Customer Reviews of Straken
Great Finish to Another Shannara Series
This was the best out of the three High Druid Series (at least I thought). Mr Brooks certainly knows how to keep the story going. He did a wonderful job moving from one story to another throughout the book. Sometimes when a book has four or more different adventures moving at the same time, we (as readers) might loose interest on certain adventures. However, I was eager to read everyone's little adventure. Each character was well developed and you can understand why they were acting as they did. Grianne was definitely my favorite character. Also, I liked the overall happy ending. Lately, I have been reading books with open or unhappy endings (Thanks to Grisham and Connelly). I really like the way Mr Brooks writes fast-pace, to-the-point stories. Sometimes, it is a daunting task to read some of the fantasy books, such as Goodkind and Jordan's (over 800 pages). Don't get me wrong, I don't mind reading those thick books (currently, reading George Martin's 'A Storm of Swords'). With that said, would I have enjoyed a big battle between the Straken Lord and Grianne? Probably/Maybe, but not enough to say I did not like the book or feel cheated. As a series, I liked the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy better, but this series was not too far behind. However, `Straken' had plenty of actions and imagination to match any of the voyage series books or any other fantasy books and be rated Five Stars for me. I hope this helped!!!
Good Ending for a Good Series
Good ending to a good series. Terry Brooks comes through again.
A Thrilling Conclusion to Another Great Brooks Series
Straken brings an end to the "High Druid" series, and what an ending it turned out to be! Pen Ohmsford has managed to acquire the darkwand from the Tanequel which will enable him to pass over into the Forbidding to rescue his entrapped aunt Grianne Ohmsford, Ard Rhys of the druid order. However, some of Shadea's minions hve followed Pen and his group and he's been captured and imprisoned in Paranor.
Khyber Elessedil, the young Elven druid, has managed to steal aboard one of the druid's airships and managed to free Pen from his cell. Meanwhile, Pen's parents Bek and Rue are also imprisoned in Paranor, but they are also set free by two druids still loyal to Grianne. Bek and Rue fly off in search of Pen, while Pen and Khyber begin their journey through the depths of Paranor searching for Shadea's sleeping chamber in order to gain him entrance into the Forbidding. Finally, Pen is able to cross over, and after some encounters with a host of strange creatures, he finally locates his aunt.
Meanwhile, the battle between the Federation soldiers and the elves continues to rage. Led by Pied, the elven Captain, the elves have managed to defeat a much larger Federation force. But the Federation still possesses its deadly weapon of fire, which could destroy the whole elven army.
Also, a demon from the Forbidding has been released into the Four Lands. Crossing over when Grianne was sent into the Forbidding, it is intent on destroying the Ellcrys, the ancient elven tree that holds up the wall of the Forbidding. But the demon possess the power to take on any form it chooses, making it that much harder to track.
Pen and Rue have enlisted the help of Kermadec and the rest of the rock trolls, and they have planned an assult on Paranor. However, Shadea, Pyson Wence, and Traunt Rowan have set a trap to capture both Pen and Grianne when they return from the Forbidding. Will Shadea succeed with her plan to trap Pen and Grianne? Will Bek, Rue, and the Rock Trolls arrive in time to stop Shadea? What will become of the demon?
I've been a Terry Brooks fan since reading the Sword of Shannara, and I've read every book since. I have to rate this series as one of his best. Watching Grianne's struggle to maintain order among the druids has been one of the high points of the series. Although I was a little disappointed with the way this book ended, it by no means detracts from the overall excellence of the book. I'm anxious to see what Terry will write about next. As for this book, I give it my highest recommendation. It is loaded with action and characters that the reader can really become attached to. Read this great book and see the final climax of a tremendous series.
High Fantasy done RIGHT. Nice ending to great series.
Do I agree with some of the reviewers who say that Straken and indeed much of this latest series isn't as original as it used to be? Yeah, I would say that. However, with that aside, Terry Brooks HAS managed to inject as much originality into a series that has been ongoing since 1977 as is possible. As usual, I still find myself as eager now for his next novel as I was in High School waiting for The Wishsong to come out. I am as many are, looking forward to a break from Shannara to see what else is bouncing around in his ingeniously creative mind. I have hear LOTS of rumors, but after interviewing him for myself, I think that I will keep some of it quiet to allow the surprise to be that much bigger and enjoyable.
