cover image The Darkling Child

The Darkling Child

Terry Brooks. Del Rey, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-345-54079-9

The second book in the Defenders of Shannara segment of Brooks’s legendary Shannara series (following The High Druid’s Blade) continues telling a story in which failure could cascade into catastrophe, though the main arc is far less grandiose than Brooks’s previous works. For five years, Paxon Leah has wielded his legendary ancestral blade, the Sword of Leah, as the defender of the Druids of Paranor—defending their leader, Aphenglow Elessedil, in particular. But now Aphenglow is dying. The sorcerer Arcannen Rai, who once kidnapped and traumatized Paxon’s sister to exploit her Wishsong magic, has survived an atrocity and vowed to take revenge by using the young singer Reyn Frosch’s Wishsong. Paxon and a Druid, Avelene, investigate Reyn and confront Arcannen, knowing that the two together would be all but unstoppable. Brooks’s fans and those who prefer their fantasy on a smaller scale will appreciate the more personal but still high-stakes turn in this famous world. Agent: Anne Sibald, Janklow & Nesbit. (July)