Ilse Witch (Voyage of the Jerle Shannara Series #1) [NOOK Book]


BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Terry Brooks's The Measure of the Magic.

A new novel by Terry Brooks is always a cause for celebration. For more than twenty years, the New York Times bestselling author of the classic Shannara epic has proven himself one of the modern masters of fantasy, winning the hearts and minds of devoted readers around the world. In his last acclaimed novel, Ilse Witch, a brave company of explorers led ...
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Ilse Witch (Voyage of the Jerle Shannara Series #1)

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BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Terry Brooks's The Measure of the Magic.

A new novel by Terry Brooks is always a cause for celebration. For more than twenty years, the New York Times bestselling author of the classic Shannara epic has proven himself one of the modern masters of fantasy, winning the hearts and minds of devoted readers around the world. In his last acclaimed novel, Ilse Witch, a brave company of explorers led by the last Druid, Walker Boh, traveled across unknown seas in search of an elusive magic. Yet perhaps Boh and his team were lured there for sinister, unforeseen purposes . . .

Now in Antrax, as the crew aboard the airship Jerle Shannara is attacked by evil forces, the Druid’s protégé Bek Rowe and his companions are pursued by the mysterious Ilse Witch. Meanwhile, Boh is alone, caught in a dark maze beneath the ruined city of Castledown, stalked by a hungry, unseen enemy.

For there is something alive in Castledown. Something not human. Something old beyond reckoning that covets the magic of Druids, elves, even the Ilse Witch. Something that hunts men for its own designs: Antrax. It is a spirit that commands ancient technologies and mechanical monsters, feeds off enchantment, and traps the souls of men.

With the Jerle Shannara under siege and Antrax threatening the bold and unwary, the Ilse Witch finds herself face-to-face with a boy who claims to be the brother she last saw as an infant. Now a young man, Bek wields the magic of the wishsong and carries the Sword of Shannara upon his back. Unsure whether to trust Bek or to slay him, the Ilse Witch takes him prisoner. One has come pursuing truth, the other revenge. Yet both seek Walker Boh–with the fate of the Four Lands hanging in the balance.

Return to the world of beloved novelist Terry Brooks, where creatures drift up from the earth like mist, a hypnotic song can kill, a sword can cut through a veil of lies–and one man, the true heir of an ancient magic, must choose between betrayal and redemption.

Something not human. Something old beyond reckoning that covets the magic of Druids, elves, even the Ilse Witch. Something that hunts men for its own designs: Antrax. It is a spirit that commands ancient technologies and mechanical monsters, feeds off enchantment, and traps the souls of men.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Having explored the arena of dark fantasy with the Demon trilogy (Running with the Demon, A Knight of the Word, etc.), bestselling author Terry Brooks returns to his phenomenally popular Shannara series. Brooks remains in excellent form, bringing all of his master storytelling abilities to the fore as he links this new trilogy to a saga started over two decades ago.

The Voyage of Jerle Shannara: Ilse Witch begins a generation after the events of the previous novel in the series, Talisman of Shannara. Walker Boh, the last of the Druids, is now an embittered outcast of the elven lands. The elf king, Allardon Elessedil, who has shunned Walker for years, now needs the Druid's aid. Walker may be the only one who can make sense of a map brought back by a dying member of lost expedition. This castaway is found floating on a piece of wreckage in the seas of the Blue Divide, and he might in fact be Allardon's brother, missing for 30 years. Assassins and thieves are also interested in the map, and after the king's murder, Walker takes it upon himself to follow the route toward a vast and ancient magical power. His mysterious enemy, the Ilse witch, is also in search of the three mystical keys for reasons of her own. Along with Walker on an airship are Quentin Leah, possessor of the magic sword of Leah, and Quentin's adopted brother, Bek Rowe, a young man whose own past may somehow be connected to that of the witch. This fellowship must first journey to the last remaining vestige of the Old World magic in Castledown in an attempt to ward off their enemies in an effort to save the world.

Here are the earmarks of all that made the Shannara series one of the most popular sagas of high fantasy ever: it is steeped in a well-detailed magical world, rich in mysterious atmosphere, and filled with engaging characters. Brooks does well in keeping many of the most important events and cast members shrouded in mystery. The Ilse witch, for all her power, is so enigmatic that she is a flawless foil to Walker Boh. The new cast is filled of intriguing and bizarre characters, while other well-known personalities occasionally crop up enough to appeal to all the fans of this 20-year-old old series. For those readers just beginning the journey, The Voyage of Jerle Shannara is the perfect starting point to draw them into the the earlier books.

