The High Druid’s Blade: The Defenders of Shannara by Terry Brooks is the tale of a young man, Paxon Leah, who journeys to save his kidnapped sister, Chrysallin, from a mysterious sorcerer named Arcannen. Paxon comes from a legendary family and discovers that he has inherited the magical blade of his ancestors. What follows is a tale of magic, intrigue, action, adventure, and secrecy.
Set in a world where magic has been banned by the ruling government called the Federation, things come to a shocking start when the relic sword hanging in Paxon Leah’s house proves to possess magical ability. However, Paxon doesn’t know how to wield such magic… yet. Only the isolated Druids have the answers to the many secrets of magic.
The first half of the novel is a bit slow, but things really pick up when Paxon is summoned to train in Paranor, the keep of the Druids. In Paranor, we learn more about the world of magic and the conflicts surrounding it. The plot really takes shape and all of the motivations of the characters, both bad and good, come to light. Secondary characters, such as Leofur Rai, Grehling Cara, and the Ard Rhys, provide colorful countenance to the personal tale of a brother trying to save his sister from doom. The antagonist, Arcannen, proves to be more complicated than I thought at first. There is more at play to the whole situation than what appears on the surface, and that will keep you turning the pages.
Druid’s Blade is more of a personal saga of Paxon’s life than the usual quest that Brooks often features in his novels. Brooks has been writing books set in the Four Lands of Shannara since the 1970s. Being a fan of Brooks’ earlier novels (The Sword of Shannara, The Elfstones of Shannara, and The Wishsong of Shannara), I couldn’t help but notice how different and modern Druid’s Blade was in comparison. Unlike his other ‘epic’ novels, Druid’s Blade is a way more personal story that takes place on a much smaller scale than his other books. Instead of a grand epic quest, it is more a personal growth story. But don’t count out the fun, action, mysteries, or grand fights — they are all there and brimming with excitement. Brooks ends this one on a cliffhanger, so stayed tuned for more…
For someone who has never read any of the Shannara books before, don’t be afraid of this book. In fact, it might even be a great place to introduce yourself to all of Brooks’ novels. Druid’s Blade is a great standalone book and will definitely throw you headfirst into the world of Shannara. I found this book refreshing and new in comparison to Brooks’ other novels. For any fans of fantasy/epic novels, this would certainly be a fun addition to your reading list! Comment below with your thoughts!
Druid’s Blade will be out on July 8, 2014, and is available for preorder at Amazon.com.