cover image The High Druid’s Blade: The Defenders of Shannara, Book 1

The High Druid’s Blade: The Defenders of Shannara, Book 1

Terry Brooks. Del Rey, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-345-54070-6

Hundreds of years after the war against demonkind in the Dark Legacy of Shannara series, Paxon Leah and his sister, Chrysallin, are the last living descendants of the magical Ohmsford family, and they apparently possess no magic themselves. This lack doesn’t stop the sorcerer Arcannen from kidnapping Chrys. When Paxon, wielding the ancient Sword of Leah, accidentally manifests powerful magic while rescuing her, he attracts the attention of the High Druid, the aged Aphenglow Elessedil, who offers him a place as a knight-errant serving the Druids. After vast world-spanning epics filled with quests and armies, Brooks tries his hand at a more personal story, first with Paxon’s training and then his rushing off when the ambitious Arcannen takes Chrys a second time. The intriguing premise veers into old and familiar patterns, though, such as Arcannen’s desire to conquer or destroy the Druid order, and includes a thin mystery about the disappearance of Druid artifacts. Brooks fans will find this an especially diluted series opener after the powerful Dark Legacy trilogy. (Mar.)