The Measure of the Magic: Legends of Shannara

( 140 )


For five hundred years, the survivors of the Great Wars lived peacefully in a valley sanctuary shielded by powerful magic from the dangerous outside world. But the enchanted barriers have crumbled, and the threat of annihilation looms large once more. As he lay dying, Sider Ament, bearer of the last black staff and protector of the valley, gave stewardship of the powerful talisman to the young Tracker Panterra ...

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The Measure of the Magic: Legends of Shannara

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For five hundred years, the survivors of the Great Wars lived peacefully in a valley sanctuary shielded by powerful magic from the dangerous outside world. But the enchanted barriers have crumbled, and the threat of annihilation looms large once more. As he lay dying, Sider Ament, bearer of the last black staff and protector of the valley, gave stewardship of the powerful talisman to the young Tracker Panterra Qu. Now the newly anointed Knight of the Word must take up the battle against evil wherever it threatens: from without, where an army of bloodthirsty Trolls is massing for invasion; and from within, where the Elf king of Arborlon has been murdered, his daughter stands accused, and a heinous conspiracy is poised to subjugate the kingdom. But even these affairs will pale beside the most harrowing menace Panterra is destined to confront—a nameless, merciless agent of darkness on a relentless mission: to claim the last black staff . . . and the life of whoever wields it.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Only one black staff remains. The powerful talisman serves as the last protection of the survivors of The Great Wars, but it is useless until its keeper has learned to master its magic. The new keeper is a young Tracker who must struggle with this daunting new responsibility. A new standalone Shannara novel that is destined for our bestseller lists.

From the Publisher
“Immensely entertaining . . . a page-turner full of action and magic.”—Bookreporter
“Classic Terry Brooks . . . infused with details of Shannara’s legends.”—Fantasy Faction
“[Brooks is] the most important fantasy writer since J.R.R. Tolkien.”—Rocky Mountain News
“Foolproof for fantasy lovers.”—Library Journal
Library Journal
In Bearers of the Black Staff, which takes place 500 years after the "Genesis of Shannara" series, the magic that has kept survivors of the Great Wars safe in their remote mountain sanctuary has finally failed. In this second and concluding volume of the series, two fledgling magic-wielders had better prove their worth, or thousands will die. Foolproof for fantasy lovers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345484222
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/31/2012
  • Series: Legends of Shannara Duology Series, #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 162,128
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Brooks
Terry Brooks published his first novel, The Sword of Shannara, in 1977. It was a New York Times bestseller for more than six months. He has published twenty-five New York Times bestsellers since. Two of those--the novels Running with the Demon and A Knight of the Word--were chosen by the Rocky Mountain News (Denver) as among the best fantasy novels of the twentieth century. A practicing lawyer until his third book was published, Brooks now writes full-time. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Judine.


"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

Humming tunelessly, the ragpicker walked the barren, empty wasteland in the aftermath of the rainstorm.  The skies were still dark with clouds and the earth was sodden and slick with surface water, but none of that mattered to him.  Others might prefer the sun and blue skies and the feel of hard, dry earth beneath their feet.  Others might revel in the brightness and the warmth.  But life was created in the darkness and damp of the womb, and the ragpicker took considerable comfort in knowing that procreation was instinctual and needed nothing of the face of nature’s disposition that he liked the least.

He was an odd looking fellow, an unprepossessing, almost comical tatterdemalion.  He was tall and whipcord thin, and he walked like one of those of those long-legged water birds.  Dressed in dark clothes that had seen much better days, he tended to blend in nicely with the mostly colorless landscape he traveled.  He carried his rags and scraps of cloth in a frayed patchwork bag slung over one shoulder, the bag bursting at the seams with its load, looking very much as if it would rip apart completely with each fresh step its bearer took.  A pair of scuffed leather boots completed the ensemble, scavenged from a dead man some years back, but still holding up quite nicely.

Everything about the ragpicker suggested that he was harmless.  Everything marked him as easy prey in a world where predators dominated the remnants of a decimated population.  He knew how he looked to the things that were always hunting.  He knew what they thought when they saw him coming.  But that was all right.  He didn’t mind.  He had stayed alive this long by keeping his head down and staying out of harm’s way.  People like him, they didn’t get noticed.  The trick was in not doing anything to call attention to yourself.

So he tried hard to give the clear and unmistakable impression that he was nothing but a poor wanderer who wanted to be left alone, but you didn’t always get what you wanted in this world.  Even now, other eyes were already sizing him up.  He could feel them doing so, several pairs in several different places.  But those eyes that belonged to the animals – the things that the poisons and chemicals had turned into mutants – were already turning away.  Their instincts were sharper, more finely tuned, and they could sense when something wasn’t right.  Given the choice, they would almost always back away.

