Monday, May 08, 2006

Book 30: Angel Fire East

Terry Brooks wraps up his Word/Void Trilogy with Angel Fire East.  It is now some fifteen years after the events of Running With the Demon and ten since A Knight of the Word.  John Ross is still fighting the good fight, trying to stop the small events that he knows will tip the world closer to the power of the Void.  He dreams of the future, of a world in ruin and of the events that could hold off that future.  He learns that a Gyspy Morph will be born, a being born of wild and uncontrolled magic that could tip the balance in the favor of the Void if Ross fails in captured the Morph.  It is raw magical energy in a physical form.  Standing in Ross's path is Findo Gast.  Gast is a demon sent to stop John Ross and to claim the Morph for the Void.  He's a mean one, Mr. Grinch. 
Ross knows that one of his only options to keep the Morph safe is to go to Nest Freemark.  Nest is a woman who has magic of her own, one of the few alive who do.  She was also involved as a 14 year old in the events of RWtD.  Ross travels to Hopewell to meet up with Nest.  Findo Gast also travels to Hopewell hoping to find Ross and the Morph.  What follows is the best of the Word/Void novels.  Terry Brooks does a fantastic job in creating tension in this story.  We just know something big has to happen here and that Findo Gast is a very real threat (a threat I did knot feel as strongly in AKotW).  This is the most interesting of the Word/Void novels and is the most powerful in its ending and execution.  Everything feels dangerous.  Around any corner could be a nasty surprise and Brooks does not go easy on his characters here. 
In the pantheon of fantasy authors Terry Brooks is a name that carries some weight in helping fantasy become as popular as it is.  The Sword of Shannara was one of the first best selling fantasy novels that gained a widespread readership.  But as the years went by and he kept selling some readers viewed him as a lesser fantasy author in terms of quality.  His work is highly readable, but it doesn't have the depth that we later find in a George Martin or Steven Erikson.  That's just fine.  Brooks writes quality entertaining books that might not find the top tier of critical acclaim, but the bottom line is that his books are typically a good, entertaining read.  Angel Fire East is one of the best of Terry Brooks.  Superior to most of his Shannara work and easily better than his Landover novels, Angel Fire East stands up as a darn good story told by a competent storyteller. 

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