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For reasons known only to himself, the King of the Silver River has charged ...
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For reasons known only to himself, the King of the Silver River has charged young Penderrin Ohmsford, barely more than a boy, with the daunting task of rescuing his aunt, Grianne, Ard Rhys of the Druid order, from her forced exile in the terrifying dimension of all things damned: the Forbidding. With the noble dwarf Tagwen and the prodigal elven princess Khyber Elessedil by his side -- and with the outcome of the bloody war between the Federation and the Free-born at stake -- Pen has accepted his mission without question. But not without risk . . . or sacrifice.
Because Shadea a’Ru, the ruthless Druid responsible for imprisoning the true Ard Rhys and usurping leadership at Paranor, has sent her agents and assassins in relentless pursuit of Pen and his comrades. And in securing the talisman he needs to breach the Forbidding, Pen has paid a devastating price. Now if the Free-born forces -- already decimated by the Federation’s death-dealing new weapon -- should fall, Shadea’s domination of the Four Lands will be assured. Nothing short of Pen’s success can turn the tide.
But Pen’s challenge grows greater when he learns that his parents, Bek Ohmsford and Rue Meridian, have fallen into Shadea’s hands. He must try to help them -- but once within the walls of Druid’s Keep, where Shadea’s minions and dark magic lurk at every turn, Pen’s survival is far from assured. Yet it will all pale in comparison to the horrors that wait inside the Forbidding -- horrors poised to break free upon the Four Lands when the time is right. . . .
Praise for Terry Brooks
"A great storyteller, Terry Brooks creates rich epics filled with mystery, magic, and memorable characters. If you haven’t read Terry Brooks, you haven’t read fantasy." -- Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon
"Terry’s place is at the head of the fantasy world." -- Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass
“A great storyteller, Terry Brooks creates rich epics filled with mystery, magic, and memorable characters. If you haven’t read Terry Brooks, you haven’t read fantasy.”
–Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon
“Terry’s place is at the head of the fantasy world.”
–Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass
From the Hardcover edition.
Pen Ohmsford!" the black-cloaked figure called out to him from across the chasm that separated the island of the tanequil from the rest of the world. "We have been waiting for you!"
A male Druid. He came forward a few steps, pulling back his hood to reveal the strong, dark features of his face. Pen had never seen him before.
"Come across the bridge so that we can talk," the Druid said.
The firelight threw his shadow across the stone archway in a dark stain that spilled into the chasm, and the connection was unmistakable. Pen wished he hadn't rushed into the light so quickly, that he had been more careful. But he had thought himself past the worst of it. He had survived his encounter with the tanequil and received the gift of the darkwand, the talisman that would give him access into the Forbidding. He had lost two fingers in doing so, but he had come to believe that this was a small price to pay. Losing Cinnaminson was a much larger price, but he had accepted that there was nothing he could do about it until after his aunt was safely returned, promising himself he would try to come back for her then. Finally, he had escaped the monster that had pursued them all the way from Anatcherae and knew it to be dead at last, pulled down into the chasm and crushed.
But now this.
His fingers tightened possessively around the darkwand, and he scanned the faces of the captive Trolls. All there, he saw. No one missing. No one even appeared hurt. They must have been caught completely by surprise not to have put up any fight. He wondered vaguely how that could have happened, how the Druids had found them at all, for that matter, but he guessed it was a pointless exercise.
A few of the Trolls were looking up now, Kermadec among them. The anger and disappointment in his eyes were unmistakable. He had failed Pen. They all had. The boy saw Tagwen there as well, almost hidden behind the massive bodies of his companions.
There was no sign of Khyber. "Cross the bridge, Pen," the Druid repeated, not unkindly. "Don't make this any harder on yourself."
"I think I should stay where I am," Pen answered.
The Druid nodded, as if understanding him perfectly. "Well, you can do that, if you choose. I've read the warning on the stone facing of the bridge, and I know better than to try to come across after you." He paused. "Tell me. How did you manage to get over there without being harmed, if the danger is real?"