--Tom Piccirilli

Dallas Morning News
Even readers who haven't read a Terry Brooks title since his classic Sword of Shannara will welcome The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara: Ilse Witch . . . The action and creatures come fast and furious. . . . This latest volume finds Mr. Brooks' power ascending.
Rocky Mountain News
"If Harry Potter has given you a thirst for fantasy and you have not discovered the magic of Terry Brooks, you are in for a treat.
Santa Cruz Sentinel
If you were delighted and entranced by Michael Ende's The Never Ending Story, you will definitely want to sample one of more of Terry Brooks's books.
Publishers Weekly
Continuing the saga begun in The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara: Ilse Witch (2000), bestseller Brooks opens this slick, lightweight fantasy with our band of heroes (Druids, elves, shape-shifters, Rovers, etc.) trapped on an island ruled by the evil artificial intelligence Antrax. Antrax has lured this disparate crew to its underground lair in order to use their assorted magics to expand its influence across the world of Shannara. The expedition's leader, the Druid Walker, wants to steal Antrax's ancient technology, but to gain it, he must engage in deadly combat with the machine. The treacherous seer, Ryer Ord Star, and the young, frightened elven prince, Ahren Elessedil, join the fight. Meanwhile, Bek Ohmsford, a prot?g? of Walker's who's been left mostly in the dark about his own magical potential, must try to convince his sister, the dangerous Ilse Witch, that his version of their shared past is true, as he struggles to keep her from killing him or his friends. Also complicating the plot are the battles of the Rovers to reclaim the group's airship the only means for the adventurers to return home. Some emotionally painful encounters occur with former friends who have been enslaved by Antrax, turned into cyborgs and forced to do the nasty AI's bidding. Brooks's fans are sure to be pleased with this action-packed yarn, which neatly weaves the many plots and characters into a coherent whole. Those readers looking for more depth or less predictability are unlikely to have started on this series in the first place. 12-city author tour. (Sept. 21) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Echoing with the themes, traditions and enchantments of Brooks's earlier Shannara novels, this lively new adventure, set a generation later, combines the familiar quest format used in The Sword of Shannara with an array of well-defined characters and malevolent beings. Rather than searching for a powerful sword, however, the Druid Walker and the Elven King Allardon Elessedil unite forces to retrieve an ambiguous prize, "a magic of spells invoked by words," that may fortify the Elven government and its people or destroy those who seek it. Guided by the knowledge of the dangers he will face beyond the Blue Divide, Walker spends a lengthy amount of time recruiting his crew members. For heroics, Walker enlists the aid of two Highland boys: Quentin, who has the power of the Leah family sword at his behest, and his foster brother Bek, an orphan of mysterious origins and unknown talents. Providing magical mobility are the Wing Riders, who fly the frequently unfriendly skies on giant Rocs. A female seer and empath, a shapeshifter with a dubious past, a dwarf, a number of Elven soldiers and several colorful, Gypsy-like Rovers who captain, navigate and repair the airship Jerle Shannara round out Walker's questing crew. Throughout, the inimical Ilse Witch, a powerful young sorceress and Walker's bitter rival, shadows the expedition as it overcomes several near fatal encounters. Although this first volume in Brooks's proposed trilogy sputters to a slow start, bogged down by necessary background information and character development, Brooks nevertheless manages to intensify and tighten the story's momentum as the Jerle Shannara reaches its final destination. Fans familiar with the Shannara series, and new readers as well, will enjoy this first Shannara tale in four years. Major ad/promo; 12-city author tour; simultaneous Random House Audio. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
When evidence of an ancient magic surfaces in the Elven lands, a race begins between Walker Boh, the last Druid, and his implacable enemy, the young woman known as the Ilse Witch. Brooks sets his newest installment in the best-selling Shannara series a generation after the events of Talisman of Shannara (1993) and introduces a new and intriguing cast of characters along with a few familiar faces. The Shannara mythology gains a new level of history and depth in a tale that should appeal to the series' legions of fans. Libraries may consider purchasing multiple copies to meet demand. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/00.] Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Internet Book Watch
Hunter Predd, on his Roc Obsidian, was patrolling near Wing House when he notices a man clinging to a piece of wood in the raging waters. He rescues the man who barely survives. He takes the man to a healer, but hides the map and bracelet the victim carried. He takes them to the Elf King Allordon Elessedil who recognizes the bracelet as that worn by his brother when last seen thirty years ago. Allordon's sibling searched for valuable treasure using the now missing Elfstones of Shannara. Allordon summons Walker, the last Druid, to visit him though they have not talked to one another in years. Upon learning what Allordon knows, Walker realizes the importance of the treasure as a powerful magical tool that could change the world order. They agree to form a team to find the treasure even as though Walker knows that his greatest enemy, the Witch Isle, watches them to gain possession for herself. Twenty-three years have passed since the release of the exciting The Sword Of Shannara. That world and the environs of The Voyage Of Jerle Shannara: Ilse Witch are quite different. However, both books and the many in between share in common the writer's ability to make that imaginary world seem real. This epic fantasy is filled with brilliant characters, an enthralling story line, and an urge that leaves the audience obsessing for the next two novels in the latest trilogy. Terry Brooks remains a master storyteller who makes the unbelieveable seem genuine.
—Internet Book Watch
Kirkus Reviews
After a time out to write about demons and knights (Angel Fire East, 1999, etc.), Brooks returns to his bestselling Shannara universe (First King of Shannara, 1996, etc.). A sort of "next generation," this one takes place a generation after the last of the previous series. Walker Boh, the last of the Druids, and the beautiful magician of the title team up to investigate a mysterious death. And no, of course Brooks hasn't forgotten about the sword. Author tour
From the Publisher
Rocky Mountain News

–The Dallas Morning News
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345444813
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/7/2000
  • Series: Voyage of the Jerle Shannara Series , #1
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 85,237
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Terry Brooks
A writer since high school, Terry Brooks published his first novel, The Sword of Shannara, in 1977. It was a New York Times bestseller for more than five months. He has published seventeen consecutive bestsellers since, including The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara: Ilse Witch and the novel based upon the screenplay and story by George Lucas: Star Wars®: Episode I The Phantom Menace™. His novels Running with the Demon and A Knight of the Word were each selected by the Rocky Mountain News as one of the best science fiction/ fantasy novels of the twentieth century.

The author was a practicing attorney for many years but now writes full-time. He lives with his wife, Judine, in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.

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"I found my way to fantasy/adventure. When I got there, I knew I'd found a home," said Terence Dean Brooks, creator of the blockbuster, New York Times bestselling Shannara, Landover, and Word & Void series. Not only is Brooks at home in the highly competitive realm of fantasy literature, many would call him the genre’s modern-day patriarch – Tolkien’s successor. While that title is debatable, Brooks is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most prolific and successful authors of otherworld (and our world) fantasy. Few writers in any genre can boast a more entertaining collection of work – and a more ravenous and loyal fan base -- than can Terry Brooks.

