Armageddon’s Children (The Genesis of Shannara, Book 1)
Written by: Terry Brooks
Published by: Del Rey
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”no” align=”left” asin=”034548410X” cloaking=”default” height=”500″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51tVDeyG3UL.jpg” tag=”buzmag-20″ width=”304″]Fantasy novels come in two types: The generic elves and faerie faire, and the long, ponderous epic. “The Genesis of Shennara” is definitely the latter. It’s not just the intricate storytelling of author Terry Brooks, or the three-dimensional, complex characters. There is a sense of larger themes playing out here. This is a story of three disparate peoples interconnected by their battle against an unspeakable evil. Once again, as in many similar tales the fate of humankind and indeed the universe rests in a handful of men and women. But behind the doomsday scenarios and back stories there is an urgent, familiar tone that gives pause and causes goose bumps to proliferate down the spine.
Set in a near future, the urban fantasy novel surrounds three main characters. Logan Tom, a seasoned survivalist of a nuked out, poisoned America. Hawk, the leader of a group of street kids in Seattle. And Angel Peretz, a freedom fighter doing her best to rescue humans who have been enslaved by demons. All are orphans and survivors of a string of wars and terrorist attacks organized by a mysterious evil force known only as the Void, and all are members of the Knights of the Word, a rebel group dedicated to defeating the evil force. When they discover (independently of each other, of course) that a demon known as the Old Man has been dispatched to kill them, they race against time to stop him and the source of the madness before it engulfs them all.
Demons aside, the grittiness of the novel and the decision to locate it in an all too real, post-post 9/11 America gives it a certain ring of authenticity that other similar novels lack. It doesn’t hurt that the characters are richly developed, with histories and quirks of their own. Yes, there are strong male characters to be found, just as there are strong female characters (Angel is one of many.). But their strength isn’t grounded solely in magic. Despite their supernatural powers, they are still humans, after all with all the pathos that implies.
As with any epic, there are downsides. The plot tends to meander about. So much of the book is padded with back stories and flashbacks that it is hard to get into the action once Brooks cuts away from them. Then, out of nowhere faeries pop up (Faeries? In post apocalyptic America? Oh, really?). By the time the focus is back on Hawk, Angel, and Tom they are as ephemeral as the ghosts they’re running from. I have no problem with elves or faeries, but it would have been nice if Brooks had chosen to stick to the three main characters instead. Not to say that he is a bad author. He’s gotten nearly 22 novels under his belt since he first started writing in the late 70s, but it feels as though he’s bitten off a bit more than he can chew. There isn’t a need to try to be the next J.R.R. Tolkein, we’ll settle for a compelling storyline, thank you very much.
That said, Genesis of Shannara is an engaging novel. Far more than most urban fantasy novels out there. Those with strong constitutions (and stronger cups of coffee) won’t mind spending their days and nights curling up to this one. Otherwise, consider this a skim-worthy read.
by John Winn – Staff WriterTerry Brooks Interview With Buzzy Mag
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