Pen said nothing.
"What are you doing here, anyway? Trying to help your aunt? Did you think you might find her here?"
Pen stared back at him silently.
"We have your friends. All of them. You can see for yourself. We have your parents, as well, locked away at Paranor." His voice was patient, calm. "It doesn't do you any good to stay over there when those you care about are all over here. You can't help them by refusing to face up to your responsibilities."
My responsibilities, Pen repeated silently. What would this man know of his responsibilities? What would he even care, save that he thought he could stop Pen from carrying them out?
A second Druid appeared beside the first, coming out of the darkness and into the light, this one slender and small, a ferret-faced Gnome of particularly cunning looks, his eyes shifting swiftly from the first Druid to Pen and then back again. He muttered something, and the first Druid gave him a quick, angry look.
"How do I know you aren't lying about my parents?" he asked suddenly, remembering that this wasn't the first time he had heard this claim, thinking that he still didn't want to believe it.
The first Druid turned back to him. "Well, you don't. I can tell you that they were flying in a ship called Swift Sure when we brought them into the Keep. They helped us to find you. Your father was worried about the disappearance of his sister, but more worried about you. That is how we found you, Pen."
The boy stared at him, gone cold to the bone. The explanation made perfect sense. His father would have aided them without realizing what he was doing, thinking it was the right thing, that they were as concerned about his aunt as he was. The King of the Silver River was supposed to have warned his parents of the Druids, but perhaps he had failed. If so, his father wouldn't have known of their treachery. How could he?
Pen brushed back his tangled red hair, trying to think what to do.
"Let me put this to you another way," the taller Druid went on, moving slightly in front of the other. "My companion is less patient than I am, although he isn't volunteering to come across the bridge either. But when morning comes, we will bring one of the airships across, and then we will have you, one way or the other. There are only so many places you can hide. This is all a big waste of time, given the way things eventually have to turn out."
Pen knew it was true. But his freedom, however temporary, was the only bargaining chip he possessed. "Will you set my friends free, if I agree to come over?"
The Druid nodded. "My word on it. All of them. We have no use for them beyond persuading you to come with us. Once you cross over, they are free to go."
"What about my parents?"
The Druid nodded. "Once you are back at Paranor, they can go, too. In fact, once you've told us what we want to know, what your purpose is in coming here, you can go, too."
He was lying. He made it sound believable, exuding just the right amount of sincerity and reasonableness through his choice of words and tone of voice, but Pen knew the truth of things at once. The Druid would have done better to tell him something less soothing, but he supposed the man saw him as a boy and thought he would respond better to a lie than to the truth.
He paused now to consider what he should do next. He had asked the questions that needed asking and gotten the answers he expected. It reconfirmed his suspicions about what would happen if he crossed the bridge to surrender to them. On the other hand, if he stayed where he was, they would capture him sooner or later, even if he went back down into the chasm, something he did not think he could do. Worse, he would be doing nothing to help his family and friends. If he were as concerned about responsibility as he liked to think, he would have to do more than go off and hide.
His decision was easier to make than he would have thought. He had to go to Paranor anyway if he was to use the darkwand to reach his aunt. Rescuing the Ard Rhys was what he had set out to do, and he couldn't do that if he didn't get inside the Druid's Keep. The Druids who had come for him were offering him a chance to do just that. He would have preferred going about it in a different way, but it all ended the same. The trick would be finding a way to keep the darkwand in his possession until he could get inside the chambers of the Ard Rhys.
He had no idea how he was going to do that.
"I want to speak with Tagwen," he called out. "Send him to the head of the bridge and move back so I can come across safely."
The Druids exchanged an uncertain glance. "When you surrender yourself, then we will let you talk with Tagwen," the taller one said.
Pen shook his head. "If you want me to surrender, you have to let me talk with Tagwen first. I want to hear from him what he thinks about your promises. I want to hear from him how good he thinks your word is. If you don't let me talk to him, I'm staying right here."