The most rewarding aspect to writing for Brooks is “when someone who never read a book reads [one of mine] and says that the experience changed everything and got them reading.” Because of his very engaging, quick-flowing writing style, countless numbers of young people have been introduced to the wonderful world of reading through Brooks’s adventures. The miraculous thing, however, is that these same fans – whether they’re now 20, 30, or 40 years old – still devour each new release like a starving man would a steak dinner. Credit Brooks’s boundless imagination, endearing characters, fresh storylines and underlying complexities for keeping his older, more discerning audience hooked.

Brooks began writing when he was just ten years old, but he did not discover fantasy until much later. As a high school student he jumped from writing science fiction to westerns to adventure to nonfiction, unable to settle on one form. That changed when, at the age of 21, Brooks was introduced to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien provided Brooks with a forum “that would allow him to release onto paper his own ideas about life, love, and the wonder that fills his world," according to his web site.

In 1977, after six trying years, Brooks published novel his first novel, The Sword of Shannara. And quickly it gave him – and his publisher (the newly created Ballantine imprint, Del Rey) – quite a thrill; the fantasy adventure featuring the young Halfling, Shea Ohmsford; the mysterious wizard Allanon; Flick, the trusty companion; and the demonic Warlock Lord, was not only well received -- it was a smash, spending over five months on The New York Times bestseller list. In 1982 Brooks released the follow-up, The Elfstones of Shannara (which Brooks says may be his favorite), to equal success. He closed out the initial trilogy in 1985 with The Wishsong of Shannara, and has since completed two more Shannara sets, The Heritage of Shannara books and the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara books.

As fans of Brooks know, the man doesn’t like to stay put. “I lived in Illinois for the first 42 years of my life, and I told myself when I left in 1986 that I would never live any one place again,” Brooks said. He now spends his time between his homes in Seattle and Hawaii; he and his wife also spend a great deal of time on the road each year connecting with the fans. These same nomadic tendencies are also apparent in his writing. Instead of staying comfortably within his proven, bestselling Shannara series, Terry frequently takes chances, steps outside, and tries something new. His marvelous Landover and Word & Void series are the results. While both are vastly different from Shannara, they are equally compelling. Word & Void – a contemporary, dark urban fantasy series set in a fantasy-touched Illinois – is quite possibly Brooks’s most acclaimed series. The Rocky Mountain News called the series’ first two books (Running with the Demon and The Knight of the Word “two of the finest science fiction/fantasy novels of the 20th century.”

Good To Know

When The Sword of Shannara hit The New York Times bestseller list, Brooks became the first modern fantasy author to achieve that pinnacle.

The Sword of Shannara was also the first work of fiction to ever hit The New York Times trade paperback bestseller list. Thanks to a faithful and growing fan base, the books continue to reach the list.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was not Terry's first novelization. He also novelized Steven Spielberg's 1991 movie, Hook.

Brooks’s The Phantom Menace novelization is also not his only connection to George Lucas. Both The Sword of Shannara and the original Star Wars novel, A New Hope, were edited by Judy Lynn del Rey and published in the same year (1977) to blockbuster success.

The Sword of Shannara was initially turned down by DAW Books. Instead, DAW sent Terry to Lester del Rey, who recognized Terry’s blockbuster potential and bought it. And the rest, they say, is history.

Brooks’s influences include: J.R.R. Tolkien, Alexander Dumas, James Fenimore Cooper, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Mallory's Morte d'Arthur.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Terence Dean Brooks (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Pacific Northwest and Hawaii
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 8, 1944
    2. Place of Birth:
      Sterling, Illinois
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Hamilton College, 1966; J.D., Washington and Lee University
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt


Grianne Ohmsford was six years old on the last day of her childhood. She was small for her age and lacked unusual strength of body or extraordinary life experience and was not therefore particularly well prepared for growing up all at once. She had lived the whole of her life on the eastern fringes of the Rabb Plains, a sheltered child in a sheltered home, the eldest of two born to Araden and Biornlief Ohmsford, he a scribe and teacher, she a housewife. People came and went from their home as if it were an inn, students of her father, clients drawing on the benefit of his skills, travelers from all over the Four Lands. But she herself had never been anywhere and was only just beginning to understand how much of the world she knew nothing about when everything she did know was taken from her.

While she was unremarkable in appearance and there was nothing about her on the surface of things that would suggest she could survive any sort of life-altering trauma, the truth of the matter was that she was strong and able in unexpected ways. Some of this showed in her startling blue eyes, which pinned you with their directness and pierced you through to your soul. Strangers who made the mistake of staring into them found themselves glancing quickly away. She did not speak to these men and women or seem to take anything away from her encounters, but she left them with a sense of having given something up anyway. Wandering her home and yard, long dark hair hanging loose, a waif seemingly at a loss for something to do or somewhere to go, or just sitting alone in a corner while the adults talked among themselves, she claimed her own space and kept it inviolate.

She was tough-minded, as well, a stubborn and intractable child who once her mind was set on something refused to let it be changed. For a time her parents could do so by virtue of their re- lationship and the usual threats and enticements, but eventually they found themselves incapable of influencing her. She seemed to find her identity in making a stand on matters, by holding forth in challenge and accepting whatever came her way as a result. Frequently it was a stern lecture and banishment to her room, but often it was simply denial of something others thought would benefit her. Whatever the case, she did not seem to mind the consequences and was more apt to be bothered by capitulation to their wishes.

