The Elves of Cintra (The Genesis of Shannara, Book 2)
by Terry Brooks
Review by Drew Bittner
Del Rey Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345484116
Date: 28 August 2007 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The end is nigh.
Humanity's hour is nearing its end, as demons and "once-men" overrun the last few enclaves and the remaining Knights of the Word try to save whoever they can. In Armageddon's Children, Terry Brooks opened the door to this era between two series: The Word and The Void and Shannara.
Now, the dark ages deepen in The Elves of Cintra. Logan Tom and the Ghosts scramble through the ruins of Seattle, hunting down the missing Hawk (who vanished in a flash of magic after being flung off a high wall). A horde of monsters have invaded and they must survive the assault before they can search for their friend. Tragically, not all of them will make it.
Tom realizes that he must seek out Hawk, as the boy is most likely the gypsy morph given life and form by Nest Freemark decades ago. Hawk has the power to save a remnant of humanity but must be protected until he can call upon his own magic. Tom's search leads him into great danger, however, as he encounters a terrifying new enemy with powers even stronger than his own.
Elsewhere, warned of imminent doom by the magical Ellcrys tree, young Kirisin must persuade his people--the hidden Elves of Cintra--that they must find the long-lost blue Elfstones (familiar to readers of the Shannara books). If they succeed, they must then find the Elfstone known as the Loden; failure means the doom of the Elves.
His plea is both helped and hindered by the arrival of Angel Perez, Knight of the Word from Los Angeles, and the faerie tatterdemalion Ailie. Despite being a human intruder into Elven lands, Angel urges them to listen to Kirisin. Her plea is backed by Culph, the Elven scholar who helps Kirisin and Erisha, the King's daughter, on their search for the blue Elfstones.
Although Kirisin manages to retrieve the Elfstones from their frightening hiding-place, a tragedy sends Kirisin, his sister Simralin and Angel fleeing into the wilderness. They have only vague rumors regarding a possible haven for the Elves that was rejected long ago... as well as the realization that a demon has infiltrated the Elves and now pursues them. Equipped with the power of the seeking Stones, they begin the more important search, but realize that every use of the Stones' magic gives them away to the demon.
Angel is being pursued by another as well. Delloreen, once a female acolyte of the demons, has now mutated into a catlike monstrosity whose dwindling intellect is set solely on finding and killing Angel. Working with a mysterious other, she closes on her goal steadily as the three heroes approach their destination: the hiding place of the Loden. But before they can reach it, there must be a reckoning with the traitor demon and the revelation of its sinister plan for the Loden and the Elves of Cintra.
Brooks continues to break new ground as he bridges his best-known series with his modern heroic-fantasy trilogy. Writing post-apocalyptic fiction cannot be easy; the urge to escalate the danger, particularly in the middle of a trilogy, is overwhelming, leaving readers breathless if the characters are left in a cliffhanger. Here, more than one character is left in mortal peril by the end, though there is a light at the end of this tunnel.
Always a supporting player in the Shannara novels from early on, the King of the Silver River makes an appearance in this series to help Hawk realize his nature and his potential. His appearance, though brief, is pivotal and well placed.
Hawk continues to grow as a character, achieving a place where he can become more than the leader of the Ghosts. He finally realizes that he must lead perhaps thousands or tens of thousands to sanctuary, like a latter-day Moses, and the start of this children's crusade really shows here. What might have seemed like a throwaway element from Armageddon's Children pays off here in an unexpected but terrific way, as Hawk finds the kernel of his following at last.
Likewise, there is tragedy and suffering along the way. Friends are lost and enemies gather. If a hero is measured by the power of the villain, then the handful here--Logan Tom, Hawk, Angel, Kirisin and the Ghosts--are surely true heroes.
This is epic fantasy set in a dying world, a masterful blend of genres with feats of tremendous heroism, despicable villainy and friendship tested to its limits by adversity. Terry Brooks is one of the few who can make this kind of writing seem both effortless and unmatchable. It is always a pleasure to read his work; it is doubly so to see him reaching new levels in his craft by going to new places in his writing.
Fans of epic fantasy will enjoy The Elves of Cintra. For anyone who's a fan of Terry Brooks, this is a must-read.