Author Topic: Shannara  (Read 2332 times)

Brother Harmonius

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Shannara
« on: October 27, 2008, 11:13:13 PM »
I admit, it's been decades since I first read Terry Brooks' The Sword of Shannara, and only a couple decades since Elfstones of Shannara. But I recently finished the third book in the series, The Wishsong of Shannara. I've always been a little patronizing toward the Shannara series, which has the unfortunate distinction of being the quintessential Tolkien knock-off epic fantasy series.

Yet, in spite of the obvious LOTR template, Brooks manages to introduce some thought provoking and original concepts. In Wishsong, one such concept is that of the Ildatch, the granddaddy of all Book of Shadows, the sum total collection of all evil magic that has ever been.

Brooks isn't very good at character development. The hero of the story, young Jair Ohmsford weeps for all the memories of the first of the fallen members of the quest, Helm, the Borderman Giant. Yet, we can't weep along with Jair, because Brooks never gave us the opportunity to know Helm. He's something of a phantom limb to the reader, we know he was a living, vital member of the adventure, if only Brooks had remembered his manners and introduced him to us, instead of leaving him on the outside of our little punchbowl circle.

The way Brooks paints our meeting with the Ildatch, however, is another thing altogether. I could just see Brin, Jair's older sister stepping down into the black grotto, barely torch-lit, and looking upon an unholy dais and maleficent altar, upon which is a rectangle of blackness so utterly absorbing of all light, it is only known by the absence of its visibility.

I suppose the Ildatch was comparable to the One Ring, except that the book was both the prop and the intelligent animus, where the ring was only the prop, an extension of Sauron, the embodiment of intelligence behind the crafting of the ring.

Where the ring was designed by Sauron, the Ildatch developed out of the collective efforts of every black spell that had been cast or contributed. It represented an anthology of collective evil.