But at the core of everything was her heritage, which manifested itself in ways that hadn’t been apparent for generations. She knew early on that she was not like her parents or their friends or anyone else she knew. She was a throwback to the most famous members of her family—to Brin and Jair and Par and Coll Ohmsford, to whom she could directly trace her ancestry. Her parents explained it to her early on, almost as soon as her talent revealed itself. She was born with the magic of the wishsong, a latent power that surfaced in the Ohmsford family bloodline only once in every four or five generations. Wish for it, sing for it, and it would come to pass. Anything was possible. The wishsong hadn’t been present in an Ohmsford in her parents’ lifetimes, and so neither of them had any firsthand experience with how it worked. But they knew the stories, had been told them repeatedly by their own parents, the tales of the magic carried down from the time of the great Queen Wren, another of their ancestors. So they knew enough to recognize what it meant when their child could bend the stalks of flowers and turn aside an angry dog simply by singing.

Her use of the wishsong was rudimentary and undisciplined at first, and she did not understand that it was special. In her child’s mind, it seemed reasonable that everyone would possess it. Her parents worked to help her realize its worth, to harness its power, and to learn to keep it secret from others. Grianne was a smart girl, and she understood quickly what it meant to have something others would covet or fear if they knew she possessed it. She listened to her parents about this, although she paid less attention to their warnings about the ways it should be used and the purposes to which it should be put. She knew enough to show them what they expected of her and to hide from them what they did not.

So on the last day of her childhood she had already come to terms with having use of the magic. She had constructed defenses to its demands and subterfuges to her parents’ refusals to let her fully test its limits. Wrapped in the armor of her strong-minded determination and stubborn insistence, she had built a fortress in which she wielded the wishsong with a sense of impunity. Her child’s world was already more complex and devious than that of many adults, and she was learning the importance of never giving away everything of who and what she was. It was her gift of magic and her understanding of its workings that saved her.

At the same time, and through no fault of her own, it was what doomed her parents and younger brother.

She knew there was something wrong with her child’s world some weeks before that last day. It manifested itself in small ways, things that her parents and others could not readily detect. There were oddities in the air—smells and tastes and sounds that whispered of a hidden presence and dark emotions. She caught glimpses of shadows on the vibrations of her voice that returned to her when she used the magic of her song. She felt changes in heat and cold that came only when she was threatened, except that always before she could trace their source and this time she could not. Once or twice, she sensed the closeness of dark-cloaked forms, perhaps the shape-shifters she had found out on several occasions before, always hidden and out of reach, but there nevertheless.

She said nothing to her parents of these things because she had no solid evidence of them and only suspicion on which to buttress her complaints. Even so, she kept close watch. Her home was at the edge of a grove of maple trees and looked out across the flat, green threshold of the Rabb all the way to the foothills of the Dragon’s Teeth. While nothing could approach out of the west without being visible from a long way off, forests and hills shielded the other three quadrants. She scouted them from time to time, a precaution undertaken to give her a sense of security. But whatever watched was careful, and she never found it out. It hid from her, avoided her, moved away when she approached, and always returned. She could feel its eyes on her even as she looked for it. It was clever and skilled; it was accustomed to staying hidden when others would find it out.

She should have been afraid, but she had not been raised with fear and had no reason to appreciate its uses. For her, fear was an annoyance she sought to banish and did not heed. She asked her father finally if there was anyone who would wish to hurt her, or him, or her mother or brother, but he only smiled and said they had nothing anyone would want that would provide reason for harm. He said it in a calm, assured way, a teacher imparting knowledge to a student, and she did not believe he could be wrong.

When the black-cloaked figures finally came, they did so just before dawn, when the light was so pale and thin that it barely etched the edges of the shadows. They killed the dog, old Bark, when he wandered out for a look, an act that demonstrated unmistakably the nature of their dark intent. She was awake by then, alerted by some inner voice tied to her magic, hurrying through the rooms of her home on cat’s paws, searching for the danger that was already at the door. Her family was alone that morning, all of the travelers either come and gone or still on their way, and there was no one to stand with them in the face of their peril.

Grianne never hesitated when she caught sight of the shadowy forms sliding past the windows. She sensed the presence of danger all around, a circle of iron blades closing with inexorable purpose. She yelled for her father and ran back to her bedroom, where her brother lay sleeping. She snatched him up without a word, hugging him to her. Soft and warm, he was barely two years old. She carried him from the room and down into the earthen cellar where perishable foodstuffs were kept. Above, her parents sought to cover her flight. The sounds of breaking glass and splintering wood erupted, and she could hear her father’s angry shouts and oaths. He was a brave man, and he would stand and fight. But it would not be enough; she sensed that much already. She released a catch and pulled back the shelving section that hid the entrance to the cramped storm shelter they had never used. She placed her sleeping brother on a pallet inside. She stared down at him for a moment, at his tiny face and balled fists, at his sleeping form, hearing the shouts and oaths overhead turn to screams of pain and anguish, aware of tears flooding her eyes.

Black smoke was seeping through the floorboards when she slipped from the shelter and sealed the entry behind her. She heard the crackle of flames consuming wood. Her parents gone, the intruders would come for her, but she would be quicker and more clever than they expected. She would escape them, and once she was safely away, outside in the pale dawn light, she would run the five miles to the next closest home and return with help for her brother.

She heard the black-cloaked forms searching for her as she hurried along a short passageway to a cellar door that led directly outside. Outside, the door was concealed by bushes and seldom used; it was not likely they would think to find her there. If they did, they would be sorry. She already knew the sort of damage the wishsong could cause. She was a child, but she was not helpless. She blinked away her tears and set her jaw. They would find that out one day. They would find that out when she hurt them the same way they were hurting her.

Then she was through the door and outside in the brightening dawn light, crouched in the bushes. Smoke swirled about her in dark clouds, and she felt the heat of the fire as it climbed the walls of her home. Everything was being taken from her, she thought in despair. Everything that mattered.

A sudden movement to one side drew her attention. When she turned to look, a hand wrapped in a foul-smelling cloth closed over her face and sent her spiraling downward into blackness.

