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Bearers Of The Black Staff: Legends Of Shannara (edition 2011)

by Terry Brooks

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4751021,755 (3.81)3
Member:leviathanx
Title:Bearers Of The Black Staff: Legends Of Shannara
Authors:Terry Brooks
Info:Del Rey (2011), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Bearers of the Black Staff by Terry Brooks

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This is part of a 2 book 'bridge' series, meant to continue the story that started with the Genesis of Shannara series, and lead up to the history of the Four Lands in the original Shannara series. It picks up 500 years after the previous books, as the survivors realize that they have to re-enter the wider world.
For me, this book did not fulfill its premise. This book fits very well into the world created by the Genesis of Shannara trilogy, but has nothing to do with the later Four Lands books. In addition, everything in this book felt temporary, which is logical considering the setting and plot, but doesn't really make for a good book. While this is a post-apocalyptic setting, this isn't a good post-apoc book, it doesn't have any of the feel of that genre and the inhabitants seem to have skipped the post apocalypse phase and gone right to the middle ages, forgetting absolutely everything about technology. There's a total lack of books, science and technology, but no explanation why. The inhabitants aren't anti-technology, its just a completely ignored fact of life. This may just be a characteristic of Brook's books, in general, the details of ordinary life are left out. However, in this time and setting, its a strange omission.
I like Brook's books in general, but this isn't his best. ( )
  Karlstar | Oct 2, 2013 |
Another story begins in the Shannara world. I'm not sure what I thought. It was enjoyable, but nothing special. It ends in a cliffhanger, but I expected that (being that it's the first in a trilogy), so it didn't bother me. I think what's really bothering me about the new Shannara books is that I miss old Shannara. All of these prequels about the history of the world.. They're okay in idea, but for me they take away part of the mystery that was Shannara.

As much as I hate to admit it, I think everything there is to be said about Shannara has already been said. I love Brooks as a story teller and writer, but I think he needs a new world. I said this in my review of the latest Landover book as well... But it applies here too. This is like old Shannara light. If stories are going to continue to be told in this world, I really hope in the future it is because there is a story to be told.

But still, three stars, barely, only because I'm a long time Shannara fan. ( )
  breakofdawn | Jun 11, 2013 |
With Bearers of the Black Staff, Terry Brooks continues bridging "our" modern age of science and technology with the magical world of Shannara. This book takes place after the global apocalypse at the end of the Genesis of Shannara series. The heroes from that series have spent the last 500 years protected and trapped inside a valley deep in the mountains. An ancient faerie magic has kept them safely isolated from the dangers of the world outside. And now, the magic barrier is coming down and the people of the valley must somehow transform into the people of the Four Lands we've come to know from other Shannara books.

As of right now, this book is the first in a duology. I've heard rumors that there will be a third book, but as of right now there doesn't seem to be any evidence confirming those rumors, so I suspect that the second book will finish up this storyline and thus also finalize the trajectory that moves us wholly into the mystical world of druids, elves, trolls, men and magic.

The people of the valley are obviously unprepared to deal with whatever dangers lurk outside. Furthermore, many of them are entrenched in their ways and are very reluctant to even entertain the possibility that the magical barrier is coming down. There is a religious sect with beliefs based on "the Hawk"…the Gypsy Morph boy who led the people into the valley in the first place. In exploring this sect, Brooks (through Sider) makes small commentary on the concept of religion especially in the face of changes in the world. The commentary wasn't especially critical in one way or another, but it was an interesting aside.

Like Brooks's other books, in Bearers we are introduced to a variety of characters, most of which are young or otherwise inexperienced in wielding magic or even mundane weapons of any kind. Our central characters include the current Knight of the Word, Sider Ament, a pair of human trackers he encounters, Panterra and Prue. As the story progresses, we meet other characters who become important in this book and will have obvious importance in the subsequent novel. Aside from Sider, the 3 primary characters (Panterra, Prue and the elven princess Phryne) are very young and impetuous. This is sort of standard operating procedure for Brooks but what felt odd to me was that even though these three characters were obviously going to be of extreme importance (especially knowing Brooks's formula), I was surprised at the level of involvement we got from these three. They were certainly involved in the adventure, but they seemed hesitant and nervous and weren't ever really pushed into the position of action that I kept hoping for.

In fact, even though the story development was interesting, part of me felt like this book was really stalling. I was very compelled by the idea of an isolated culture suddenly being confronted by new horrific dangers. I was excited by the thrilling adventure early on when we get a small glimpse of the kind of creatures and threats from outside the valley. I was satisfied with the intensive treatment to character and social development of the community inside the valley. But overall I was a little let down by the lack of much forward momentum. While the details were great, I felt like we got bogged down with a lot of details to fill the pages and stretch the story out into multiple novels. I found the writing and the development interesting, but I would have much rather had a bit less description and smaller degree of character/psychological development in lieu of a steadier progression towards the actual climactic confrontation between those in the valley and those outside.