Back to the book, though. Straken has a wonderful finality to it which was lacking with the end of Morgawr a few years back. The whole idea of being trapped INSIDE the Forbidding is easily one of, if not THE most creative aspect of almost all the Shannara stories since perhaps when Brooks introduced us to it originally back with Elfstones. Knowing what to do and then being ABLE to pull it off are never quite the same with any novel set in the world of Shannara. As is also the case with Straken. Pen Ohmsford in his attempts to help rescue his aunt, the former Ilse Witch, banned to the Forbidding by the use of dark magic runs into many, MANY roadblocks along the way...the least of which includes evil menions of the false Ard Rhys trying to capture and kill him...watching friends die...and finding love. Once Pen secures what he needs in order to help his aunt, he runs into you guessed it: even more problems. That's okay. Never fear, the outcome is never really in doubt. The journey to find the resolution to this particular problem isn't just fun, but for me, it seemed more loaded with action and fantasy-charged testosterone than I have read from Brooks in a long time. We get to see what a SEAL team would be like Shannara-style, and it was a real high point in the entire series. You can definitely see additional depth to the writing skills of Mr. Brooks and fantastic character development as he continues his love of penning great stories.
One last thought: I am a life-long fan of Terry Brooks. He has earned my loyalty by writing great stuff again and again. Moreover, after meeting him personally, he is easily the most down-to-earth kind and thoughtful author I have ever met. At a book signing, it doesn't matter HOW many people are in line behind you, he treats each person as though they are the ONLY person there and doesn't put a limit to how many questions you can ask...even if it means he'll be there into the wee hours. He certainly hasn't forgotten where he came from and WHY he is successful in the first place: his READERS. You can say what you want about the guy, but I will ALWAYS be first in line to buy his books just as long as he continues to write them. He always makes me feel as though my money was well spent...and when it comes down to it, isn't that all that matters?
The Straken Queen Returns
Straken (2005) is the third novel in the High Druid of Shannara trilogy, following Tanequil. In the previous volume, Grianne Ohmsford, Ard Rhys of the Third Druid Order, is locked into a cell beneath Kraal Reach in The Forbidding; her only chance of getting out lies in the hands of the treacherous Weka Dart. Penderrin Ohmsford has obtained the darkwand at the cost of two fingers, but his parents are captives within Panador.
In this novel, Pen travels back from the Tanequil to the bridge, only to find that his friends have been captured by Gnome Hunters. The Druid leaders, Truant Rowan and Pyson Wence, try to talk him into surrendering and Pen agrees provided that his companions are released without harm. After all, he still has to get back to Panador with the darkwand.
Khyber Elessedil hides on another of the ships returning to Panador. She wears a Gnome Hunter cloak and forages through the ship only at night. She is seen once, but distracts the Gnome and glides away before he can identify her.
Grianne makes an agreement to take Weka Dart back to her world if some way can be found. He releases her and removes the conjure collar from her neck. They slip away through the tunnels beneath Kraal Reach. The journey is interrupted only once, but she uses the wishsong magic to destroy a Graumth chasing them; she is frightened more by the strength and insistence of the magic than by the Graumth.
Bek Ohmsford and Rue Meridan escape from their cells with the aid of Trefen Morys, a young Druid faithful to the Ard Rhys. They sneak through Druid's Keep to the courtyard where the Swiftsure is moored. Trefen's companion Bellizen has prepared the airship for launching, but first the escapees must pass through the deadly arrows and bolts shot by Gnomes on the outer walls.
Pied Sanderling rallies the Elves after the fire launcher destroys their airships and kills the King and his sons. Driven from their fortifications, the survivors withdraw into the hills. There Pied sets up an ambush and defeats the Federation pursuers. Then he leads his Elves east to the enclave held by Varden Wick and his Free-Born troops.
Sen Dunsidan, ambitious Prime Minister of the Federation, is being advised by the Moric, a demon wearing the skin of an Elven Druid, Irida Eleri. But Sen refuses all suggestions to directly attack the Elven capital and destroy the Ellcrys, which are maintaining The Forbidding; the destruction of these trees would allow the demons to return to the Four Kingdoms. Moric is beginning to think of abandoning its current guise.
Shadea a'Ru comes to believe that all her henchmen are failing in their responsibilities. She is surrounded by shirkers and losers. If she wants it done right, she must do it herself!
This novel is the final volume in this trilogy. Grianne and Shadea a'Ru have similar experiences with untrustworthy subordinates, but Shadea seems incapable of learning anything from her failures. Grianne, however, shows her ability to adapt by changing the Druid Order.
This series ends in a rather muddled way. However, it leaves plenty of room for another sequence, which may answer some of the outstanding questions. The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy ended in much the same open-ended manner, so look forward to more volumes in this series.
Highly recommended for Brooks fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of high adventure and subtle magic.
-Arthur W. Jordin