Terry Brooks returns to a world of airships and Druids in “The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara,” the second installment of his fantasy book series.
Brooks, a New York Times-bestselling author, builds his new novel on effortless prose that makes his tale accessible to seasoned readers of fantasy fiction and newcomers alike. The gripping story-line and characters hold the reader’s attention, transporting them into his alternate world.
In book two, readers confront the devastating childhood of a young girl named Grianne Ohmsford. Her family has been slain by mysterious enemies, who promptly set fire to the family home. The girl hides in the cellar with her infant brother only to be kidnapped by a half-man/half-snake beast, known as a Mwellret. This Mwellret tells Grianne that he is known as the Morgawr and that only he can teach her to use the mystical powers known as wishsong to take her revenge against the Druids who destroyed her family.
The story moves years forward to show Grianne – now known to all as the Ilse Witch – has abandoned all memories of her former life and family except for her deep-seated hatred for the Druids. She works on perfecting her magic, a talent feared and loathed by many. No one else possesses the same kind of power as her until she meets a young man. The man claims to be her long-lost brother Bek. Unable to decide whether to kill him or spare him, she imprisons him until she can make up her mind.
Brooks shifts the story to another brother and sister duo aboard the now ravaged and drifting airship, the Jerle Shannara. Rue Meridian dangles from a rope trying to survive in the frigid climate, while wondering about her own fate as well as her shipmates. She manages to re-board her ship and free her brother Redden Alt Mer and the remaining members of their crew that survived the vicious attack by the Mwellrets.
Once she is reunited with her brother and friends, Rue begins to wonder about the fate of Walker Boh, the last Druid stranded alone underneath the ruined city Castledown. What follows is a series of wild conflicts as she and the other members of the Jerle Shennara try to find Walker before the Ilse Witch does. They reunited with Rue’s friend and young Druid protege, Bek Ohmsford, and then must attempt to regroup in time to challenge an evil force that threatens Castledown.
Brooks’ straightforward, unfettered style quickly moves the reader through his tale as he leads them along every turn and bend with a quick, smart style. Readers of the previous Jerle Shannara novel will be delighted by Brooks’ newest endeavor and should no doubt look forward to the conclusion of the series in the next and final installment, while new readers will be captivated by the ongoing saga of Brooks’ most jaded character, the Ilse Witch.
“The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara: Anthrax” is in stores now.