When she awoke, she was bound, gagged, and blindfolded, and she could not tell where she was or who held her captive or even if it was day or night. She was carried over a thick shoulder like a sack of wheat, but her captors did not speak. There were more than one; she could hear their footsteps, heavy and certain. She could hear their breathing. She thought about her home and parents. She thought about her brother. The tears came anew, and she began to sob. She had failed them all.

She was carried for a long time, then laid upon the ground and left alone. She squirmed in an effort to free herself, but the bonds were too tightly knotted. She was hungry and thirsty, and a cold desperation was creeping through her. There could be only one reason she had been taken captive, one reason she was needed when her parents and brother were not. Her wishsong. She was alive and they were dead because of her legacy. She was the one with the magic. She was the one who was special. Special enough that her family was killed so that she could be stolen away. Special enough to cause everything she loved and cared for to be taken from her.

There was a commotion not long after that, sudden and unexpected, filled with new sounds of battle and angry cries. They seemed to be coming from all around her. Then she was snatched from the ground and carried off, leaving the sounds behind. The one who carried her now cradled her while running, holding her close, as if to soothe her fear and desperation. She curled into her rescuer’s arms, burrowed as if stricken, for such was the depth of her need.

When they were alone in a silent place, the bonds and gag and blindfold were removed. She sat up and found herself facing a big man wrapped in black robes, a man who was not entirely human, his face scaly and mottled like a snake’s, his fingers ending in claws, and his eyes lidless slits. She caught her breath and shrank from him, but he did not move away in response.

“You are safe now, little one,” he whispered. “Safe from those who would harm you, from the Dark Uncle and his kind.”

She did not know whom he was talking about. She looked around guardedly. They were crouched in a forest, the trees stark sentinels on all sides, their branches confining amid a sea of sunshine that dappled the woodland earth like gold dust. There was no one else around, and nothing of what she saw looked familiar.

“There is no reason to be afraid of me,” the other said. “Are you frightened by how I look?”

She nodded warily, swallowing against the dryness in her throat.

He handed her a water skin, and she drank gratefully. “Do not be afraid. I am of mixed breed, both Man and Mwellret, little one. I look scary, but I am your friend. I was the one who saved you from those others. From the Dark Uncle and his shape-shifters.”

That was twice he had mentioned the Dark Uncle. “Who is he?” she asked. “Is he the one who hurt us?”

“He is a Druid. Walker is his name. He is the one who attacked your home and killed your parents and your brother.” The reptilian eyes fixed on her. “Think back. You will remember seeing his face.”

To her surprise, she did. She saw it clearly, a glimpse of it as it passed a window in the thin dawn light, dusky skin and black beard, eyes so piercing they stripped you bare, dark brow creased with frown lines. She saw him, knew him for her enemy, and felt a rage of such intensity she thought she might burn from the inside out.

Then she was crying, thinking of her parents and her brother, of her home and her lost world. The man across from her drew her gently into his arms and held her close.

“You cannot go back,” he told her. “They will be searching for you. They will never give up while they think you are alive.”

She nodded into his shoulder. “I hate them,” she said in a thin, sharp wail.

“Yes, I know,” he whispered. “You are right to hate them.” His rough, guttural voice tightened. “But listen to me, little one. I am the Morgawr. I am your father and mother now. I am your family. I will help you to find a way to gain revenge for what has been taken from you. I will teach you to ward yourself against everything that might hurt you. I will teach you to be strong.”

He whisked her away, lifting her as if she weighed nothing, and carried her deeper into the woods to where a giant bird waited. He called the bird a Shrike, and she flew on its back with him to another part of the Four Lands, one dark and solitary and empty of sound and life. He cared for her as he said he would, trained her in mind and body, and kept her safe. He told her more of the Druid Walker, of his scheming and his hunger for power, of his long-sought goal of dominance over all the Races in all the lands. He showed her images of the Druid and his black-cloaked servants, and he kept her anger fired and alive within her child’s breast.

“Never forget what he has stolen from you,” he would repeat. “Never forget what you are owed for his betrayal.”

After a time he began to teach her to use the wishsong as a weapon against which no one could stand—not once she had mastered it and brought it under her control, not once she had made it so much a part of her that its use seemed second nature. He taught her that even a slight change in pitch or tone could alter health to sickness and life to death. A Druid had such power, he told her. The Druid Walker in particular. She must learn to be a match for him. She must learn to use her magic to overcome his.

After a while she thought no longer of her parents and her brother, whom she knew to be dead and lost to her forever; they were no more than bones buried in the earth, a part of a past forever lost, of a childhood erased in a single day. She gave herself over to her new life and to her mentor, her teacher, and her friend. The Morgawr was all those while she grew through adolescence, all those and much more. He was the shaper of her thinking and the navigator of her life. He was the inspiration for her magic’s purpose and the keeper of her dreams of righting the wrongs she had suffered.

He called her his little Ilse Witch, and she took the name for her own. She buried her given name with her past, and she never used it again.
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First Chapter

Chapter One

Hunter Predd was patrolling the waters of the Blue Divide north of the island of Mesca Rho, a Wing Hove outpost at the western edge of Elven territorial waters, when he saw the man clinging to the spar. The man was draped over the length of wood as if a cloth doll, his head laid on the spar so that his face was barely out of the water, one arm wrapped loosely about his narrow float to keep him from sliding away. His skin was burned and ravaged from sun, wind, and weather, and his clothing was in tatters. He was so still it was impossible to tell if he was alive. It was the odd rolling movement of his body within the gentle swells, in fact, that first caught Hunter Predd's eye.

Obsidian was already banking smoothly toward the castaway, not needing the touch of his master's hands and knees to know what to do. His eyes sharper than those of the Elf, he had spotted the man in the water before Hunter and shifted course to effect a rescue. It was a large part of the work he was trained to do, locating and rescuing those whose ships had been lost at sea. The Roc could tell a man from a piece of wood or a fish a thousand yards away.

