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Jarka Ruus by Terry Brooks
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I’ve been wanting to get back to the Shannara world after completing The Voyage of Jerle Shannara series a few years ago, but to be honest, I was disappointed in that trilogy and always found an excuse not to start Jarka Ruus. Which, as it turns out, was a huge mistake.

Brooks hasn’t given his Druids a large voice before – preferring to keep their thoughts and motives a secret. In previous books saw more of Walker than Alannon, who Brooks kept aloof from the reader. We peeked into Walker’s life – how he worked, his responsibilities as a Druid, and how his magic worked – but never enough, because the stories have always been about the Ohmsfords and Elessdils, with some guidance from the Druids. In Jarka Ruus we finally see the Four Kingdoms from a Druid’s perspective, and we get a glimpse into the ancient and mysterious order. We see the politics that rule them, the pressure that Grianne, as their leader, endures, and emerge better equipped to understand her predecessors. The difference in Grianne is marked – no longer the dreaded Ilse Witch, she has become more thoughtful, pragmatic, and selfless.

Another refreshing change is that while Pen Ohmsford conforms to the role of reluctant hero, he isn’t like his father Bek, or even Shea, the original Ohmsford hero. Pen never loses sight of his goal to rescue his aunt. He isn’t as incredulous or unbelieving as his ancestors were. I found his daring admirable and his romantic exploits cute. Another awesome addition to the cast is Arhen Elessdil, who was one of my favourite characters in The Voyage of Jerle Shannara series. His niece Khyber is also great – a brave, headstrong girl who quickly learns that there are many types of courage and actions mean much more than words. On the other hand, the fourth member of the team – Tagwen – is like none of the Dawrvish characters before him: although he is trustworthy and kindly, he lacks courage and foresight and his constant second-guessing set my teeth on edge.

All the familiar aspects of Terry Brook’s writing make an appearance – amazing world building, the presence of the Elf-stones, a chase half way across the world with shadowy figures at the party’s heels, and a force of darkness manipulating events to suit itself. It’s easy to see why Brook’s is considered a master of Fantasy writing, and I was glad to have enjoyed Jarka Ruus so much after being disappointed in the preceding trilogy.

Fans of the Shannara series shouldn’t miss this book, which kicks off an amazing new series by taking the story into uncharted territory. As Brooks pushes the magical, geographical and historical boundaries of the world he created so long ago, he displays a maturing of writing style and character arc development which is wonderful to see. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy soon!

You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic. ( )
  alcarinqa | Jan 30, 2013 |
This book features the return of a recurring character, the former opponent of the Druids and Ohmsfords, the Ilse Witch. Without giving too much away (spoiler warning for those who haven't read the previous series) she has reformed and rejoined her family and is now working for good, not evil.
This book also features the return of the creatures beyond the Forbidding, the demons who were pushed back there in Elfstones of Shannara. The combination of the Ilse Witch and the demons gives this a bit of a different twist, and makes it an excellent book for Shannara fans. ( )
  Karlstar | May 16, 2009 |
This is the first book in the new High Druid of Shannara trilogy that's set within Terry Brooks' ongoing fantasy Shannara series.

I read the first in the series when it came. Surely that can’t be 30 years ago - where has my life gone? And I’ve read every one since.

The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy was the last series, and I really didn’t care for it that much. There was nothing wrong with it – I guess I just expected more. Whether that is a reflection of Brooks’ work, or of my increasing grumpiness, I’m not sure.

After that, I picked up this book with some trepidation – but I ended up enjoying it a lot. It is set twenty years after the events that occurred in the previous Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy. Grianne Ohmsford, the former Isle Witch, is now "Ard Rhys" or High Druid of a restored Paranor and Third Druid Council. But personal, political, and magical enemies team up to trap her in the ultimate prison of all and it's up to another Ohmsford lad and his friends to go on a quest to save her.

Basically, Terry Brooks returns to his roots. While the book is nothing original – the usual clutch of druids, Ohmsfords, and a daring journey - it is a great read. Shannara fans will like the fact that we get more background on the new Paranor and on the Northland. We're also introduced to a whole new magical world beyond Shannara that's populated by lots of interesting creatures and characters.

