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Angel Fire East    by Terry Brooks order for
Angel Fire East
by Terry Brooks
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2000 (1999)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the third in Brooks' Knight of the Word trilogy. In his world, people live normal, everyday lives. Alongside them, a very small number of Knights and other magically talented people fight a desperate battle against the encroaching evil of the Void and its servants, the most powerful being demons. Brooks' dark trilogy follows, in turns, two such characters, the weary and ageing Knight of the Word, John Ross, and the much younger Nest Freemark, heir to a magical heritage passed through generations of women in her family.

Ross, a descendant of an early Welsh Knight, was given his onerous role by the stern and beautiful Lady in the Fairy Glen. He has sacrificed any possibility of a personal life to serve her and the Word for 25 long years, plagued by nightmares of the cost of failure - a doomed Earth overrun by demons. But this time the Lady offers Ross his freedom after one last service - to catch a marvelous magical entity, the gypsy morph. He is to protect it from the Void and discover its secret.

Nest has grown up through the trilogy (we met her at age 14), lost her beloved grandparents and discovered that her father was a demon. On the maternal side, she has inherited small magics and a responsibility for the park adjoining her home. She shares this with a crotchety sylvan named Pick, a delightful character. Her paternal inheritance is a powerful but frightening protector called Wraith. Though Nest has only encountered John a few times in the 15 year span of the trilogy, she perceives him as a father figure and a friend.

Forces of the Void, in Brooks' world, are responsible for all the incomprehensible evil that shocks and horrifies us when we see it on the news. People are manipulated and influenced by the Void's creatures, who arouse them to acts of hatred and violence. It's an appealing notion, to explain the inexplicable, though the author's view of the state of the world is also quite depressing in that the Void seems all powerful and the Word weak in comparison, and losing steadily.

Angel Fire East unfolds with not one but 4 powerful demons arrayed against John and Nest (the strongest is called Findo Gask). They subvert a human accomplice who gives them inadvertent aid. John locates and catches the gypsy moth, and it throws in a few surprises of its own. And Nest has visitors from the past - not only John Ross, but also an abused child Bennett now grown up, fighting a drug addiction, and with a small daughter of her own. Of course, Bennett brings with her as baggage her own vulnerability to the Void.

The story's title comes from Bennett's description of sunrise to her little daughter Harper, and, like the sunrise, this final episode does inject some hope into Brooks' dark trilogy and brings it to a satisfying conclusion. Angel Fire East is an exciting and absorbing read, if you like your fantasy on the dark side.

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