Select one of the keywords
Tanequil: High Druid of Shannara    by Terry Brooks order for
by Terry Brooks
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

In Tanequil, Terry Brooks gives us a second in his High Druid of Shannara trilogy, following Jarka Ruus. The addition of a city of demons lends a contrast of dark and light, as do a variety of good and evil extras. Banished by the acting High Druid (the evil Shadea a'Ru), Grianne Ohmsford (a.k.a. the 'Ilse Witch', and the rightful High Druid of Paranor) is kept in a part of the Shannara universe known as the 'Forbidding', a netherworld and a city of demons. Even in captivity, Grianne at times is forced to revert to witch magic to survive. Grianne's entrapment allows a demon to pass through the wall into the Four Lands, destroying the barrier that prevents the dark influences of the Forbidding from entering the other world.

Penderrin Ohmsford is sent to rescue his imprisoned aunt Grianne. Accompanying Pen are Rock Troll brothers Kermadec and Atalan, troll Kermadec, elf Khyber (keeper of the Elfstones), dwarf Tagwen, and blind though differently-sighted Cinnaminson. Pen searches for the ancient 'tanequil', a mystical tree from which a 'darkwand' must be formed to aid Pen's rescue of aunt Grianne. The limb from the tanequil comes at a high-price to Pen's well being, and the closer his band gets to the ruins of the city of Inkrim and the tanequil, the more dangerous the path becomes. There is danger lurking at every corner, and, unknown to Pen, his parents Ben and Rue are held captive by Shadea.

In Southland, the Prime Minister of the Federation, Sen Dunsidan, has formed an uneasy alliance with Shadea a'Ru. Sen has armed his greatest airship with a formidable new weapon innovated by engineer Etan Orek. The corrupt pair, Sen and Shadea, plot to destroy the elf and dwarf populations to expand their sovereignty. Their goal is to combine the Federation and Druids, and gain control over the destiny and fate of all the 'Races'. However, as with most evil alliances, each leader has plans to become the final ruler.

Another key character, Elven sorceress Iridia, changes alliance to become personal adviser to Prime Minister Sen, but there is something different about her. After suggesting the genocide of her own people, Iridia declares, 'I am not an Elf! I am a Druid! Just as you are a Prime Minister and not a Southlander. It is the power we wield that commands our loyalty, Sen Dunsidan, not some accident of birth.' The Free-born and Federation war continues in the Four Lands, where life is perilous for the Ohmsford family. All hope of rescue and recovery is centered around young Penderrin.

Readers new to Brooks' thirteen Shannara books might be wise to start back at the very beginning with The Sword of Shannara, or at least with the first in this trilogy. However, I have not yet read Jarka Ruus, and had no difficulty with the second installment. Brooks has a penchant for descriptions of characters and settings as in scenes of the tanequil island of Inkrim, 'It is not an island of the sort you might imagine. It is surrounded not by water, but by a deep ravine choked with vines and trees. A single bridge spans its width, an ancient stone arch thousands of years old.' As Pen and Cinnaminson cross the bridge, 'beyond the wall, all evidence of time's passing vanished. Spread out before them were gardens of such incredible beauty that it seemed as if they belong to another place entirely.'

Terry Brooks is a world builder, an eloquent fantasist whose writing stakes a claim in the reader's mind and heart. The story is full of action with a cliff-hanger ending, promising more excitement in the last book of the trilogy, Straken, to be released in September 2005. In the Tanequil dedication, Brooks states, 'a good book is the best entertainment of all.' I agree.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Fantasy books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews