The Elfstones of Shannara (Shannara Series #2)

The Elfstones of Shannara (Shannara Series #2)

4.4 177
by Terry Brooks, Darrell K. Sweet

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Thousands of years after the destruction of the age of man and science, new races and magic now rule the world, but an imminent danger threatens. A horde of evil Demons is beginning to escape and bring death upon the land. Only Wil Ohmsford, the

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Thousands of years after the destruction of the age of man and science, new races and magic now rule the world, but an imminent danger threatens. A horde of evil Demons is beginning to escape and bring death upon the land. Only Wil Ohmsford, the last of the Shannara bloodline, has the power to guard the Elven Princess Amberle on a perilous quest to the save the world, while the leader of the Demon force aims to stop their mission at any cost.
Praise for Terry Brooks
“Shannara was one of my favorite fictional worlds growing up, and I look forward to many return trips.”—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!
“If Tolkien is the grandfather of modern fantasy, Terry Brooks is its favorite uncle.”—Peter V. Brett, author of The Skull Throne
“A great storyteller, Terry Brooks creates rich epics filled with mystery, magic, and memorable characters.”—Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Terry Brooks
“Shannara was one of my favorite fictional worlds growing up, and I look forward to many return trips.”—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!
“If Tolkien is the grandfather of modern fantasy, Terry Brooks is its favorite uncle.”—Peter V. Brett, author of The Skull Throne
“A great storyteller, Terry Brooks creates rich epics filled with mystery, magic, and memorable characters.”—Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Shannara Series, #2
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.19(w) x 6.87(h) x 1.23(d)
960L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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Read an Excerpt

The night sky brightened faintly in the east with the approach of dawn as the Chosen entered the
Gardens of Life. Without, the Elven city of Arborlon lay sleeping, its people still wrapped in the warmth and solitude of their beds. But for the Chosen, the day had already begun. Their trailing white robes billowing slightly with a rush of summer wind, they passed between the sentries of the Black Watch, who stood rigid and aloof as such sentries had stood for centuries gone before the arched, wrought-iron gateway inlaid with silver scroll and ivory chips.
They passed quickly, and only their soft voices and the crunch of their sandaled feet on the gravel pathway disturbed the silence of the new day as they slipped into the pine-shadowed dark beyond.

The Chosen were the caretakers of the Ellcrys, the strange and wondrous tree that stood at the center of the Gardens—the tree, as the legends told, that served as protector against a primordial evil that had very nearly destroyed the Elves centuries ago, an evil that had been shut away from the earth since before the dawn of the old race of Men. In all the time that had followed, there had been Chosen to care for the
Ellcrys. Theirs was a tradition handed down through generations of
Elves, a tradition of service that the Elves regarded as both a coveted honor and a solemn duty.

Yet there was little evidence of solemnity in the procession that passed through the Gardens this morning. Two hundred and thirty days of the year of their service had gone by, and youthful spirits could no longer be easily subdued. The first sense of awe at the responsibility given them had long since passed, and the Chosen of the Elves were now just six young men on their way to perform a task they had performed each day since the time of their choosing, a task grown old and familiar—the greeting of the tree at the first touch of sunrise.

Only Lauren, youngest of this year's Chosen, was silent. He lagged a bit behind the others as they walked, taking no part in their idle chatter. His red head was bent in concentration, and there was a deep frown on his face. So wrapped up in his thoughts was he that he was not aware when the noise ahead ceased, nor of the steps that fell back beside him, until a hand touched his arm. Then his troubled face jerked up abruptly to find Jase regarding him.

"What's the matter, Lauren? Are you sick?" Jase asked. Because he was a few months older than the rest, Jase was the accepted leader of the Chosen.

Lauren shook his head, but the frown did not leave his face entirely.
"I'm all right."

"Something is bothering you. You've been brooding all morning.
Come to think of it, you were rather quiet last night, too."
Jase's hand on his shoulder brought the younger Elf about to face him. "Come on, out with it. Nobody expects you to serve if you're not feeling well."

Lauren hesitated, then sighed and nodded, "All right. It's the
Ellcrys. Yesterday, at sunset, just before we left her, I thought I saw some spotting on her leaves. It looked like wilt."

"Wilt? Are you sure? Nothing like that ever happens to the
Ellcrys—at least that's what wea've always been told," Jase said doubtfully.

"I could have been mistaken," Lauren admitted. "It was getting dark. I told myself then that it was probably just the way the shadows lay on the leaves. But the more I try to remember how it looked, the more I think it really was wilt."

There was a disconcerted muttering from the others, and one of them spoke. "This is Amberle's fault. I said before that something bad would come from having a girl picked as a Chosen."

"There were other girls among the Chosen, and nothing happened because of it," Lauren protested. He had always liked Amberle. She had been easy to talk to, even if she was King Eventine Elessedila's granddaughter.

"Not for five hundred years, Lauren," the other said.

"All right, that's enough," Jase interrupted. "We agreed not to talk about Amberle. You know that." He stood silently for a moment, pondering what Lauren had said. Then he shrugged. "It would be unfortunate if anything happened to the tree, especially while she was under our care. But after all, nothing lasts forever."

Lauren was shocked. "But Jase, when the tree weakens, the Forbidding will end and the Demons within will be freed . . ."

"Do you really believe those old stories, Lauren?" Jase laughed.

Lauren stared at the older Elf. "How can you be a Chosen and not believe?"

"I don't remember being asked what I believed when I was chosen,
Lauren. Were you asked?"

Lauren shook his head. Candidates for the honor of being Chosen were never asked anything. They were simply brought before the tree—young
Elves who had crossed over into manhood and womanhood in the prior year.
At the dawn of the new year, they gathered to pass beneath her limbs,
each pausing momentarily for acceptance. Those the tree touched upon the shoulders became the new Chosen, to serve until the year was done.
Lauren could still remember the mix of ecstasy and pride he had felt at the moment a slender branch had bent to touch him and he'd heard her speak his name.

And he remembered, too, the astonishment of all when Amberle had been called . . .

"It's just a tale to frighten children," Jase was saying.
"The real function of the Ellcrys is to serve as a reminder to the
Elven people that they, like her, survive despite all the changes that have taken place in the history of the Four Lands. She is a symbol of our people's strength, Lauren—nothing more."

He motioned for them all to resume their walk into the Gardens and turned away. Lauren lapsed back into thought. The older Elf's casual disregard for the legend of the tree disturbed him. Of course
Jase was from the city, and Lauren had observed that the people of
Arborlon seemed to take the old beliefs less seriously than did those of the little northern village from which he came. But the story of the
Ellcrys and the Forbidding wasn't just a story—it was the foundation of everything that was truly Elven, the most important event in the history of his people.

It had all taken place long ago, before the birth of the new world.
There had been a great war between good and evil""a war that the Elves had finally won by creating the Ellcrys and a Forbidding that had banished the evil Demons into a timeless dark. And so long as the
Ellcrys was kept well, so long would the evil be locked from the land.

So long as the Ellcrys was kept well . . .

He shook his head doubtfully. Maybe the wilt was but a trick of his imagination. Or a trick of the light. And if not, they would simply have to find a cure. There was always a cure.

Moments later, he stood with the others before the tree. Hesitantly, he looked up, then sighed in relief. It appeared as if the Ellcrys was unchanged. Perfectly formed, her silver-white trunk arched skyward in a symmetrically balanced network of tapered limbs clustered with broad,
five-cornered leaves that were blood-red in color. At her base, strips of green moss grew in patchwork runners through the cracks and crevices of the smooth-skinned bark, like emerald streams flowing down a mountain hillside. There were no splits to mar the trunk's even lines, no branches cracked or broken. So beautiful, he thought. He looked again,
but could see no signs of the sickness he had feared.

The others went to gather the tools they would use in the feeding and grooming of the tree and in the general upkeep of the Gardens. But Jase held Lauren back. "Would you like to greet her today, Lauren?" he asked.

Lauren stammered his surprised thanks. Jase was giving up his turn for the most special of tasks, obviously in an effort to cheer him.

He stepped forward under the spreading branches to lay his hands upon the smooth-skinned trunk, the others gathering about a few paces back to recite the morning greeting. He glanced upward expectantly, searching for the first beam of sunlight that would fall upon her form.

Then abruptly he drew back. The leaves directly above him were dark with patches of wilt. His heart fell. There was spotting elsewhere as well,
scattered throughout the tree. It was not a trick of light and shadow.
It was real.

He motioned frantically for Jase, then pointed as the other came forward. As was their custom at this time, they did not speak, but Jase gasped as he saw the extent of the damage already done. Slowly the two walked around the tree, discovering spots everywhere, some barely visible, others already darkening the leaves so badly that their blood-red color seemed drained away.

Whatever his professed beliefs concerning the tree, Jase was badly shaken, and his face reflected his dismay as he went back to confer in whispers with the others. Lauren moved to join them, but Jase quickly shook his head, motioning to the top of the tree, where the dawn's light had almost reached the uppermost branches.

Lauren knew his duty and he turned back again to the tree. Whatever else was to happen, the Chosen must greet the Ellcrys this day as they had greeted her each day since the beginning of their Order.

He placed his hands gently on the silver bark and the words of greeting were forming on his lips when a slender branch from the ancient tree dipped slightly to brush his shoulder.


The young Elf jumped at the sound of his name. But no one had spoken.
The sound had been in his mind, the voice little more than an image of his own face.

It was the Ellcrys!

He caught his breath, twisting his head to glimpse briefly the branch that rested on his shoulder before turning quickly back again. Confusion swept through him. Only once before had she spoken to him—on the day of his choosing. She had spoken his name then; she had spoken all their names. It had been the last time. She had never spoken to any of them after that. Never—except to Amberle, of course, and Amberle was no longer one of them.

He looked hurriedly at the others. They were staring at him, curious as to why he had stopped. Then the branch that rested upon his shoulder slipped down to wrap about him loosely, and he flinched involuntarily with its touch.