It was the eyes of the human freaks that stayed fixed on him, eyes that lacked the necessary awareness to judge him properly.  These were the predators that seldom sensed the danger and so almost never turned away.  Two were studying him now, deciding whether or not to confront him.  He sighed.  He would try to avoid them, of course.  He would try to make himself seem not worth the trouble.  But, again, you didn’t always get what you wanted.

He breathed in the cool, damp air, absorbing the taste of the rain’s aftermath on his tongue, of the stirring of stagnation and sickness generated by the pounding of the sudden rain, of the smells of raw earth and decay, the whole of it marvelously welcome.  Sometimes, when he was alone, he could pretend he was the only one left in the world.  He could pretend that what remained of the world was his and his alone.  He could think of it all as his private preserve, his special place, and imagine that he was all that was left and everything belonged to him.

He could pretend that nothing would ever bother him again.

His humming dropped away, changing to a little song:
Ragpicker, ragpicker, what you gonna do.
When the hunters are hunting and they’re for hunting you.
Ragpicker, ragpicker, just stay low.
If you don’t draw attention they might let you go.

He hummed a few more bars, wondering if he had gotten past the predators.  He was thinking it was almost time to stop and have something to drink and eat.  But that would have to wait.  He sighed, his lean, sharp-featured face wreathed in a tight smile that caused the muscles of his jaw to stand out like cords.
Ragpicker, ragpicker, you’re all alone.
The hunters that are hunting want to pick your bones.
Ragpicker, ragpicker, just walk on.
If you wait them out they will soon be gone.

He crossed a meadow, a small stream filled with muddy water, a rocky flat in which tiny purple flowers were blooming and a withered woods in which a handful of poplars grew sparse and separate as if strangers to each other.  Ahead, there was movement in a rugged mass of boulders that formed the threshold to foothills leading up to the next chain of mountains, a high and wild and dominant presence.  He registered the movement, ignored it.  Those who had been watching him were still there and growing restless; he must skirt their hiding place and hope they were distracted by other possibilities.  But there didn’t appear to be anyone else out here other than himself, and he was afraid that they would come after him just because they were bored.
He continued on furtively, still humming softly.

Daylight leached away as the clouds began to thicken anew.  It might actually rain some more, he decided.  He glanced at the skies in all four directions, noting the movement of the clouds and the shifting of their shadows against the earth.  Yes, more rain coming.  Better that he find shelter soon.

He stalked up the slope into the rocks, his long thin legs stretching out, meandering here and there as if searching for the best way through, trying to move away from the watchers, trying to pretend he was heedless of them, that he knew nothing of them and they, in turn, should not want to bother with him.

But, suddenly, his worst fears were realized and just like that they were upon him.

They came out of the rocks, having moved from their previous hiding place, two shaggy-haired, ragged men, one large and one small, both carrying blades and clubs.  One was blind in one eye and the other limped badly.  They had seen hard times, the ragpicker thought, and they would not be likely to have seen much charity and therefore not much inclined to dispense any.  He stood where he was and waited on them patiently, knowing that flight was useless.

“You,” one-eye said, pointing a knife at him.  “What you got in that bag of yours?”

The ragpicker shrugged.  “Rags.  I collect them and barter for food and drink.  It’s what I do.”

“You got something more than that, I’d guess,” the second man, the larger of the two, the limper, said.  “Better show us what you got.”

The ragpicker hesitated, and then dumped everything on the ground, his entire collection of brightly colored scarves and bits of cloth, a few whole pieces of shirts and coats, a hat or two, some boots.  Everything he had managed to find in his travels of late that he hadn’t bargained away with the Trolls or such.

“That’s crap!” snarled one eye, thrusting his knife at the ragpicker, nearly pricking him with the tip.  “You got to do better than that!  You got to give us something of worth!”

“You got coin?” demanded the other.

Hopeless, the ragpicker thought.  No one had coin anymore and even if they did it was valueless.  Gold or silver, maybe.  A good weapon, especially one of the old automatics from the days of the Great Wars, would have meant something, would have been barter material.  But no one had coins.

“Don’t have any,” he said, backing away a step.  “Can I pick up my rags?”

One-eye stepped forward and ground the colored cloth into the ground with the heel of his boot.  “That’s what I think of your rags.  Now watch and see what I’m gonna do to you!”

The ragpicker backed away another step.  “Please, I don’t have anything to give you.  I just want you to let me pass.  I’m not worth your trouble.  Really.”

“You ain’t worth much, that’s for sure,” said the one who limped.  “But that don’t mean you get to go through here free.  This is our territory and no one passes without they make some payment to us!”

