Friday Review: Bearers of the Black Staff (Genesis of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks

Bearers of the Black Staff (Legends of Shannara, #1)My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With the last of the Shannara novels slated to land this fall, I decided I should probably try to catch up on the series. I have most of the books, but have fallen behind on reading them. I am trying to remedy that now.

This is the first in the Legends of Shannara duo in the overall series. In this, we pick up the story from the Genesis of Shannara trilogy, but move 500 years in the future. Now, the protective mist that kept the survivors of the Great War safe is failing. Sider Ament, the last of the Knights of the Word, has wandered the mountain limits of the protective walls and has seen the failing. Two human Trackers, Pan and Prue, follow the trail of two unknown beasts and discover that they have passed through the failed wall and killed two of their tracker friends. They follow the beasts and are saved by Sider. He enlists them to bring the message of the mist’s failing to all the races that live in the protected valley. But the message isn’t well-received, especially by the religiously fanatic cult that believes the Hawk will return to lead them from the valley when it is safe. But it is definitely not safe in the greater world, and if something isn’t done soon, that world will invade the safety of the valley and put everyone’s lives in danger.

Okay, so yeah, these installments in the Shannara series are basically all quest stories. They follow a familiar formula, have their stock characters and plotlines. But, really, what long running series doesn’t? I know there are a lot of people who don’t like the series and may shake their heads at my liking it. But, hey, you probably like Wheel of Time, or Game of Thrones, or the Thomas Covenant books, and I didn’t. We all have our likes and dislikes.

As for this story, it was good. I like the way Brooks has tied so many bits and pieces of the earlier stories into these later books, and we can see the development of the world and the various races that inhabit it. Questions from earlier in the series are being answered (not all, but what fun would that be?). As time has gone on, Brooks’ writing style has gotten tighter and there is less rambling, extraneous detail and more concise story. The plot moves along at a reasonable pace, and there is a good amount of action. There is loss and sadness, but also hope and triumph. It’s a decent story and adds to the whole picture. I liked it.

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