Wards of Faerie, by Terry Brooks [Dark Legacy of Shannara #1]

  • TITLE: Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shannara #1)
  • AUTHOR: Terry Brooks
  • PUBLISHER: Orbit
  • PUBLICATION DATE: 1st August 2012
  • RATING: ★★
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Cover shown is the US cover (pub. Del Rey) since the UK one has a ruddy great red sticker worked into the design of the book that’s tacky and detracts from the fairly decent cover.

That it’s taken me more than three weeks to review this gives a little insight into my experience with the book. It’s not that this is a bad book, it’s not. It just feels pointless. It’s always bizarre, reading a book by such a legend of fantasy, and then not feeling it. It makes me wonder what it is that I’m missing… and then I go and read new fantasy authors and definitely feel it and wonder if it’s not in fact me, and just that the writer and I don’t see eye-to-eye with what we want from a book. I don’t know.

There’s nothing here in this book that grips me. I received Bloodfire Quest via NetGalley whilst the book was still an ARC, with plenty of time to read Wards of Faerie and then jump straight into the sequel well within the release date.

Seems that didn’t work out quite as planned. It took me a while to chew through the first book of the Dark Legacy of Shannara and by the time I had finished… I just couldn’t bring myself to jump straight into the ARC. It’s not an ARC anymore, but I will get around to reading and reviewing it and hopefully it will feel like an improvement on this.

I was so frustrated by this book and felt so let down that I wanted to spam this review with an arsenal of bored and frustrated gifs…but that’s just rude, so no.

But for now… Wards of Faerie.

Aphenglow, a Druid of her order, discovers a lost diary that might reveal the Elfstones that have been lost for centuries. It would be a great magical discovery that would restore the dwindling faith in magic versus technology.

A quest is undertaken and companions are gathered.

On the other side, Drust is a freshly appointed politician. He has designs on remaining in power, but also using his new-found resources to take down the Druid order.

The quest seems unreasonable and unbelievable. I’m not convinced by the Ard Rhys’ decision to undertake the journey that the story centres on. Surely this is a problem? I, as the reader, feel as though I’m calling hippogriff shit.

There is no urgency, and bar a handful of characters, the cast is dull and merely there to serve a purpose.

Maybe it only seems this way because I’m a Shannara virgin. I don’t know if these characters have appeared previously. If they have I see them as underdeveloped and ordinary. If not, they need much more work to appear real and interesting. That I’m unfamiliar with Shannara is irrelevant: Wards of Faerie is a new story. It should be welcoming and it isn’t.

I am a great fan of fantasy, but even more so, I’m a fan of neoclassical fantasy. Brooks had an opportunity to present the generic “quest” story template and change it to make it fresher – more neoclassical. I don’t think he did. It’s a pity and the book suffered for it.

My brother says he can almost predict the rating of a book by how much I talk about the book whilst reading (generally just random comments of “this book is awesome”, or *sigh* *longer sigh* “….”) and he called that this would be a fairly meh review. He was right.

It’s hard to say anything good about this book, yet there’s nothing to actually slate. But if it was that meh, why did I stick with it?

Well, because I began the book intrigued and very interested with the personal story arcs of the likeable  characters. There was a lot of promise and I wanted it to become the epic quest I thought it might. I kept waiting, chapter by chapter, hoping for something brilliant to happen. Nothing ever does.

The book seems to just plod along, and even the lure of half-elven twins (I love Elves and I love twins) couldn’t really keep me interested.

There is nothing exciting about Wards of Faerie. It feels riddled with predictability and plot devices. I was disappointed.

This is my first Brooks and I was expecting good things. Instead I feel I was offered a plate of clichés with a side of This Character Sucks. There was nothing magical, nothing sweeping about the concept or immersion – things that, for me, are imperative for epic fantasy.

Everything about this book seemed subpar, but not bad enough to reward a one-star review. There was nothing I hated, nothing to viciously complain about, and nothing majorly wrong.

It just wasn’t very good. Like I said, it plods along, seemingly heedless of the supposed urgency and gravity of what they’re doing. Slow writing and no tension. It simply plods along.  A very frustrating book that left me wanting to toss it aside and not really bother with Brooks’ back list.

Awkward, dull and contributes absolutely nothing new to the fantasy genre despite the slightly new setting and approach. A frustrating read.

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