just trying to impose his will on the ghost of the most powerful person in the series tells us that he’s got some moxie at the very least.
Sara: I’m a little disappointed Par is our main viewpoint character right now. He’s kind of a brat, and his emotions are all over the place. He was excited to meet Allanon, but then horrified in the next paragraph. He was jealous of Wren for thinking up a smart question, chiding himself for not asking it. And how dumb was he that it took him so long to realize who Padishar was? He seems like a foolish, impulsive little shit. I like Coll much better. Maybe he’ll get better as the story goes on, but I honestly have no memory of him as a character, so I’m not optimistic.
August: In the tradition of Ohmsford main character, Par kind of sucks, and is surrounded by much more interesting characters. Some of the things I can forgive for being, I think, intended character traits. A little petulance is probably expected when you are the only person in generations who has magic. It’s satisfying whenever Coll calls him out, though.
Sara: Something else I’ve noticed is that Brooks still has the whole man/girl dynamic going on, which still bugs me. It stuck out the most when he referenced Steff as just a Dwarf, and Teel as the “Dwarf girl.” That was especially jarring since I do not consider Teel to be girlish in the least. At least Par gets called “Elf-boy” by Damson Rhee (and says he doesn’t like it: imagine that!). I have to give Brooks credit for including more women, but there still seems to be a painful lack of them, and they don’t seem to be treated with the same inclusion or respect, by the other characters or Brooks himself.
I guess this is mostly obvious with Teel. What is her purpose in the story? I get being a stoic, mysterious, monosyllabic Dwarf, but short of one interaction, she’s just been window dressing. It’s gone beyond a character trait and has started to feel just lazy, like Brooks didn’t know what to do with her. She doesn’t talk, she doesn’t react. She’s just kinda there. I really hope her purpose in the story comes out soon. And I hope Damson Rhee gets a good role going forward. I do really like Wren’s character so far, as well. I’m glad she gets her own book soon.
August: I wish I remembered what the deal is with Teel, but I assume we’ll find out at some point. Unlike the original trilogy, which had a lot of disposable characters, we have several books to spend with these characters and hopefully learn all their juicy backstories.
Sara: At any rate. Three quests, three books, right? I know Walker and Wren both get their own book, and so far, this book is just kind of setup. Although there’s still a lot of book left, so maybe it’ll wrap up Par’s story in his search for the Sword, and the fourth book in this series will be putting it all together and freeing the Four Lands from the tyranny of the Federation?
August: I think that’s the general gist of it, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not as neatly delineated as that, but I guess well see!
Sara: I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m mostly just curious if they’re about to find the real Sword of Shannara next chapter.