The two men came forward again, a step at a time, spreading out just a little to hem the ragpicker in, to keep him from making an attempt to get around them.  As if such a thing were possible, the ragpicker thought, given his age and condition and clear lack of athletic ability.  Did he look like he could get past them if he tried?  Did he look as if he could do anything?

“I don’t think this is a good idea,” he said suddenly, stopping short in his retreat.

“You might not fully understand what it is that you are doing.”

The predators stopped and stared at him, not quite believing what they were hearing.  “You don’t think it’s a good idea?” said the one that limped.  “Is that what you said, you skinny old rat?”

The ragpicker shook his head.  “It always comes down to this.  I don’t understand it.  Let me ask you something.  Do you know of a man who carries a black staff?”

The two exchanged a quick look.  “Who is he?” asked one-eye.  “Why would we know him?”

The ragpicker sighed.  “I don’t know that you do.  Probably you don’t.  But he would be someone who had real coin on him, should you know where to find him.  You don’t, do you?”

“Naw, don’t know anyone like that,” snarled one-eye.  He glanced at his companion.

“C’mon, let’s see what he’s hiding in that sack.”

They came at the ragpicker with their blades held ready, stuffing the clubs in their belts.  They were hunched forward slightly in preparation for getting past whatever defenses the scarecrow intended to offer, the blades held out in front of them.  The ragpicker stood his ground, no longer backing up, no longer looking as if he intended to try to escape.  In fact, he didn’t look quite the same man at all.  The change was subtle and hard to identify, but it was evident that something was different about him.  It was in his eyes as much as anywhere, in a gleam of madness that was bright and certain.  But it was in his stance, as well.  Before, he had looked like a frightened victim, someone who knew that he stood no chance at all against men like these.  Now, he had the appearance of someone who had taken control of matters in spite of his apparent inability to do so, and his two attackers didn’t like it.

But that didn’t stop them, of course.  Men of this sort were never stopped by what they couldn’t understand, only by what was bigger and stronger and better armed.  The ragpicker was none of these.  He was just an unlucky fool trying to be something he wasn’t, making a last ditch effort to hang onto his life.

One-eye struck first, his blade coming in low and swift towards the ragpicker’s belly.  The second man was only a step behind, striking out in a wild slash aimed at his victim’s exposed neck.  Neither blow reached its intended mark.  The ragpicker never seemed to move, but suddenly he had hold of both wrists, bony fingers locking on flesh and bone and squeezing until his attackers cried out in pain, dropped their weapons and sank to their knees in shock, struggling to break free.  But the ragpicker had no intention of releasing them.  He just held them where they were, on their knees before him, moaning and writhing, studying their agonized expressions.
“You shouldn’t make assumptions about people,” he lectured them, bending close enough that they could see the crimson glow in his eyes, a gleam of bloodlust and rage.  “You shouldn’t be like that.”

His hands tightened further, and smoke rose through his fingers where they gripped the men’s wrists.  Now the attackers were howling and screaming in agony as their imprisoned wrists and hands turned black and charred, burned from the inside out.
The ragpicker released them then and let them drop to the ground in huddled balls of quaking, blubbering despair, cradling their ruined arms, stricken by what had been done to them.

“You’ve ruined such a lovely day, too,” the ragpicker admonished.  “All I wanted was to be left alone to enjoy it, and now this.  You really are pigs of the worst sort, and pigs deserve to be roasted and eaten!”

They cried out anew at this and attempt to crawl away, but he was on them much too quickly, seizing their heads and holding them fast.  Smoke leaked from between his clutching fingers, rising from their heads in spiraling wisps, and the men jerked and writhed in response.

“How does that feel?” the ragpicker wanted to know.  “Can you tell what’s happening to you?  I’m cooking your brains, in case you’ve failed to recognize what you are experiencing.  Doesn’t feel very good, does it?”

It was a rhetorical question, which was just as well because neither man could manage any kind of intelligible answer.  All they could do was hang suspended from the ragpicker’s killing fingers until their brains were turned to mush and they were dead.
The ragpicker let them drop.  He thought about eating them, but the idea was too distasteful to consider seriously.  They were vermin, and he didn’t eat vermin.  So he stripped them of their clothing, taking small items for his collection, scraps of cloth from each man that would remind him later of who they had been, and left them for scavengers he knew would not be picky.  He gathered up his soiled rags from the earth into which they had been ground, brushed them off as best he could and returned them his carry bag.  When everything was in place, he gave the dead men a final glance and started off once more.
Bones of the dead left lying on the ground.
One more day and they will never be found.
Ragpicker, ragpicker, you never know
There are rags to be found wherever you go.

