I have been a fan of Terry Brooks and the various Shannara books for 20 years, anxiously awaiting each new series in the ongoing tale. However, I must admit the last trilogy, The Voyage of the Jerele Shannara (TVotJS), was not up to par with the high expectations I have for Terry Brooks writings. While the trilogy did have new settings and characters I thought that many of the story plots and themes had been written about before and just redressed for this trilogy. I awaited the release of the High Druid of Shannara (THDoS) series with caution.
Just a few days ago my wife purchased the first book on THDoS series for me JARKA RUUS (JR) and I found that Brooks had recaptured what I originally so liked about the Shannara series. In this book Brooks brings back some familiar people and places. Several characters from the TVotJS have returned. Most importantly Grianne Ohmsford, the former Ilse Witch, in her current role as Ard Rhys the current leader of the third druid council. Grianne Ohmsford was one of my favorite characters from the TVotJS and I think she makes a great druid, much better than Walker Boh.
Aside from the characters and magic that marks all his books this series has a great story, just as good as THE FIRST KING OF SHANNARA (TFKoS) and right behind THE ELFSTONES OF SHANNARA (TEoS). I have always like TEoS and there are strong links to TEoS in JR. If you have read TEoS and enjoyed reading about the different demons and wondered just what the Forbidding that held them back was about then this story will answer a lot of those questions. Also, the Warlock Lord makes a cameo appearance of sorts in this book. The only thing I did not care for in this book was the abrupt ending. I know its part of a series but I feel that each book in a series should have some kind of closure or resolve at least for some of the minor sub-plots. Not this book!! It actually increases the suspense and then ends abruptly leaving the reader somewhat upset at being left to dangle for an entire year.
Lastly, Brooks seems to be back on the right track with the Shannara series. I can not wait until summer 2004 to pick up TANEQUIL and continue with this great story.
This book is a smooth read. The next generation along with some of the previous generation make great traveling companions. Lots of action as well as magical beings. This book is a spectacular start for the new series. It's a more colorful story and even better written than the previous series. After just coming from reading Terry Goodkind's new story (Naked Empire), what a breath of fresh air. It's a fantastic feeling when you can look forward to the next book in a great series!