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Witch Wraith: The Dark Legacy of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Cover Artist: Steven Youll
Review by Drew Bittner
Del Rey Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345523532
Date: 16 July 2013 List Price $28.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

The Four Lands are under a confluence of dangers unlike anything they have faced before--and their only champions are scattered, some of them trapped among demons and others on an expedition sure to end in disaster.

If it is always darkest before the dawn, well, this is about as dark as it gets.

In Witch Wraith, the third and final part of the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy, Terry Brooks has delivered what could easily be the capstone of this monumental saga.

Three major plotlines have converged, resulting in a perfect storm of calamity for the Four Lands and its people: the Ellcrys has failed and the Forbidding, which traps demons and other monsters in a distorted mirror-world, is on the verge of falling; a quest to retrieve long-lost Elfstones has led to deaths and capture at the hands of the terrible Straken Lord (who has but one ransom demand); and the human-led Federation has destroyed the Druid Order and ransacked Paranor. Even worse, they are holding Arling Elessedil, who is meant for a great destiny--if she isn't killed first.

Aboard the airship Quickening, Railing Ohmsford leads an expedition in hopes of finding his ancestor Grianne, also known as the Ilse Witch. The Straken Lord wants her as his price to let the others go free...but even if she is still alive, a century later, could she be persuaded to return with Railing? And even then, Railing harbors secrets of his own that would destroy the trust of his comrades, especially the girl Mirai whom he and his twin Redden love.

Elsewhere, a handful of escapees from behind the Forbidding struggle to help recover the Elfstones, so that their power might be used to stop the demon army from invading. Confounded by treachery and overwhelming numbers of enemies, they find what they are looking for--but must then master magic that hasn't been seen in millennia.

As the demons break free and all appears lost, it will fall to heroes such as Aphen Elessedil, Railing Ohmsford and others to rally and overcome the greatest challenge in generations. Bravery, honesty and love are put to their ultimate test.

This novel might easily be the crowning achievement and culmination of the entire Shannara epic. Told in a series of trilogies, duologies and the occasional short story, Terry Brooks has produced what might be the largest high fantasy series ever created, with too many characters to list, too many heroic exploits to contemplate and too many fantastic villains to... well, to keep from one's nightmares. He has achieved rare greatness among authors, steering a single multi-generation tale to generations of readers. It is not only a feat worthy of many awards and honors, it is an accomplishment deserving of applause from his millions of fans worldwide.

It would be a disservice to untangle and explicate the plot, save to note that it calls back to nearly every previous story arc in the series. The Elfstones that were lost dates back to the first novel, wherein Allanon notes that the blue Elfstones are the last ones--that others did exist but were lost. The Ilse Witch is, of course, both villain and hero of her own story, and the Ellcrys was the focal point of the second novel Elfstones of Shannara. And it is also full of love, brothers depending on brothers, heroism and defeating those who use treachery, deception and vast numbers of monsters to do their evil work.

Lastly, it is a love letter to Brooks's many, many fans. Full of all that his readers have come to expect, it never disappoints, never flags, never lets up. This may well be one of Terry Brooks's finest works, and if he chooses, it would be a fitting climax to his amazing achievement.

Highly recommended.

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