It will be dark in another hour. After that, we won’t be so easy to track, especially once we get out over the water.
Maybe. Maybe not. The only time they had any real trouble was after you crashed. That doesn’t sound like an evasion tactic you want to employ regularly.
-Redden Alt Mer, captain of the Jerle Shannara, and Hunter Predd, Wing Rider
Well, it sure looked as if the voyage was over. On the one hand, Antrax was finished; the Elfstones recovered. On the other hand, Walker’s mission-and perhaps his life-has ended in failure. And just to add insult to injury, there’s a whole lot of airships making an appearance….
Morgawr brings the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara to a close, and does so in fine style. The cast of characters are still somewhat scattered, but each has managed to achieve something meaningful. Rue Meridian managed to capture the Ilse Witch’s airship, Black Moclips. Quentin Leah managed to survive the Wronk sent to capture his sword (and possibly the arm attached to it). The Jerle Shannara is once again in the Captain’s hands. Ahren and Ryer recovered the Elfstones, and rescued Walker, although that victory had a terrible price. Bek and Truls Rohk are trying to find the Witch, who has confronted Walker; and she has chosen to use the Sword of Shannara to discover the truth about Walker, the Morgawr…and herself. That move, however, has rather potentially disastrous results; the Sword isn’t known for pulling punches when revealing truth.
The book doesn’t actually start there; it actually begins some months ago, just after the Ilse Witch began her pursuit of the Druid. The Morgawr isn’t stupid; he knows that she’s planning to betray him, so he’s out to recruit a bit of insurance…and to make sure that all goes well, he plans to attend personally. The Morgawr demonstrates why he should be feared early on, when he recruits the crew of those airships…and it isn’t a pretty picture. In a way, I’m very glad that the Morgawr has Grianne figured out; you can’t have a major villain turn out to be as dumb as a turnip, after all.
Morgawr had to accomplish quite a few things to bring the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion: it had to resolve the conflict between Bek and Grianne. It had to deal with the conflict between Grianne and the Morgawr. It had to bring together the crew in a manner that could be considered realistic. And most important, it had to get the crew (or at least survivors) back to the Four Lands. In my view, it did the job; the most difficult aspect was to get the crew together, but life is a lot easier when you have Wing Riders on your side.
Still, just because those things had to be accomplished doesn’t mean that was all there was to the book. There’s the obligatory chase scene with Black Moclips, Jerle Shannara, and the Morgawr’s fleet; that in turn leads to a rather interesting evasion tactic which gets the crew into more trouble than it was worth. Redden Alt Mer gets a fair amount of pages this time around, as he begins to wonder if his famous luck has finally run out on this trip. On the other hand, he proves that he’s still got something going his way; that’s late enough in the book that I really can’t get into that for now.
There is a resolution to the story behind Truls Rohk as well, as Bek makes a decision that will change him for the rest of his life. And the getaway isn’t destined to be quick and easy, as Ryer Ord Star and Ahren Elessedil get nabbed early. I found myself feeling sorry for Ahren; he certainly got more than he bargained for on this voyage, and after being shot at by Castledown and hunted down to be used as a tool for Antrax, you’d think the guy would get a break….
Walker’s presence also makes itself known throughout the book, although readers of Antrax will understand that he’s not going to be a physical presence for long. Walker does manage, though, to reveal that there is one goal that must be achieved, and it isn’t the books of magic that he sought (clever readers of Antrax, again, will recognize a parallel right out of the book Wishsong of Shannara; it had been a red flag for me when I’d finished that book). I did regret, though, that the Druid had left much undone.
The final confrontation between the Morgawr and the crew of the Jerle Shannara is everything I could have hoped for; I especially enjoyed the use of knowledge gained in the previous books to set it up and bring it to conclusion. Ordinarily, I would have been annoyed at the way the book ends (I’ll spare you details); however, I’ve got in on good authority that a follow-up series by Brooks in in the works, and will probably take care of some of those annoying loose ends. Once again, I’m looking forward to it. Until then, though, I’d say that Morgawr delivers on the promise of the first book, and wraps up the story arc in a satisfying manner.