—Lauren. Call the Chosen to me—

The images appeared quickly and were gone. Hesitantly Lauren beckoned to his comrades. They came forward, questions forming on their lips as they stared upward at the silver-limbed tree. Branches lowered to clasp each,
and the voice of the Ellcrys whispered softly.

—Hear me. Remember what I tell you. Do not fail me—

A chill swept over them, and the Gardens of Life were shrouded in deep,
hollow silence, as if in all the world only they were alive. Images filled their minds, flowing one after the other in rapid succession.
There was horror contained in those images. Had they been able, the
Chosen would have turned away, to flee and hide until the nightmare that possessed them had passed and been forgotten. But the tree held them fast, and the images continued to flow and the horror to mount, until they felt they could stand no more.

Then at last it was finished, and the Ellcrys was silent once more, her limbs lifting from their shoulders and stretching wide to catch the warmth of the morning sun.

Lauren stood frozen, tears streaming down his cheeks. Shattered, the six
Chosen faced one another, and in each mind the truth whispered soundlessly.

The legend was not legend. The legend was life. Evil did indeed lie beyond a Forbidding that the Ellcrys maintained. Only she kept the Elven people safe.

And now she was dying.

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Elfstones of Shannara (Shannara Series #2) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 174 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read The Shannara series as a teenager looking for something similar to The Lord of the Rings. The series was amazing! But this book is my all time favorite!!! Its a beautifully written won't be able to put it down...
Gilbert_M_Stack More than 1 year ago
The sequel to Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara, Elfstones is a far superior work. It tells the story of the grandson of Shea Ohmsford, hero of the first novel, and his efforts to help a young elf girl save the world while a few brave men try to hold off demonic forces to save the elven kingdom As a teenager, I figured out about half way through the novel what “saving the world” meant in this book and I read with growing horror as I discovered that I was correct. It’s a very powerful story. Elfstone is a fast moving, action packed novel filled with wonderful characters: The Iron Man, Stee Jans remains one of my favorite heroes of all time; The Rover woman, Etria, one of the strongest characters in the book, whose only flaw is that for some incomprehensible reason, she likes Wil Ohmsford; and the introspective Prince Ander, who finds the weight of a kingdom on the shoulders he is quite certain are not ready. This is my favorite of the Shannara books. It’s definitely worth your time.
Sakura123 More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. This series got me interested in reading the sci-fantasy genre books. A whole new world was just waiting for me to discover. What an amazing journey!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This sequel to the Sword Of Shannara, tells a brilliant tale of the elves battling evil, with Wil Ohmsford and his magic stones seeking the seed and the 'Blood Fire' which will protect the land from the evil Demons. Read again, brilliantly, by Charles Keating, this magical tale has a terrific story line, great characters, and a thrilling ending. Worthy of listening to or reading. I look forward to the third part of the tale: The Wishsong Of Shannara.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this was one of the best books out of the Shannara series. The story moved along well and it wasn't too predictable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Finally I have found a sequel that measures up to original! I haven't finished yet, but am SOOOOOO excited to read it. Whether or not you liked the original has nothing to do with it. This book's awesome!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the last 20 years, my nightstand has had a love-affair with every Terry Brooks book. I have personally read every book of his, multiple times. I've read the Elfstones at least 5 times. Elfstones is an incredible book... Probably one of my favorite he's ever written. The story line is smooth, you never loose where you are. The antagonists are formidable, key players aren't spared, and the climax is almost a Shakespearian tragedy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read most of Terry's Shannara novels at least twice and some of them still keep me on the edge of my seat. I have yet to read (and buy) the Word/Void Trilogy, but that doesn't stop me from re-reading the Shannara series. This is a must have if you plan to continue returning to the land of Shannara. Happy Reading! :)
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KT_Iversen More than 1 year ago
I GUESS I EXPECTED SOMETHING TO HAPPEN! * I decided to review this book because I reviewed the first of this continuing saga. To this day I'm not sure what forced me to read it, as it was even more boring than its predecessor. In a nutshell, nothing ever happens but a long winded romp through the woods and occasional--very occasional--battles with evil. And here is the biggest problem with this book. The hero is one dimensional, lacking of personality, inept, and rarely ever does anything worth remembering. Yet somehow he always manages to overcome the evil pitted against him. The evil characters, on the other hand, are terribly cliche, overwhelmingly powerful to the point that they could never be beaten except by the use of serious hand of god tricks--yet are always thwarted or defeated outright. To conclude, the only suitable description for the outcome of this epic is A Trite Blend of Underwhelming and Anticlimactic Balderdash. Once again, however, I am glad that Terry succeed with this effort, along with his many others, because mine is only one opinion, and apparently not all that popular to boot. Furthermore, I still like to believe that someone, somewhere, should help to support the writers of our world, even when they're not amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Buffles More than 1 year ago
I you liked Lord of the Rings but are looking for something new to read this is a good substitute The setting, characters and story will seem familiar to those who enjoy the fantasy genre. Obviously not as good as LOTR but Elfstones will keep you entertained from cover to cover.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of Brook's best
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James McCulley More than 1 year ago
I read this book in a matter of days, the flow of the story took hold and did not let go. A great story, amazeing world, worth reading over and over.
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