Friday Review: The Darkling Child (Defenders of Shannara #2) by Terry Brooks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Set five years after the first book in the Defenders trilogy, we find Paxon Leah more comfortable in his role as paladin of the Druid order. He has settled in to his life at Paranor and his duties to protect and defend the Druids from any and all danger. But the cunning sorcerer Arcannen has not forgotten his previous defeat at Paxon’s hands and is determined to have his revenge. When the minstrel Reyn Frosch is discovered to have the gift of the Wishsong, he comes to the attention of not only the Druids of Paranor, but of Arcannen as well. The Druids want to help Reyn understand and control his gift. Arcannen intends to use Reyn and the Wishsong to get his revenge on Paxon, the Druids, and the Federation.

Okay, so this installment of the Shannara series isn’t a big departure from the rest of the series. It is, at its heart, a quest tale. But, that’s a common enough thread in many epic fantasy stories. The Shannara series has kept me reading through all of the books because of the characters. Again, there are what might be called “stock” characters throughout the series, but they are all well-rounded and there is growth and change in most of the main characters in each story. Even Arcannen, the antagonist in this trilogy, goes through some changes and development as the tales progress. The worldbuilding is as good as ever, and Brooks’ writing engages and draws you into the story. The main plot runs well, and there are subplots and side stories woven through that keep the story interesting and moving along. The series is winding down (the last book has been published although I have a few to read before I get there) and I am eager to find out how the whole saga winds up.

The entire Shannara series is well-written and engaging epic fantasy that has held up well over the years, and continues to be a favorite of mine.

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