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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Terry Brooks -- whose first novel, The Sword of Shannara, became an instant bestseller upon its release in the late 1970s -- is the author of scads of popular fantasy novels. While the author's ongoing appeal is due to his quick-flowing prose, action-packed sequences, and colorful characters, he owes much of his success to his strict concordance with the "epic quest" model established by J.R.R. Tolkien 40 years earlier.
But give the man some credit -- Brooks writes a killer yarn. (He has millions of diehard fans to prove it.) And while his stories rely heavily on Tolkien-esque elements (such as arduous journeys, magic-wielding wizards, young protagonists who are always more than they appear, and, of course, the obligatory dark evil force), Brooks has a charm all his own, and he consistently keeps his readers guessing and wildly flipping the pages.
Brooks fans are certainly in for a treat with The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara: Antrax, the follow-up to the series kickoff, Voyage of Jerle Shannara: Ilse Witch. If you're unfamiliar with this particular story line, stop reading now and pick up Ilse Witch first -- it's a great deal of fun, even for those unfamiliar with Brooks's previous works. Antrax begins exactly where Ilse Witch lets off.
Some background: Ilse Witch tells of a potentially devastating magic that the forces of good and evil both desperately want to control. The good guys set off on an airship in an effort to find this magic; the bad guys are hot on their trail. At the conclusion of Ilse Witch, the young Bek Rowe learns that he is really Bek Ohmsford, a direct descendant to the fabled Elf King, Jerle Shannara. Because of his lineage, Bek possesses the powerful gift of the Wishsong and the sole ability to use the mythical Sword of Shannara. As if this weren't enough for the lad to digest, he also discovers that his team's deadly adversary, the Ilse Witch, is his sister.
In Antrax, the race continues as Bek, the Druid Walker Boh, Bek's cousin Quentin, a few talented Rover flyers, the seer Ryd Ord Star, a score of Elf hunters, and the thoroughly intriguing shape-shifter Truls Rohk battle not only the Ilse Witch but also a relentless army of technological monsters. Brooks devotees will be happy (although not surprised) to hear that Antrax provides a punch of pure adrenaline. It's high-quality, rapid-paced entertainment. (Andrew LeCount)