He watched their dark faces bend close and heard them confer in inaudible whispers. He could tell they didn't like the request and were trying to come up with a way to refuse it.
"If you think I will be so easy to find over here come morning, perhaps you should wait and try it and find out for yourselves," he said suddenly. "It might not be as easy as you think. That spider creature you sent to hunt me down? Or was it supposed to kill me? You did send it, didn't you?"
He asked the questions on impulse, not knowing how they would answer, but suspecting. He was not disappointed. Both Druids stared at him in surprise. The one who did all the talking folded his arms into his cloak. "We didn't send him. But we know who did. We thought he was dead, killed in the Slags."
Pen shook his head, his eyes shifting to Tagwen, who was watching him alertly now, knowing he was up to something, anxious to find out what it was. "He? Not it?" "Aphasia Wye. A man, but I grant you he looks more an insect than a human. Are you saying he isn't dead? Where is he?"
"No, he's dead. But he didn't die in the Slags. He tracked us all the way here. Last night, he crossed the bridge. Like you want to do. Except that he found a way. Then he found me, but something else, too, and it killed him. If you want to see what that something is, fly your airship on over. I'll wait for you."
It was a bluff, but it was a bluff worth trying. Aphasia Wye was a predator of the first order - they might be hesitant to go up against something that had dispatched him. It cast Pen in a different light, giving him a more dangerous aspect, since he was alive and his hunter wasn't. He had to make them stop and think if it was worth it to refuse his request.
The taller Druid finished conferring with his companion and looked over. "All right, Pen. We'll let you speak with Tagwen. But no tricks, please. Anything that suggests you are acting in bad faith will put your Troll friends and your parents at risk. Don't test our limits. Have your talk, and then do what you know you have to do and surrender yourself to us."
Pen didn't know if he would do that or not, but it would help if he could talk to Tagwen about it first. He watched the Dwarf rise on the taller Druid's command and walk to the head of the bridge. He watched the Druids move back, signaling for the Gnome Hunters to do the same. Pen waited until the area in front of the bridge was clear of everyone but the Dwarf, then stepped out onto the stone arch and walked across. He used the darkwand like a walking staff, leaning on it as if he were injured, pretending at its purpose. Maybe they would let him keep it if they thought he had need of it to walk. Maybe pigs would learn to fly. He kept his eyes open for any unexpected movement, for shadows that didn't belong or sounds that were out of place. He used his small magic to test for warnings that might alert him to dangers he couldn't see. But nothing revealed itself. He crossed unimpeded, captives and captors staying back behind the fire, deeper into the gardens, away from the ravine's edge.
When he was at the far side, he dropped down into a crouch, using the bridge abutments as shelter. He didn't think they intended to kill him, but he couldn't be certain.
Tagwen moved close. "They caught us with our pants down, young Pen. We thought we were watching out for you, but we were looking too hard in the wrong direction." His bluff face wrinkled with distaste. They had us under spear and arrow before we could mount a defense. Anything we might have done would have gotten us all killed. I'm sorry."
Pen put his hand on the Dwarf's stout shoulder. "You did the best you could, Tagwen. We've all done the best we could."
"Perhaps." He didn't sound convinced. His eyes searched the boy's face. "Are you all right? Were you telling the truth about that thing that was tracking us? Was it really over there with you? I thought we'd lost it once and for all when we entered the mountains. Is it finally dead?"
Pen nodded. "The tanequil killed it. It's a long story. But anything that crosses this bridge is in real danger. I'm alive because of this."
He nodded down at the darkwand, which was resting next to him on the bridge, flat against the stone, tucked into the shadows.
The Dwarf peered at it, then caught sight of Pen's damaged hand and looked up again quickly. "What happened to your fingers?"
"The tree took them in exchange for the staff. Blood for sap, flesh for bark, bones for wood. It was necessary. Don't think on it."