He swung around slowly, great wings stretched wide, dipping toward the surface and plucking the man from the waters with a sure and delicate touch. Great claws wrapped securely, but gently, about the limp form, the Roc lifted away again. Depthless and clear, the late spring sky spread away in a brilliant blue dome brightened by sunlight that infused the warm air and reflected in flashes of silver off the waves. Hunter Predd guided his mount back toward the closest piece of land available, a small atoll some miles from Mesca Rho. There he would see what, if anything, could be done.

They reached the atoll in less than half an hour, Hunter Predd keeping Obsidian low and steady in his flight the entire way. Black as ink and in the prime of his life, the Roc was his third as a Wing Rider and arguably the best. Besides being big and strong, Obsidian had excellent instincts and had learned to anticipate what Hunter wished of him before the Wing Rider had need to signal it. They had been together five years, not long for a Rider and his mount, but sufficiently long in this instance that they performed as if linked in mind and body.

Lowering to the leeward side of the atoll in a slow flapping of wings, Obsidian deposited his burden on a sandy strip of beach and settled down on the rocks nearby. Hunter Predd jumped off and hurried over to the motionless form. The man did not respond when the Wing Rider turned him on his back and began to check for signs of life. There was a pulse, and a heartbeat. His breathing was slow and shallow. But when Hunter Predd checked his face, he found his eyes had been removed and his tongue cut out.

He was an Elf, the Wing Rider saw. Not a member of the Wing Hove, however. The lack of harness scars on his wrists and hands marked him so. Hunter examined his body carefully for broken bones and found none. The only obvious physical damage seemed to be to his face. Mostly, he was suffering from exposure and lack of nourishment. Hunter placed a little fresh water from his pouch on the man's lips and let it trickle down his throat. The man's lips moved slightly.

Hunter considered his options and decided to take the man to the seaport of Bracken Clell, the closest settlement where he could find an Elven Healer to provide the care that was needed. He could take the man to Mesca Rho, but the island was only an outpost. Another Wing Rider and himself were its only inhabitants. No healing help could be found there. If he wanted to save the man's life, he would have to risk carrying him east to the mainland.

The Wing Rider bathed the man's skin in fresh water and applied a healing salve that would protect it from further damage. Hunter carried no extra clothing; the man would have to travel in the rags he wore. He tried again to give the man fresh water, and this time the man's mouth worked more eagerly in response, and he moaned softly. For an instant his ruined eyes tried to open, and he mumbled unintelligibly.

As a matter of course and in response to his training, the Wing Rider searched the man and took from his person the only two items he found. Both surprised and perplexed him. He studied each carefully, and the frown on his lips deepened.

Unwilling to delay his departure any longer, Hunter picked up the man and, with Obsidian's help, eased him into place on the Roc's broad back. A pad cushioned and restraining straps secured him. After a final check, Hunter climbed back aboard his mount, and Obsidian lifted away.

They flew east toward the coming darkness for three hours, and sunset was approaching when they sighted Bracken Clell. The seaport's population was a mixture of races, predominantly Elven, and the inhabitants were used to seeing Wing Riders and their Rocs come and go. Hunter Predd took Obsidian upland to a clearing marked for landings, and the big Roc swung smoothly down into the trees. A messenger was sent into town from among the curious who quickly gathered, and the Elven Healer appeared with a clutch of litter bearers.

"What's happened to him?" the Healer asked of Hunter Predd, on discovering the man's empty eye sockets and ruined mouth.

Hunter shook his head. "That's how I found him."

"Identification? Who is he?"

"I don't know," the Wing Rider lied.

He waited until the Healer and his attendants had picked up the man and begun carrying him toward the Healer's home, where the man would be placed in one of the sick bays in the healing center, before dispatching Obsidian to a more remote perch, then following after the crowd. What he knew was not to be shared with the Healer or anyone else in Bracken Clell. What he knew was meant for one man only.

He sat on the Healer's porch and smoked his pipe, his long- bow and hunting knife by his side as he waited for the Healer to reemerge. The sun had set, and the last of the light lay across the waters of the bay in splashes of scarlet and gold. Hunter Predd was small and slight for a Wing Rider, but tough as knotted cord. He was neither young nor old, but comfortably settled in the middle and content to be there. Sun-browned and windburned, his face seamed and his eyes gray beneath a thick thatch of brown hair, he had the look of what he wasóan Elf who had lived all of his life in the outdoors.

Once, while he was waiting, he took out the bracelet and held it up to the light, reassuring himself that he had not been mistaken about the crest it bore. The map he left in his pocket.

One of the Healer's attendants brought him a plate of food, which he devoured silently. When he was finished eating, the attendant reappeared and took the plate away, all without speaking. The Healer still hadn't emerged.

It was late when he finally did, and he looked haggard and unnerved as he settled himself next to Hunter. They had known each other for some time, the Healer having come to the seaport only a year after Hunter had returned from the border wars and settled into Wing Rider service off the coast. They had shared in more than one rescue effort and, while of different backgrounds and callings, were of similar persuasion regarding the foolishness of the world's progress. Here, in an outback of the broader civilization that was designated the Four Lands, they had found they could escape a little of the madness.

"How is he?" Hunter Predd asked.

The Healer sighed. "Not good. He may live. If you can call it that. He's lost his eyes and his tongue. Both were removed forcibly. Exposure and malnutrition have eroded his strength so severely he will probably never recover entirely. He came awake several times and tried to communicate, but couldn't."

"Maybe with timeó"

"Time isn't the problem," the Healer interrupted, drawing his gaze and holding it. "He cannot speak or write. It isn't just the damage to his tongue or his lack of strength. It is his mind. His mind is gone. Whatever he has been through has damaged him irreparably. I don't think he knows where he is or even who he is."

