Date: Sun, 24 Mar 1996 00:30:03 -0800 (PST)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.written
From: (Tia'RaHu)
Subject: First King of Shannara: SPOILERS

Well, it actually isn't that bad. In fact, it's pretty good, especially for a prequel which is basically a rehash of stuff we already know.

Spoilers follow. You have been warned.

Okay. First of all, I think the Coincidental Involvement of certain parties' ancestors was stretching things a bit, but since it's kinda cute I'll forgive it.

Speaking of ancestors, I think it would have been cool if Allanon had been Mareth and Kinson's son, but then we couldn't watch Allanon assist Bremen in all the fighting without waiting for at least a decade to go by in the book. Not to mention that would mean that Allanon's granpa was a Skull Bearer or some equally evil, nefarious beastie. And that would mean that Rone and Morgan Leah, through Shaerl (sp?) Ravenlock, are not just descended from this beastie (they are), but distantly related to our favorite Druid as well.

But now that we do know about all the Leahs after Menion being descended from the only other Druid besides Bremen to survive, you have to wonder just what it is that the Sword of Leah is doing. How many of the Leahs over the centuries had magic? Did Rone and Morgan? Is the Sword of Leah some kind of magical focus, like Mareth's staff? And etc.

Four and a half Druids are better than one and half.
My, but these Druids are a mixed lot. They're certainly a lot calmer than Allanon. Cogline didn't really need to show up, but oh well. I really, really liked Tay, but don't get too attached to him or the Dwarven Druid - you just know something's gonna happen to them, especially when they give their travelling companions timely, accurate information :->. I especially enjoyed Tay's friendship with Jerle (who turns out to have some excuse for not finishing off Brona), and I both sympathized with and wanted to hit Jerle over the head for his constant angsting over the loss of his best friend. And for appointing the local psychic as First Minister, when the guy had no real qualifications as far as I could tell ("I sense - that we should sign this trade agreement!").

I sure don't think much of the Home Guard. Letting dozens of members of the Royal Elven family be slaughtered like that. Tsk, tsk.

Which raises a new question. Are the Ohmsfords actually descended from Jerle? They may not be, but rather from the two boys who survived the Royal massacre and were adopted by Jerle, their second or third cousin.

Funny Bremen didn't notice Tay at the truth-instilling ceremony. (Perhaps Tay hadn't been gone long enough?) But then Bremen couldn't be surprised when Jerle tells him what's happened. And funnier still that Tay and Risca don't show up in the last scene, when Bremen leaves. Just my personal quibbles.

There's some of those Big Battles where we get the tactics explained to us, there are no faithful Prince of Leah sidekicks, although both Mareth and Bremen are from there, and I now think Allanon was a fairly normal child :-). One last complaint - subvert. Subvert, subvert, subvert. Subvert here, subvert there - doesn't Terry Brooks know any synonyms for this word? Oh, wait, he used the word 'subjugate' on page 119. So, on a scale of 1 to 10, I give this book a 7.

"I like and respect Drizzt Do'Urden. That's why he's still alive."
Elminster of Shadowdale (GenCon '94)
"If you don't write it down it didn't happen."
Jack Ryan (_Debt of Honor_)

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