"Don't think on it?" Tagwen was appalled. He glanced quickly over Pen's shoulder into the darkness of the tanequil's island. "Where is Cinnaminson?"
Pen hesitated. "Staying behind. Safe, for now. Tagwen, listen to me. I have to do what they want. I have to go with them to Paranor."
Tagwen stared. "No, Penderrin. You won't come out of there alive. They don't intend to let you go. Nor your parents, either. You're being taken to Shadea a'Ru. She's behind what's happened to the Ard Rhys, and once she's questioned you about what you are doing and you tell her - which you will, make no mistake - you and your parents are finished. Don't doubt me on this."
Pen nodded. "I don't, Tagwen. But look at how things stand. We're trapped here, all of us. Even without the Druids to deal with, we're stranded in these ruins, surrounded by Urdas. I have to get out if I'm to help my aunt, and the quicker the better. It's already been too long. If I don't get to Paranor and use the darkwand soon, it will be too late. And now I have a way. The Druids will take me. The Druids will get me there faster than I could get there on my own. I know it's dangerous. I know what they intend for me. And for my parents. But I have to risk it.
"You're risking too much!" the Dwarf snapped. "You'll get there quick enough, all right. And then what? They won't let you into the chambers of the Ard Rhys. They won't let you make use of that talisman. Shadea will see you for the threat you are and do away with you before you have a chance to do anything!"
"Maybe. Maybe not." He looked off into the gardens, into the pale, shifting patterns of color and the dappled shadows cast by the Druids and Gnome Hunters in the firelight's glow. "In any case, it's the only choice that makes sense." He turned back to Tagwen. If I agree to go with them, will that tall Druid keep his word and let you go? Is his word any good? Is he any better than the rest of them?"
Tagwen thought about it a moment. "Traunt Rowan. He's not as bad as the other one, Pyson Wence, and certainly not as bad as Shadea. But he joined them in the plot against your aunt." He shook his head. "She always thought he was principled, if misguided in his antipathy towards her. He might keep his word."
Pen nodded. "I'll have to chance it."
The Dwarf reached for him with both strong hands and gripped his shoulders. "Don't do this, young Penderrin," he whispered.
Pen held his gaze.
Excerpted from Straken by Terry Brooks Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted September 19, 2005
This was a good book but there were some parts that could have been left out. I don't want to ruin it for you but there are a couple parts at the end that are pointless and completely ruin the point of the whole section of the series. You may like it but I thought it kind of ruined the point of the story. I admit there were some good parts and some funny parts but I'm still mad about the end. I still do recommend this book because overall it is good and it has a great plot.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 29, 2013
I have not read a book that Terry Brooks has written that wasn't great. He just has a knack with writing in such a way that you feel you are there. He makes his characters just come alive and you are on the edge of your seat. I couldn't put the book down, in fact, I was forced to put the book down because my eyes got blurry.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 11, 2013
Posted August 19, 2012
The first time I read this third installment of the high druid of shannara trilogy i didn't care for it very much. I thought the good guys had it too easy, like the old cliche of having to slip past the one inept guard to escape lock up.
However, I have re-read this story getting up-to-date on this story line in anticipation of Terry's next novel coming out tuesday and gained a new respect for the story and just how much Khyber Elessedil and the others have to go through just to help Pen Ohmsford and his aunt Grianne Ohmsford. Khyber is the new head of the druid council in the upcoming book and I look forward to reading more about her. As usual, Terry weaves a magical tale of suspense in a wonderful world with memorable characters.