Hunter Predd looked off into the night. "Not even his name?"

"Not even that. I don't think he remembers anything of what's happened to him."

The Wing Rider was silent a moment, thinking. "Will you keep him here for a while longer, care for him, watch over him? I want to look into this more closely."

The Healer nodded. "Where will you start?"

"Arborlon, perhaps."

A soft scrape of a boot brought him about sharply. An attendant appeared with hot tea and food for the Healer. He nodded to them without speaking and disappeared again. Hunter Predd stood, walked to the door to be certain they were alone, then reseated himself beside the Healer.

"Watch this damaged man closely, Dorne. No visitors. Nothing until you hear back from me."

The Healer sipped at his tea. "You know something about him that you're not telling me, don't you?"

"I suspect something. There's a difference. But I need time to make certain. Can you give me that time?"

The Healer shrugged. "I can try. The man inside will have something to say about whether he will still be here when you return. He is very weak. You should move swiftly."

Hunter Predd nodded. "As swift as Obsidian's wings can fly," he replied softly.

Behind him, in the near darkness of the open doorway, a shadow detached itself from behind a wall and moved silently away.

The attendant who had served dinner to the Wing Rider and the Healer waited until after midnight, when the people of Bracken Clell were mostly asleep, to slip from his rooms in the village into the surrounding forest. He moved quickly and without the benefit of light, knowing his path well from having traveled it many times before. He was a small, wizened man who had spent the whole of his life in the village and was seldom given a second glance. He lived alone and had few friends. He had served in the Healer's household for better than thirteen years, a quiet, uncomplaining sort who lacked imagination but could be depended on. His qualities suited him well in his work as a Healer's attendant, but even better as a spy.

He reached the cages he kept concealed in a darkened pen behind the old cabin in which he had been born. When his father and mother had died, possession had passed to him as the eldest male. It was a poor inheritance, and he had never accepted that it was all to which he was entitled. When the opportunity had been offered to him, he snatched at it eagerly. A few words overheard here and there, a face or a name recognized from tales told in taverns and ale houses, bits and pieces of information tossed his way by those rescued from the ocean and brought to the center to healóthey were all worth something to the right people.

And to one person in particular, make no mistake about it.

The attendant understood what was expected of him. She had made it clear from the beginning. She was to be his Mistress, to whom he must answer most strongly should he step from between the lines of obedience she had charted for him. Whoever passed through the Healer's doors and whatever they said, if they or it mattered at all, she was to know. She told him the decision to summon her was his, always his. He must be prepared to answer for his summons, of course. But it would be better to act boldly than belatedly. A chance missed was much less acceptable to her than time wasted.

He had guessed wrongly a few times, but she had not been angry or critical. A few mistakes were to be expected. Mostly, he knew what was worth something and what was not. Patience and perseverance were necessary.

He'd developed both, and they had served him well. This time, he knew, he had something of real value.

He unfastened the cage door and took out one of the strange birds she had given him. They were wicked-looking things with sharp eyes and beaks, swept-back wings, and narrow bodies. They watched him whenever he came in sight, or took them out of the cages, or fastened a message to their legs, as he was doing now. They watched him as if marking his efficiency for a report they would make later. He didn't like the way they looked at him, and he seldom looked back.

When the message was in place, he tossed the bird into the air, and it rose into the darkness and disappeared. They flew only at night, these birds. Sometimes, they returned with messages from her. Sometimes, they simply reappeared, waiting to be placed back in their cages. He never questioned their origins. It was better, he sensed, simply to accept their usefulness.

He stared into the night sky. He had done what he could. There was nothing to do now, but wait.

She would tell him what was needed next. She always did.

Copyright © 2000 by Terry Brooks.

Closing the doors to the pen so that the cages were hidden once more, he crept silently back the way he had come.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 95 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 96 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    If you've read the other Shannara books Ilse Witch can take a li

    If you've read the other Shannara books Ilse Witch can take a little getting used too, with the introduction of airships. At first I was a little hesitant to read it. I thought it would be less compelling than previous novels because of the airships but I was wrong. It kept me up all night turning pages. Ilse Witch was a good start to a great series

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  • Posted November 5, 2008

    addendum to review

    In addendum, actually an erratum, it was Cree Bega, more than Truls Rohk, that has the snakelike hiss, of a voice, excellently provided for it, by Sam Fontana in the audio version of this work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2008

    Terry Brooks is amazing!

    Ilse Witch was another amazing book written by Terry himself! That man seems to produce gold! At first, I thought the novel was a bit too fast paced, different from his usual slow beginnings. After Quentin and Bek set off to find Truls Rok, that was when things slowed down until they actually started to go to the Islands. I was almost disappointed when I started reading the middle of the beginning, but I pressed on. I am so glad I did! The book exploded into an amazing piece of work! The characters coming alive once more and I found myself reading several chapters at a time instead of just half a chapter. It was worth the wait! I highly suggest this novel for a Terry Brooks fan, or if you haven't read any of his novels, just remember to keep on moving forward!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2005


    I've read the original Shannara series and these don't even come close to them. Witch just sags and drags for about the first 250 pages and then it finally takes off, which takes even longer! The characters are all totally fake (except for Walker) and really don't need to be in this book at all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2003


    I think that this is a freaking awesome book! Aaah i still need to get Antrax and Morgawr! I give this book 5 stars because it lives up to the other Shannara books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2003


    I have read all of Terry Brook's series including the word and the void, Landover, and of course Shannara. This particular book took a little getting used to with the introduction to the airships, but once I got a few chapters in I couldn't put it down. I finished it and ran right out and bought Antrax, after I finished that I had to wait a few months for Morgawr to be released. I have to say that was the most impatient I had ever felt. I enjoyed the ride.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2003

    A Wonderful Book

    this was a great book. i really enjoyed it. i read it when it first came out and literally ran to the store when the second book ,antrax, was released. i would recommend it to anyone(and now that the other books are out you won't have to go out of your mind waiting for them).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2003

    Who cares about the first zillion books in the Shannara series.