He sang it softly, repeated it a few times for emphasis, rearranging the words, and then went quiet.  An interesting diversion, but massively unproductive.  He had hoped the two creatures might have information about the man with the black staff, but they had disappointed him.  So he would have to continue the search without any useful information to aid him.  All he knew was what he sensed, and what he sensed would have to be enough for now.

The man he sought was somewhere close, probably somewhere up in those mountains he was walking towards.  So eventually he would find him.

The ragpicker allowed himself a small smile.  There was no hurry.  Time was something he had as much of as he needed.

Time didn’t really matter when you were a demon.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 140 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 142 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 21, 2011

    Great author

    Starting with "sword of shanara" all the way to this one. Great stories. I have read them all. Each story is unique and stands on its own. But to really enjoy the complete works of Mr. Brooks. Start at the begining with "sword of shanara" and read your way through. It all comes full circle.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2011

    Great Book

    The book was great, its a shame that Barnes & Noble's Customer service is horrible. After this you can unsubscribe me as this will be the last book that I buy from BN

    5 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2012

    $14 for a non- print copy?! I will wait for the $7 paperback

    Nuff said

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Nice wrap up to the series

    Entertaining and true to the storyline. Lots of depth to the characters. Exciting and not always predictable in the way you think. One of my favorite authors and series. Good bridge to closing out the old world and begining the world of Shannarah.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 14, 2012

    Another great book in the series from Terry Brooks!

    The Sword of Shanarra was one of the first fantasy books I every read. Since then Terry Brooks has, by far, been one of my favorite authors. This installment in the series does not disappoint. Can't wait for the next book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2012

    Great as usual!!!

    This was a great read! On par with most of Mr. Brooks' later books, it is full of adventure, magic, surprises, and heartache. The ending left more questions than his last trilogy, but it just makes me want to get into the next book in the series that much sooner. 8/21/12 cannot get here fast enough!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2015

    Per usual, a great Terry Brooks read!

    Terry Brooks continues to produce great stories, and the only baffling thing is why Hollywood hasn't snatched up some of his books to make into what would be really fantastic fantasy films. Yet. I believe that one day someone will get wise, and do just this, and this book, part of a 2-book series, will make yet another good story to incorporate into a movie series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2014

    The Measure of Magic

    Terry Brooks has once again written an amazing novel!! I love Terry Brooks and have been reading him for over 30 years at least. This story continues on with The Man with the Staff, only this time the entire valley is in trouble. You also find out more about the elusive Blue Elf Stones. Trouble is coming and so are big changes for the valley. This one is definitely another one of Terry's great stories. A good book that you read and cannot stop! Terry Brooks at his best!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2014

    Ok Read

    This was an ok read but far from the great work I have come to expect from Terry Brooks. The Bearer of the Black Staff and The Measure of the Magic read as if they were for YA readers. Not sorry I read them but will probably forget that I did.

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  • Posted August 30, 2013

    Great read

    This is a complex, continuously suspenseful legend interweaving magic and human interest. Hard to put down the books in this trilogy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2013


    Sticks his dicka in her passy

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2013

    I am a long time reader of Terry brooks books, I have possibly r

    I am a long time reader of Terry brooks books, I have possibly read all of them, this one as with so many others is most excellent. I read my first book, the Sword Of Shannara when I was at sea for six months in the navy in the early 80's and have been an ardent fan ever since.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2013

    My favorite author, read all his books, can't wait for the next.

    My favorite author, read all his books, can't wait for the next. My last name is Ament. It means "at the end"

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  • Posted November 27, 2012

    I just loved all the twists and turns in this book. All the magi

    I just loved all the twists and turns in this book. All the magic and fighting, plus how the details are so speciefic. Terry Brooks has just done another amazingly awesome book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2012

    great book

    I realy liked this book. It was hard to get inot at first but well worth it toward the end

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  • Posted June 8, 2012

    very good and intersting - you must check it out!!

    Terry Brooks does intersting boogs

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2012


    Terrys the best

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  • Posted March 1, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great story! Highly recommended!

    Terry Brooks does it again! I read everything by him and am never dissapointed!

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  • Posted February 20, 2012

    Great book, another home run by Terry Brooks.

    Very exceting, well written, keeps you wanting to read the whole book in one sitting. I recommend all the Shannara series books by Terry Brooks. All in all it is a wonderful story.

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  • Posted February 15, 2012

    Really enjoyed it!

    Terry Brooks is one of my very favorite writers. I always look forward to a new book from him, and this was no exception. Very enjoyable and it fleshed out some hitherto unknown aspects of this amazing world. When is the next one coming, Terry? I can't wait!

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