While there were a few nice surprise revelations in the story, I felt like large chunks of the story were moderately predictable and formulaic. Each time a new character was introduced, it seemed like the story arc had to slow down and expand accordingly in order to create additional scenes to show individual character history and development rather than allowing for rapid character development through shared scenes where we get to know the traits and behaviors or many characters at once.

Overall, I still enjoyed this story. Part of that is certainly due to my nostalgic love for all things Terry Brooks and my joy in having more material that expands and explains his world. The story, characters and plot are intriguing and compelling. I just personally felt like we were being strung along in order to turn this overall story into two ~300 page books rather than (perhaps) a single book of ~450-500 pages. I feel like the story could have been tightened up and become significantly more compelling and interesting without losing much in terms of content or development.

If you haven't been following the series (particularly Genesis of Shannara), you might need a little synopsis catch up to get your feet, but Brooks usually does a pretty good job of reminding or educating readers the basics of what's come before. Die hard Shannara fans should have a good time and I'm sure it will hold general appeal to the fantasy readers as a whole. I was let down that this book didn't get farther along before running out of pages, but that just leaves me more interested to find out what happens in the next book.

***
2.5 out of 5 stars ( )
  theokester | Dec 18, 2012 |
Prior to reading Bearers of the Black Staff, I had not realized that his Shannara and Knight of the Word series were interconnected. One of the things that I especially liked about this novel is the way that Brooks presented the backstory that linked the stories following the time that Hawk, the Gypsy Morph delivered his people into the valley that had been protected by magical barriers, which are now down. The valley for the first time in five hundred years, exposed to the people and creatures that have survived the Great Wars. To make matters worse a troll army learns about them and is planning on invading.
Sider Ament, the last of the Knights of the Word, protects the valley with his magical staff. He is the first to realize that the protective barriers are down. He encounters two young trackers, Panterra Qu and Prue Liss, who are attacked by a couple of the creatures from the outside world. Sider Ament is there to protect them. Together they must warn the people of the valley. A common theme in Brooks' novels, the people they are trying to warn don't readily heed their advice. Absorbed in self-interest, greed and their own personal agenda, even those within the groups they are trying to protect thwart Sider, Panterra and Prue.
Reading Bearers of the Black Staff reminds me of why Terry Brooks is my favorite fantasy author. Reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series gives me a greater appreciation of Brooks. His story telling skills are top notch. His pace is excellent. Whereas Jordan is bloated and long-winded, Brooks doesn't waste time and words. Everything he writes adds to the plot, develops characters, or provides valuable backstory information that the reader needs. A very well written start to the Legends of Shannara series, and a book well worth reading.
Carl Alves - author of Blood Street ( )
  Carl_Alves | Nov 23, 2012 |
This is simply an easy, enjoyable book which links the Word and the Void with Shannara novels.

A Wheel of Time or Game of Thrones it is not, but it doesn't pretend to be either.

Knowing how prolific Brooks is, there will probably be a few more series to come and so - in the bigger scheme of things - if you're a Shannara fan it's probably worth a read to make sure you don't miss anything that might be important later on. ( )
  Jawin | Oct 13, 2012 |
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FOR STUART FINNIE Courage Under Fire
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Black ice coated Earth frozen hard by night temperatures that had dropped below freezing, a thin skein of slickness that challenged the grip of his toughened-rawhide boot soles.
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Five hundred years have passed since the devastating demon-led war tore apart the United States and nearly exterminated humankind. Those who escaped the carnage were led to sanctuary in an idyllic valley, its borders warded by powerful magic against the horrors beyond. But the cocoon of protective magic surrounding the valley has now vanished. When Sider Ament, the only surviving descendant of the Knights of the Word, detects unknown predators stalking the valley, he fears the worst. And when expert Trackers find two of their own gruesomely killed, there can be no doubt: The once safe haven has been made vulnerable to whatever still lurks in the outside wasteland. Together, Ament, the two young Trackers, and a daring Elf princess spearhead plans to defend their ancestral home. And in the thick of it all, the last wielder of the black staff and its awesome magic must find a successor to carry on the fight against the cresting new wave of evil
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When Sider Ament, the only surviving descendant of the Knights of the Word, detects unknown predators stalking the valley and Panterra Qu and Prue Liss, expert Trackers from the human village of Glensk Wood, find two of their own gruesomely killed, there can be no doubt: The once safe haven of generations has been laid bare and made vulnerable to whatever still lurks in the wasteland of the outside world. And in the thick of it all, the last wielder of the black staff and its awesome magic must find a successor to carry on the fight against the cresting new wave of evil.… (more)

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