    I got this book by someone mistaking my love of the Magic Kingdom series as a sign that I would read anything by Terry Brooks. I did originally, years ago, read the first two books of the Shannara series and passed them on without another thought. Age has certainly helped the Ohmsford clan. You DO NOT have to read all the other books in this series to be able to follow along here. Although names and items are similiar to past books, this book starts a new series on it's own. The Voyage of the Jerle was smoothly written and kept me turning the pages wanting more. If you're not running out to get the Isle Witch, then fantasy isn't your genre.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2003

    Of course I gave him 5 stars!

    Terry Brooks... It's very probable that he is one of the best writers alive to day. Of course I gave him 5 stars. Didn't you? Every single one of the Shannara books deserves 10 stars and as far as I can tell Isle Witch is one of the best boks I am ever going to read : )!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2002

    thank you mister brooks, wherever you are!

    I began reading the Shanara books in high school. A bunch of us exchanged titles of books we had read - being the only girl in the group was not a problem - the guys treated me as one of them! I was taken away to a special place and had missed that feeling these past years. Finding the Lost Kingdom of Landover was helpful, but I am glad to be back in Shanara!! I enjoy the pictures of people and places Brooks has painted in my mind. I cannot wait to read the rest of this new trilogy!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2002

    give in to your imagination

    Terry Brooks is as good as it gets in fantasy. It had been about 9 years since i had read Brooks before I picked up the isle witch. I was looking for some thing to get my imagination that i had a youth rejuvinated, and turned back to the author that had taken for one journey after another as a kid. To my amazement, I think I actually enjoy his tales of magic and adventure more now than I did when I was a kid. I highely recommend this book for any one that wants to jump out of the doldrums of reality and leap out into a world where any thing is possible.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2002

    Another masterpiece from JRR Brooks

    After being destroyed by the ungodly Lord of the rings movie (having read all 4 books 26 times) I ran for something new to clean the bad taste out of my mouth. I decided to re-live the early Shannara books I read several years ago but that was re-hash. Then I found the voyage trilogy & thank heavens for it. Brooks has matured in his writing, having been a bit of a tease with his early books with 4 or 5 stories going at once, dont get me wrong, they were good but extremely aggravating to read. This one put that old habit to rest with a story that grabs you from chapter one & runs your emotions on a freight train that just wont let you put it down. I literally ran to the book store to get part two & almost cried when I couldnt get #3 for a month. Great characters & plot twists that will make you go WOW. If you are a Tolkein fan who is just dying for something new I highly recommend all of Brooks books, if you are thinking of starting this one without reading the others I have one thing to say...DONT, its like reading the Lord of the Rings without reading the Hobbit first.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2002

    outdone himself again

    I am a big fan of terry brook iam 15. I think ilse witch is one of the best shannara books ever.The charecters are so 3 demensional my favorite is bek he wonders what his purpose is on the vayage but he finds out secretes about himself and startes to learn to exept them. My second favorite is ilse witch she does not seem as bad as some vilens in other shannara books.I think shes just been mislead before the book said grianna and bek were brother and sister i noticed alot of simalaritys like they both have a huge temper you dont see it as much in bek as you do in grianna but bek can certainly get mad do i have to remind you bek and walkers many argumement after walker told bek the truth. well this was a great book cant wait to read antrax.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2002

    Brenden & Michelle Eden. AWSOME BOOK!

    This is an awsome add on to the shannara series. Terry Brooks brings back his writing skills in this book. You can't put this book down and the knock-out ending will make you read the next book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2002

    Another outstanding novel by Terry Brooks

    A few years ago I had come upon the Shannara series and from then on I have been deeply immersed and enchanted by the world Terry Brooks had given us. To my astonishment I ended up buying all the books in the Shannara series, The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara: Isle Witch included. Quickly in a matter of days, I had finished reading the series. Terry Brook's skill and his imagination had created a world so fascinating I couldn't put the Isle Witch down 'til I finished it. Once again he has woven a spell upon his readers encasing them in the enchanting confines of his story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2002

    A Good Book

    I love Terry Brook's writing but when I found this book in paperback and found that the story was continued in the second book, I was very upset. I had to buy the second book in hardcover just to continue the story. The story will suck you in and not let go and the 3rd book is not out yet so beware if you start this series

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2002

    Terry Brooks rules

    This was a great read and the action and tension starts from the first chapter. You feel as though you know the characters from the moment you enter their world and you are with them every step of their journey. Terry Brooks continues were he left off with the last adventure and leaves you wanting so much more. Waiting patiently for the next installment of the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara #2 Antrax.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2002

    Perhaps TB's best work!

    Voyage is perhaps the best book I've read by this author and that's saying a lot considering how many other books there are. So now we head off into the Blue Divide and discover airships and other wonders that we had never know existed in Shannara. Wonderful!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2002

    First Time reader of Terry Brooks' work

    This book was captivating. I never read his books' before. My mom loves him. I decided to try with this one and see how good he is. It was great, he caught my interest from the beginning and held it til the end. I look foward to reading #2. Just tried to get in paperback(only available in hardcover) but the book is so good i just can't wait so I bought the hard cover. Can't wait to get so I can begin the quest where it has left off.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2002

    The BEST I read thus far!

    I enjoyed the suspence, and action in this book. The characters were very interesting, developed well and had me trying to figure out the rolls they would play further on in the book. I never wanted to put the book down. I finished this one in 3 days and I cant wait to get the paper back of Anthrax to continue the series.

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