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The Elves of Cintra: Genesis of Shannara    by Terry Brooks order for
Elves of Cintra
by Terry Brooks
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Elves of Cintra is the second - following Armageddon's Children - in an outstanding new sequence from Terry Brooks that ties together his Shannara books with his Word versus Void trio. Armageddon's Children, the first in the pre-Shannara trilogy showed a world in which the Knights of the Word have almost lost their doomed battle against overpowering forces of evil led by powerful demons. In fact, only two Knights remain - Logan Tom and Angel Perez - while the last enclaves of humanity are being systematically exterminated.

In the first book, Logan Tom was tasked with finding a gypsy morph, who's been born into the form of a human boy and is apparently mankind's 'last, best hope.' The Knight tracked him down, but lost Hawk (along with Tessa whom Hawk loves) to a powerful magic, in a cliffhanger ending. As The Elves of Cintra opens, Logan Tom helps Hawk's band of street children, the Ghosts, to leave Seattle, as the city is engulfed by an army of monsters. These tough and engaging survivors squabble but always have each other's backs and it's fascinating to find out the backstories of kids like Fixit and the new member, Cat. Logan Tom is leading them to 'the banks of the Columbia', where he hopes to reunite with Hawk. But they must survive dire perils en route. While his friends embark on their journey, Hawk meets the King of the Silver River, who tells him a little of his origins and destiny.

We last saw Angel leaving Los Angeles, after tasking Helen Rice to take children she had rescued north to Columbia. Now Ailie, a Faerie tatterdemalion, guides Angel to the Cintra Elves' refuge. The duo are closely followed by a powerful demon, Delloreen, whom Angel has already fought - she despairs of surviving a second encounter. Krisin, nephew of the Elven king, has been told by a sacred, magical tree, the Ellcrys, of coming devastation. He was warned that the Elves must travel to a new land, but that first he must find the Loden Elfstone. A vicious murder sends Krisin, his Tracker sister Simralin, and Angel on an exciting and perilous quest to Paradise, trailed closely by Angel's monster and another demon shapechanger, who's been living amongst the Elves for a long time, in the shape of someone Krisin knows well.

There's non-stop action in this tough series set in a heartrendingly desperate world, where characters whom we grow to like die - 'Death ... claimed those around you like a wind gathering fallen leaves'. For Terry Brooks fans, there's the bonus of recognizing echoes of his other series - from a balloon trip to an attack by self-perpetuating robots - in this connected one. Genesis of Shannara is great reading for those who enjoy hard-hitting fantasy adventure. As the second episode ends, something dormant awakens in Hawk, and Krisin finds what he seeks, but their enemies also gather their forces. Sadly, we must wait a while to find out what happens next.

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