Posted October 16, 2011
Posted September 28, 2011
Straken is a great book (obviously by the title). It had a beautiful and poetic ending. That may make it sound cheesy, but the rest of the book was really good. The only problem I see with this book is that Pied Sanderling really didn't have anything to do with the rest of the story. But The Moric was awesome. I'll tell ya, The Moric was one of the best pieces of the story. I highly recommend this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 28, 2007
I first discovered Terry Brooks in 1978, when 'The Sword of Shannara' came out in paperback '$2.50!'. Does he rip off Tolkien? Of course. Then again, so do most other fantasy authors. Nevertheless, he writes one hell of a novel, with great characters, and I look forward to each new novel that comes out. 'Straken' was no exception. Keep on writing, Mr. Brooks! You liven up a slow, rainy day 'or any day I have a chance to pick up a book', as well as, or better than, many other authors. May the Ohmsford line live on!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 8, 2007
Posted May 18, 2006
I have been following the Shannara novels for quite some time now, and have come to one conclusion: Terry Brooks has never failed to deliver a good book. I have read some negative feedback on this particular trilogy, and couldn't disagree more. As a novelist, Brooks has three outstanding strengths: his descriptions of environments, his detailed ability to put convincing and gripping action in to print, and a decided mastery at fleshing out the deeper psychology of his characters. All three are at their best in 'The High Druid of Shannara,' and culminates in Straken to make a very moving conclusion. I, for one, was completely caught off guard at the end, and have not been so in quite a long time! Terry Brooks is at the present my most respected fantasy novelist, and I highly recommend this book and the others he's written to other fantasy readers. Brooks is at the top of his game, and I for one can't wait to see what he creates next!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 23, 2006
I first picked up Straken because I love the author. I was hesitant to start it because I had felt the frist two books had been lacking qualities I wanted to have in a book. As I finished chapter one I had completly forgave Brooks. Though it get slow in a few parts that didnt make it anyless exiting. All in all it was a good book but it could have been better. Sertain parts towards the end seemed hurried but the very end made up for them.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 6, 2005
This book was a great ending for the High Druid series. This book unlike some of his other books was more unpredictable, especially at the end. It left me wanting more. When I finished the book I felt bittersweet. In some ways I was happy and sad. Overall the book was a excellent addition to the Shannara series and i'm eager for more.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 18, 2005
What a wonderful way to end this trilogy. I was surprised at the ending, but after thinking about it, I think it had to happen that way for everyone to have peace. I can't wait to read Terry Brook's next addition to Shannara.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 13, 2005
I enjoyed the book very much. I was rather dissappointed about how certain things were resolved and I felt I was left hanging on a few 'storylines'. But overall, I was still 'pulled' into each chapter, not wanting to stop reading until I was finished with the book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 16, 2005
Straken is a much anticipated book, but comes up a little short. The ease with which Grianne escapes the Forbidding without a fight, the ease Shadea a Rue is defeated, and the ease the demon is destroyed before it even gets close to the Ellcrys is out of character for Terry Brooks novels. Much too short for a climatic ending to the Shannara series.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 14, 2005
Posted December 9, 2008
Grianne Ohmsford, the Ard Rhys of the Third Druid Order, was never fully trusted because of the harm she did to others as the llse witch. Certain druids led by Shadea with the aid of the Prime Minister of the Federation trapped her in The Forbidden, a dark, dangerous evil place where the dark beings of Faerie were sent eons ago. Shadea is now the new Ard Rhys and rules through fear and terror making the Druid keep of Paranor a very unpleasant place to live and learn the craft What Shadea doesn¿t know is that a demon sorcerer, Tael Riverine, in the Forbidding influenced Shadea because when one is sent to that evil place, a being is allowed into the real world. The shapeshifting demon is influencing events in the real world so that the wall of the Forbidding will come down allowing the evil creatures penned up inside to enter the Druid realm and turn it into another Forbidding. Grianne¿s nephew knows he must bring his beloved aunt home from the Forbidden, but has no idea how to find the demon. --- STRAKEN, the last book in the latest Shannara trilogy is a fantastic, compelling and thoroughly enjoyable sword & sorcery book. One of Terry Brooks greatest gifts as an author is to create characters that are realistic and believable in settings that enable the audience to suspend reality. Grianne is his greatest creation, a character who demonstrates that redemption is always possible if one wants it enough. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 19, 2012
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Posted April 24, 2009
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Posted April 27, 2012
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