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Dark Wraith of Shannara    by Terry Brooks, Edwin David & Robert Place Napton order for
Dark Wraith of Shannara
by Terry Brooks
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's a treat for fantasy fans - the first ever Shannara story in graphic novel format, adapted from Terry Brooks' tale by Robert Place Napton and illustrated in black and white by Edwin David. Though knowledge of the previous Shannara fantasies will help readers understand references, this action-packed story can still be enjoyed on its own. David's graphics do an excellent job of conveying fight scenes, invocation of magic, and characters' emotions. At the back of the graphic novel is an interesting discussion of The Making of The Dark Wraith of Shannara, an Artist's Sketchbook, and an excerpt from The Wishsong of Shannara.

A textual Prologue sets the scene of a post-apocalyptic world in which magic reigns instead of science and technology, a world of heroes and legends where 'new races of Druids, Men, Dwarfs, Trolls, Gnomes, and Elves have struggled to bring a lasting order'. We're told of the Ildatch, a dread tome that turned a wise druid to the dark side, of the Ohmsfords' role in defeating him, and of Ohmsford descendants Jair and his sister Brin, 'born with the power of the wishsong.' Jair's skilled Weapons Master Garet Jax was killed during their quest in The Wishsong of Shannara, when the Ildatch was destroyed.

As Dark Wraith of Shannara opens, Jair Ohmsford dreams repeatedly of the time he used the wishsong to transform himself into Garet Jax and fight off the Mwellrets, acolytes of the last Ildatch fragment. Brin counsels him on the dangers of the wishsong, making him promise not to use it. Later, the shade of Allanon tells Jair that the Mwellrets plot anew with the Croton witch against his friends, druid Cogline and his brave and lovely granddaughter Kimber. They seek dangerous knowledge from Cogline, and Jair must rescue him - 'The fate of the four lands depends upon it.'

Aided by his Gnome friend Slanter and Kimber's moor cat Whisper, Jair fights off Spider Gnomes, and rescues Kimber. Then he and Slanter ride to the Wolfsktaag Mountains. Despite Brin's sage warning, Jair feels he has no choice but to invoke the wishsong again and again - to face a fearsome monster, and in his attempt to save Cogline and foil the witch's evil plan. He saves his friends and himself ... this time. Fans will be happy to discover that the ending leaves plenty of room for a sequel, that will no doubt focus more on the developing relationship between Jair and Kimber - and on the risk he incurs in using the wishsong.

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