Wishsong of Shannara: Chapters 25-32

August: The fight commences! Allanon vs the Jachyra. The monster is stronger, faster, and more resilient, but Allanon has the druid magic on his side. Every time the Jachyra is hurt, it feeds on the pain and becomes stronger. Eventually it becomes too strong for Allanon, and Rone Leah raises the magical Sword of Leah to get involved. He is quickly wounded though, and the sword is thrown into the river. But the distraction is enough for Allanon to defeat the Jachyra, shoving his hand down the beasts throat and filling it with fire.

But the fight has taken a great toll on Allanon. Mortally wounded, he asks Brin to bring him to the water of the river, which calms as they approach. The shade of Breman rises, and takes Allanon with him to whatever lies beyond. The last of the Druids has left the Four Lands.

Brin drags Rone away from the battle, following the river. Rone is suffering from the Jachyra’s poison, and is nearly dead by the time they reach a trading post filled with unscrupulous characters. During the night, the two are assaulted by a group of trappers, but Brin uses the wishsong to disable them and make them run. She also uses the wishsong to heal Rone’s poison, and she has to come to grip with the fact that the wishsong is more than a toy, that it can be used for good, or evil. Breman named her Savior and Destroyer, and the wishsong was indeed both.

As Rone heals, they learn of a man named Cogline who has lived in the area his entire life and knows it better than anyone else. Brin must pass through the Eastlands, through the Darklin Reach and Olden Moor to reach her destination. When they find Cogline though, he’s a crazy old hermit who has no interest in helping them. Fortunately, living with Cogline is a girl named Kimber Boh, and a giant Moor Cat named Whisper. Together, they all convince Cogline to help, but Rone is insistent on finding the Sword of Leah first, or else he will be unable to protect Brin.

Kimber leads them to the Grimpond, a tricky shade who may be able to help them find the sword, if Brin is clever enough to see fact from fiction. The shade appears as a mirror image of Brin herself. The shade tells her many things, though how much is true is uncertain. It claims the Illdatch is the source of evil through the Four Lands, having gave power to the Warlock Lord originally. It claims the Mord Wraiths are in thrall to the wishsong, of eyes watching their journey, and of Brin and Rone’s deaths. But it will not tell her what she wants to know, so she traps the shade with the wishsong. Thus she learns that Gnomes have the sword, and a secret way into Graymark, the castle of the wraiths.

Meanwhile, Jair has been captured by Stythys the Mwellret and taken to a Gnomish prison keep. The Mwellret wants Jair’s magic, and will leave him imprisoned until he gets it. As a parting gift, the Grimpond shows Brin an image of Jair, nearly falling under the sway of Stythys…

Sara: Jair, the perpetual prisoner. Seriously, he’s been captive of at least three different parties at this point. You think he’ll actually manage to rescue himself this time, or will one of his “dead” party members rescue him? Goes to show that characters that show some agency are a bit more likeable, because at this point I just can’t even with Jair.

August: So, I have to admit, I was disappointed in the Jachyra. It just seemed kind of generic of a monster. Usually, the monsters in these books are more creative, whether it’s part mechanical or something more unique like the Reaper and Changling. Even the Kraken from the last section was a unique take on the monster. The Jachyra is… what exactly? Just an unstoppable demon. I remember not liking it the first time I read it, and I didn’t like it this time either. Allanon’s death coming at the hands of such a try-hard creature was disappointing.

Sara: I get that it was supposed to be scary because it feeds on pain, its own and others, and it also poisons anything it wounds. But yeah, for some reason, none of that was as scary as the Reaper or the Changeling. Or even the Kraken. Which you know coming from me means something, since I wasn’t all that impressed with the Kraken before this.

August: I suppose something should be said for Allanon. He’s been the central figure of the trilogy, and now he’s gone, the one consistency between books. While on the surface, Allanon was a Gandalf rip-off, he became much more through the three books. The glimpses into his thought process was some of my favorite character bits in the trilogy. He had to fight his own doubts about his own actions as well as extremely powerful enemies. The Druids in Terry Brook’s books are some of his best, most well-rounded characters, and they start with Allanon.

Sara: Yeah, Allanon’s growth this book especially has been really interesting. And it will weird to not have him in the books anymore. I will admit that his death scene did evoke some feelings in my eyes. His interaction with Brin after the battle was really well done.

August: Rone Leah is a whiny bitch. I’m tired of him. Menion Leah must be so disappointed in his grandson.

Sara: Noooo kidding. Poor Menion. The best of the Leahs. No Leah will ever be able to live up to him.

August: It’s interesting where these books show their age in character tropes. Weapon Master Garet Jax is the most badass super cool dressed in black character ever. The Jachyra is the most badass super cool monster ever. Rone is a whiny emo kid who puts his own concerns over his girlfriend’s. All these characters are supposed to be taken seriously, I think, but it’s just impossible to do these days. In gaming, characters like that are called Edge Lords. Because they’re so edgy. This book, much more than the other two in the series, falls into Edge Lord tropes, and when we finish, I feel like that’s going to be my main issue with it.

Sara: Yeah, I wonder how much of Brooks and his characterization is purposefully using those tropes. As with Allanon, we know he’s capable of writing good, original characters. Brin is another good example, as well. After the Grimpond scene, I’m actually kind of scared of Brin! She has a lot of power and nobody really to keep her in check, especially with Allanon gone. That’s something Brooks has done really well in this novel. Brin’s growth from innocent girl with “toy” magic to a person who is willing to do what she thinks needs to be done to achieve her quest, even if it means using her powers to manipulate. The flashes of rage, which I found kind of annoying at first, are good clues to Brin’s surprisingly volitle nature.

But then you have Cogline, the crazy old dude. I know I harp on Brooks for his show don’t tell with character development, but after trying to convince us Cogline was crazy using dialogue, I prefer him just telling us. Having him yell the same thing over and over and giggle incessently are…well, really not great ways to show insanity. Although I do remember that it’s all an act, so who knows. In general, though, as great as he is describing setting and creating a mood, scary creatures and holy shit moments, his characterization could use some work, at this point.

August: One final thing I wanted to talk about here. Elfstones in general, and these sections in particular, start to set things up for future books. I’m not sure how much Brook’s had planned in advance, but this section shows the passing of the old guard (Allanon) and the beginning of the new. There’s a bit of a prophecy with the Grimpond, where it says that Brin’s shadow will be the darkest and longest reaching of her families legacy. It could just be refering the power of the wishsong in this book, but it’s also foretelling what comes in the next few series.

Sara: Oh yeah! That’s right. And I can only imagine that Walker Boh and Kimber Boh have something to do with each other. And I remember Cogline becoming important later on. So yes! I think he absolutely knew what he was going as far as planning for future books. It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

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