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Armageddon's Children    by Terry Brooks order for
Armageddon's Children
by Terry Brooks
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I've always preferred Terry Brooks' Knight of the Word books to his hugely popular Shannara series. The setting of the former was a modern day world of seeming normalcy. A very small number of Knights fought a desperate - and losing - war against the encroaching evil of the Void, led by all-powerful demons. Armageddon's Children opens a Pre-Shannara Trilogy in a post-apocalyptic future, in which all those early Knights' worst nightmares have come to fruition, and most of them are dead. Armies of once-men, led by demons - in particular the Old Man who, in all but his soulless eyes, resembles Gandalf - are systematically exterminating all remaining enclaves of humanity.

We follow four different sets of characters. Logan Tom and Angel Perez are both orphaned and scarred Knights of the Word, the last of their kind. Logan is guided by the Lady, and receives more specific direction from Two Bears, a powerful shaman who once helped Nest Freemark (readers of the earlier episodes will remember both of them). Before she died, Nest gave birth to 'a creature of a very powerful, wild magic', a gypsy morph, who now exists as a human boy who 'is going to save humankind' - at least a small remnant of it. Logan is tasked with finding that boy, before the demons do, and before they finish the world's destruction.

Tying in to the later Shannara epic - the Elven nation live hidden deep in forests, and a few Chosen - including Krisin and his cousin Erisha, the daughter of the Elven king - tend the Ellcrys, the magical tree that maintains the Forbidding. After the Ellcrys speaks in Krisin's mind, he discovers that she had already communicated with Erisha, and that the King knows of her request but keeps that knowledge from his subjects. The magical tree tells of coming destruction and the need for the Elves to travel to a new land, and to take her with them. This requires a Loden Elfstone, which Krisin must find or the Ellcrys and the Elves will perish - but how is Krisin to find a long lost Elfstone?

After leading an exodus of children from the ruins of a Los Angeles overrun by demons, and herself barely surviving an attack by female demon Delloreen, Angel is given new orders by the Lady via a Faerie tatterdemalion. Angel must find a lost talisman. She sets out on her quest, Delloreen close behind her. And in Seattle, a young street gang named the Ghosts is led by a young man with a vision, who calls himself Hawk, and is guarded by a loyal dog he named Cheney. One of the children he protects, Candle, has visions of danger they have learned to trust. She sees something very bad coming and warns Hawk that they must leave the city. But Hawk loves Tessa, who lives in a compound and will not leave her parents.

Terry Brooks masterfully weaves together all these plot skeins into a gripping yarn, ending this first in his new apocalyptic series with cliffhangers on several fronts. Though darker than anything he's written before - and this author is never afraid to doom his characters - he always leaves room for hope. If you enjoy fantasy, Armageddon's Children is a must read.

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