Antrax, by Terry Brooks


I wouldn’t put finished to the Druid if I saw him dropped six feet underground; he has more lives than a cat.
-Truls Rohk

We left the crew of the Jerle Shannara in a really bad spot.  The crew is scattered, having been sliced to pieces by the defenses of Castledown, and the Ilse Witch has captured the Jerle Shannara itself.  And that is where the story of Antrax begins (not to be confused with another word that’s been in the news lately).

Heh.  As I look at my last review, I am forced to take back my assertion that the story didn’t have much more room to go.  Trust Terry Brooks to make me eat my words.  It also seems that his time in writing the Knight of the Word books seems to have given him a decidedly more horrific bent, as this books certainly steps into darker territory than has previously been explored in any of the Shannara books.

Bek Rowe confronts the Ilse Witch, revealed to have been his sister.  While he tries desperately to convince her of the truth of their heritage, she seems quite bent on believing that this is a trick by the Druid, Walker.  However, he is quickly removed from her path by the mysterious shapeshifter, Truls Rohk.  Taking with him one of the major talismans of the Four Lands, the two attempt to elude the Witch, who abandons her hunt for Walker and the secrets of the magic at Castledown to solve this mystery.

In the meantime, Quentin Leah and a group of survivors from their airship, as they attempt to locate the missing members of the ground expedition come into contact with natives of this land, who speak of a terrible evil that takes parts of the dead and incorporates them into things called Wronks…an evil called Antrax, a thing of the Old World.  Worse yet, it is looking for Quentin and his group.

In Castledown, Ahren Elessedil is dealing with almost paralyzing fear after the slaughter there, and is joined by the seer Ryer Ord Star; the two aid each other in an attempt to locate Walker, not realizing that each step leads to the truth behind Antrax.  And on the Jerle Shannara itself, the imprisoned Rover crew decide not to stay prisoners….

There’s a lot of things happening on a lot of different fronts, and each of them seem to have a theme going through them.  Ahren and Ryer’s, for example, tend to hit a slightly horrific bent, as they are the ones who get to deal with Castledown’s secrets.  On the other hand, Quentin Leah’s has a feeling similar to that of the Terminator movies (which will be apparent as the book continues).  While Ilse Witch focused heavily on the beginnings of the journey and the journey itself, Antrax is all about the truth behind Castledown and the magic that both Walker and the Ilse Witch covet.

A strong portion of the story also is around Bek Rowe and his attempts to convince the Ilse Witch that she has been long misled by the Morgawr.  Bek still seems to be a bit of an innocent in this, as only a fruitcake would think that a simple conversation would convince the Ilse Witch of his sincerity.  Yet I was satisfied that she was affected enough to start questioning herself; not enough to believe that she is wrong, but enough to make her want to learn the truth of Bek, and by extension, Walker and the Morgawr.

It also became apparent as I hit the midpoint of the book that my early supposition that the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara would be two books was also wrong.  By the end, I hated the fact that I’ll have to wait another year for what I presume will be the finale of this series.  Certainly, the events that occur at the end will certainly surprise some readers, although I strongly expect that not all is as it seems; one major event certainly seems to echo a scene way back in Wishsong of Shannara.

Antrax continues the Voyage in style, and I was not disappointed.  Can’t wait for book three; the last two pages of this book have certainly gotten me curious as to what happens next.  Heck, the entire last chapter is full of moments of truth, and I’m eager to see the resolution.

Categories: The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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