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Jarka Ruus
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Jarka Ruus, the first episode of High Druid of Shannara, opens 20 years after the end of Brooks's last trilogy, Voyage of the Jerle Shannara. Grianne Ohmsford, previously the Ilse Witch and now Ard Rhys and High Druid of Paranor, falls prey to a spell of the Druid Council of Paranor, which banishes her to Jarka Ruus, land of the outcasts. Her loyal assistant, Tagwen, seeks help and flees Paranor only a step ahead of the agents of the traitorous Druids. Instead of Grianne's capable and battle-wise brother, Tagwen has to make do with her nephew, young Pen Ohmsford, and a couple of elves, including Khyber, daughter of the Elf King. While Pen and his companions struggle to evade the Druids long enough to rescue Grianne, the Ard Rhys is struggling just to stay alive. Classic epic fantasy, this latest offering from Brooks includes appealing characters, an exotic setting, and a fast-moving plot with good infusions of suspense. It is unnecessary to have listened to the previous works to enjoy this one, but the book ends with a cliffhanger that will leave you waiting for the next segment of this three-part novel. Scott Brick's reading enhances this high-quality recording; recommended for any audio collection that includes sf and fantasy.AJanet Martin, FirstHealth of the Carolinas, Pinehurst, NC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Bestseller Brooks's first book in a new trilogy treads complacently along the well-worn path of its predecessors. Set 20 years after the conclusion (in 2002's Morgawr) of the three-volume Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, it introduces the next generation of Ohmsfords and Elessedils: Penderrin, airship-flying nephew of former Ilse Witch and now High Druid (or Ard Rhys) Grianne Ohmsford; and Khyber, the Elven Prince Ahren Elessedil's headstrong niece. Teenaged protagonists can be annoyingly clumsy, and these two are no exception. As they set out to rescue Grianne from her politically motivated imprisonment in a bleak parallel plane known only as the Forbidding, they manage to repeatedly draw the attention of their pursuers, fall inopportunely in love and even kill a member of their own party. That neither Pen nor Khyber has the mitigating talents or charm of earlier Shannara heroes leads to the inevitable question of why exactly Fate has decreed that they should be the ones to take on this quest in the first place; a hope of learning the answer, ironically, may be the most compelling reason to anticipate the sequels. While Pen's fear that his family's magic is "thinning out" may parallel real-world criticisms of the most recent Shannara tales, Brooks does know a lot about the proper care and feeding of golden geese. Jaded readers are likely to seek their thrills elsewhere, but fans of formula fantasy will be quite content with the smooth prose, vivid descriptions and comfortable pacing. (Sept. 1) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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