Straken is the final book in the High Druid of Shannara trilogy, concluding the events of Jarka Ruus and Tanequil. As the third book in a trilogy, this harkens back to The Wishsong of Shannara, the last book in The Sword of Shannara trilogy. There are various groups of characters meeting and leaving, all while a war is raging and other battles are waged for the betterment of all in a good-versus-evil trope.
Will Pen be able to save his aunt, the former Ard Rhys of the Druids? Will the war on the Prekkendoran ever end? What will become of the Elessedil now that their lineage is not as strong? And how will Pen’s parents factor into another Ohmsford quest from the King of the Silver River?
Straken is a solid end to this trilogy with plenty of high points, but it’s very much more of the same, and that’s fine with me. The Shannara series has been like candy – too much of it may not be good for you. I, however, have spread out my reading of the series, so when I do pick up a book, I’m excited to do so.
What’s more is that author Terry Brooks really knows what he’s doing now. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he was confused early on, but this book really has a few winks and nods to the series as a whole, moreso than any other.
Two very real instances are the following quotes:
- “History was repeating itself, another instance of a similarity in the lives of the Ohmsfords, and more particularly in the lives of a father and son.”
- “Once again, he was being asked to do something without being told exactly how he was supposed to do it.”
The Ohmsfords have been at the forefront of these tales since the beginning, and it’s often father and son, though not always. Perhaps, then, the first quote is Brooks’ acknowledging that he’s created a magic patrilineality a few times throughout the series.
The second quote is all about the nature of magical creatures, Druids notwithstanding, within the story. As it relates to our heroes, whether they’re Ohmsfords or not, they are always told what they must accomplish, but the how and why of it all is often left out. In fact, the how is often left up to the chosen hero, who is out of their depth to begin with.
This was anything but a stagnant read. It was entertaining. It was like the latter season of a long-running television show that you enjoy. The characters may surprise you, but you generally know where it’s going and how it’s going to happen. Having started with the original trilogy, now 13 books ago, I have to tell you it was a journey worth taking. I didn’t read all 13 in a row, and I’ve definitely spread out the experience, which may be why I enjoyed them so much.
Going back into the Four Lands as an established location and world that Terry Brooks created and invited me into, time and time again, made it feel more like a visit. It was comfortable. Of course there are demons and bad guys and good people and Druids and heroes – it’s a fantasy series! Like so many others, it’s one that is worth visiting from time to time.