Jarka Ruus is a very promising first entry in the High Druid of Shannara series. I’ll be queueing up for the next one. ( )
  Jawin | Apr 18, 2009 |
This is the first book in the new High Druid of Shannara trilogy that is set within Terry Brooks' ongoing fantasy Shannara world.

I read the first in the series when it came. Surely that can’t be 30 years ago - where has my life gone? And I’ve read every one since.

The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy was the last series, and I really didn’t care for it that much. There was nothing wrong with it – I guess I just expected more. Whether that is a reflection of Brooks’ work, or of my increasing grumpiness, I’m not sure.

After that, I picked up this book with some trepidation – but I ended up enjoying it a lot. It is set twenty years after the events that occurred in the previous Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy. Grianne Ohmsford, the former Isle Witch, is now "Ard Rhys" or High Druid of a restored Paranor and Third Druid Council. But personal, political, and magical enemies team up to trap her in the ultimate prison of all and it's up to another Ohmsford lad and his friends to go on a quest to save her.

Basically, Terry Brooks returns to his roots. While the book is nothing original – the usual clutch of druids, Ohmsfords, and a daring journey - it is a great read. Shannara fans will like the fact that we get more background on the new Paranor and on the Northland. We're also introduced to a whole new magical world beyond Shannara that's populated by lots of interesting creatures and characters.

Jarka Ruus is a very promising first entry in the High Druid of Shannara series. I’ll be queueing up for the next one. ( )
  Jawin | Apr 18, 2009 |
This is the 12th Shannara book, and the first in the High Druid of Shannara trilogy. I've been reading them since The Sword of Shannara came out in paperback, so about 30 years. Unbelievable.

It starts 20 years after the end of the last trilogy--the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara. Grianne Ohmsford is now the Ard Rhys (head druid) of the newly restored Druid Council, but she's encountering resistance, as there are those who don't trust her based on her history as the Ilse Witch, and those who want power for themselves. And there are those who would use that dissatisfaction for their own ends.

When Grianne Ohmsford is abducted, it falls to her young kinsman, Penderrin, whose only magic is the ability to communicate with animals, and Khyber, the niece of the Elven Prince, to rescue her.

There's the mystery of who abducted her and who's behind it, and the coming-of-age adventure of the two young heroes, complete with magic, spirits, creatures, and treachery. And the flying ships, which my 12-year-old is quite excited about.

Jarka Ruus is pretty much standard fantasy--or maybe it just seems that way, because this world has been part of my fantasy reading for so long. It was a fun, interesting story, with likeable characters, and if it didn't have anything I didn't expect, it also didn't lack anything I did expect. ( )
  Darla | Nov 21, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345483898, Paperback)

With Jarka Ruus Terry Brooks embarks on yet another journey with the legendary Ohmsford family. Beginning 20 years after the conclusion of the The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, the High Druid of Paranor Grianne Ohmsford finds herself struggling to unite the druids amid political morass risen from her prior history as the dreaded Ilse Witch. Her enemies' schemes come to fruition quickly and she is banished behind the wall of the Forbidding, the anti-demon security feature that collapsed so spectacularly in the magnificent Elfstones of Shannara. Her fate falls in the lap of the youngest Ohmsford, Penderrin, who unlike his Aunt Grianne and his parents is without the gift of magic. Pen along with Khyber and her uncle, the Elven Prince Ahren Elessedil, learn they must jump through the usual Brooks' hoops to unlock the door of the Forbidding and free Grianne.

Brooks is right at home in this formulaic addition to the Shannara franchise. All the furniture is here: the Druid Keep of Paranor, dark creatures in pursuit of reluctant young heroes and, of course, the Elfstones. The good news is that Brooks remains a master of description and the book hums along with comfortable ease. Devout Shannara fans will find their favorite magical realm exactly as they left it and no doubt anticipate this cliffhanger's sequel. --Jeremy Pugh

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:25 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Twenty years after Grianne Ohmsford abandoned her life as the evil Ilse Witch to lead the Druid Council protecting the Four Lands, she disappears, and it is up to her nephew Pen and his comrades to go to her rescue.

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