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Brooks' "Genesis of Shannara"

November 26, 2010 - Jodelle Greiner
Terry Brooks has been writing fantasy fiction for a few decades, starting with the original Shannara series back in the late 1970s. He’s written nearly two dozen books and revisits Shannara with his Genesis of Shannara trilogy: “Armageddon’s Children” (2006), “The Elves of Cintra” (2007) and “The Gypsy Morph” (2008).

I’ve had copies of “The Sword of Shannara”, “The Elfstones of Shannara” and “The Wishsong of Shannara” for years and when I saw “Genesis of Shannara: The Elves of Cintra” in a book store, I picked it up, thinking it was going to be like the original trilogy.

Since I like to read series in order, I picked up “Armageddon’s Children” at the library and set off on the adventure.

For those familiar with Brooks’ fantasies like Shannara, you might be in for a surprise. This doesn’t read like his earlier Shannara work, where you could lose yourself in faerie tales of magical heroes in a faraway land. “Genesis” adds a healthy mix of science fiction to the fantasy element and blends in more than a touch of social commentary. To me, this book read less like a fantasy novel and more like a horror movie, complete with monsters a hairsbreadth away. I kept thinking of the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson; Brooks’ tale is the grown-up version of what happens after the apocalypse. Brooks makes some very good points about how we should be taking much better care of our planet or we will pay a price and he has the imagination and writing ability to draw those dire pictures of what the world could look like in the not too distant future.

Those who know their Holy Bible will see religious parallels. There’s references to children’s stories about a boy leading his children to the Promised Land, a search for a special child destined to save mankind, and the uncertainty of that savior, who is part human and part magic with special abilities.

The Genesis of Shannara series stands on its own quite well, but for those who want more background on the story, read the Word & Void series, “Running with the Demon” (1997), “A Knight of the Word” (1998) and “Angel Fire East” (1999).

“Genesis” takes place in our future, sometime after the 2060s. The United States — in fact, the world — is a barren land, laid waste by nuclear attacks and environmental neglect that have changed the American bread basket into a desert. It doesn’t rain, plagues strike and kill with no warning, the air is so polluted it’s poisoning people and turning them into monsters. People stay alive by eating and drinking pre-packaged food stored for at least 30 years.

Bleak not only describes the landscape but the situation. This is not a place you would want to live.

Hope still lives in small pockets, helped along by Knights of the Word, who battle the demons of the Void. The demons attack humans, subverting and converting some, enslaving others and experimenting on children. The Knights try to keep the demons from attacking the compounds where the humans live, usually old sports stadiums, like Safeco Field and Anaheim Stadium. The Knights try to get the humans out before the attacks, or failing that, attack the slave camps and free them, hopefully before it’s too late.

The “Genesis of Shannara” Trilogy is one long, continuous story, following Logan Tom, a Knight of the Word from the Midwest; Angel Perez, a Knight of the Word from Los Angeles; Hawk, leader of a patchwork family of street kids in Seattle; and Kirisin Belloruus, an Elf from Cintra. They come from different parts of the country to find the gypsy morph, the one creature that can save what’s left of humans and Elves. Along the way, they will need to use all their special abilities and discover long-lost Elven magic before the world is totally destroyed.

If you want to spend a lot of time in a world that could be ours someday, try the “Genesis of Shannara” trilogy.


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