ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR FANTASY TALES OF ALL TIME. NOW AN EPIC TV SERIES.
Thousands of years after the destruction of the age of man an d science, new races and magic now rule the world, but an imminent danger threatens. A horde of evil Demons is beginning to escape and bring death upon the land. Only Wil Ohmsford, the last of the Shannara bloodline, has the power to guard the Elven Princess Amberle on a perilous quest to the save the world, while the leader of the Demon force aims to stop their mission at any cost.
Praise for Terry Brooks
“Shannara was one of my favorite fictional worlds growing up, and I look forward to many return trips.”—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!
“If Tolkien is the grandfather of modern fantasy, Terry Brooks is its favorite uncle.”—Peter V. Brett, author of The Skull Throne
“A great storyteller, Terry Brooks creates rich epics filled with mystery, magic, and memorable characters.”—Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon
About the Author
Terry Brooks has thrilled readers for decades with his powers of imagination and storytelling. He is the author of more than thirty books, most of which have been New York Times bestsellers. He lives with his wife, Judine, in the Pacific Northwest.
Hometown:Pacific Northwest and Hawaii
Date of Birth:January 8, 1944
Place of Birth:Sterling, Illinois
Education:B.A. in English, Hamilton College, 1966; J.D., Washington and Lee University
Read an Excerpt
The night sky brightened faintly in the east with the approach of dawn as the Chosen entered the
Gardens of Life. Without, the Elven city of Arborlon lay sleeping, its people still wrapped in the warmth and solitude of their beds. But for the Chosen, the day had already begun. Their trailing white robes billowing slightly with a rush of summer wind, they passed between the sentries of the Black Watch, who stood rigid and aloof as such sentries had stood for centuries gone before the arched, wrought-iron gateway inlaid with silver scroll and ivory chips.
They passed quickly, and only their soft voices and the crunch of their sandaled feet on the gravel pathway disturbed the silence of the new day as they slipped into the pine-shadowed dark beyond.
The Chosen were the caretakers of the Ellcrys, the strange and wondrous tree that stood at the center of the Gardensthe tree, as the legends told, that served as protector against a primordial evil that had very nearly destroyed the Elves centuries ago, an evil that had been shut away from the earth since before the dawn of the old race of Men. In all the time that had followed, there had been Chosen to care for the
Ellcrys. Theirs was a tradition handed down through generations of
Elves, a tradition of service that the Elves regarded as both a coveted honor and a solemn duty.
Yet there was little evidence of solemnity in the procession that passed through the Gardens this morning. Two hundred and thirty days of the year of their service had gone by, and youthful spirits could no longer be easily subdued. The first sense of awe at the responsibility given them had long since passed, and the Chosen of the Elves were now just six young men on their way to perform a task they had performed each day since the time of their choosing, a task grown old and familiarthe greeting of the tree at the first touch of sunrise.
Only Lauren, youngest of this year's Chosen, was silent. He lagged a bit behind the others as they walked, taking no part in their idle chatter. His red head was bent in concentration, and there was a deep frown on his face. So wrapped up in his thoughts was he that he was not aware when the noise ahead ceased, nor of the steps that fell back beside him, until a hand touched his arm. Then his troubled face jerked up abruptly to find Jase regarding him.
"What's the matter, Lauren? Are you sick?" Jase asked. Because he was a few months older than the rest, Jase was the accepted leader of the Chosen.
Lauren shook his head, but the frown did not leave his face entirely.
"I'm all right."
"Something is bothering you. You've been brooding all morning.
Come to think of it, you were rather quiet last night, too."
Jase's hand on his shoulder brought the younger Elf about to face him. "Come on, out with it. Nobody expects you to serve if you're not feeling well."
Lauren hesitated, then sighed and nodded, "All right. It's the
Ellcrys. Yesterday, at sunset, just before we left her, I thought I saw some spotting on her leaves. It looked like wilt."
"Wilt? Are you sure? Nothing like that ever happens to the
Ellcrysat least that's what wea've always been told," Jase said doubtfully.
"I could have been mistaken," Lauren admitted. "It was getting dark. I told myself then that it was probably just the way the shadows lay on the leaves. But the more I try to remember how it looked, the more I think it really was wilt."
There was a disconcerted muttering from the others, and one of them spoke. "This is Amberle's fault. I said before that something bad would come from having a girl picked as a Chosen."
"There were other girls among the Chosen, and nothing happened because of it," Lauren protested. He had always liked Amberle. She had been easy to talk to, even if she was King Eventine Elessedila's granddaughter.
"Not for five hundred years, Lauren," the other said.
"All right, that's enough," Jase interrupted. "We agreed not to talk about Amberle. You know that." He stood silently for a moment, pondering what Lauren had said. Then he shrugged. "It would be unfortunate if anything happened to the tree, especially while she was under our care. But after all, nothing lasts forever."
Lauren was shocked. "But Jase, when the tree weakens, the Forbidding will end and the Demons within will be freed . . ."
"Do you really believe those old stories, Lauren?" Jase laughed.
Lauren stared at the older Elf. "How can you be a Chosen and not believe?"
"I don't remember being asked what I believed when I was chosen,
Lauren. Were you asked?"
Lauren shook his head. Candidates for the honor of being Chosen were never asked anything. They were simply brought before the treeyoung
Elves who had crossed over into manhood and womanhood in the prior year.
At the dawn of the new year, they gathered to pass beneath her limbs,
each pausing momentarily for acceptance. Those the tree touched upon the shoulders became the new Chosen, to serve until the year was done.
Lauren could still remember the mix of ecstasy and pride he had felt at the moment a slender branch had bent to touch him and he'd heard her speak his name.
And he remembered, too, the astonishment of all when Amberle had been called . . .
"It's just a tale to frighten children," Jase was saying.
"The real function of the Ellcrys is to serve as a reminder to the
Elven people that they, like her, survive despite all the changes that have taken place in the history of the Four Lands. She is a symbol of our people's strength, Laurennothing more."
He motioned for them all to resume their walk into the Gardens and turned away. Lauren lapsed back into thought. The older Elf's casual disregard for the legend of the tree disturbed him. Of course
Jase was from the city, and Lauren had observed that the people of
Arborlon seemed to take the old beliefs less seriously than did those of the little northern village from which he came. But the story of the
Ellcrys and the Forbidding wasn't just a storyit was the foundation of everything that was truly Elven, the most important event in the history of his people.
It had all taken place long ago, before the birth of the new world.
There had been a great war between good and evil""a war that the Elves had finally won by creating the Ellcrys and a Forbidding that had banished the evil Demons into a timeless dark. And so long as the
Ellcrys was kept well, so long would the evil be locked from the land.
So long as the Ellcrys was kept well . . .
He shook his head doubtfully. Maybe the wilt was but a trick of his imagination. Or a trick of the light. And if not, they would simply have to find a cure. There was always a cure.
Moments later, he stood with the others before the tree. Hesitantly, he looked up, then sighed in relief. It appeared as if the Ellcrys was unchanged. Perfectly formed, her silver-white trunk arched skyward in a symmetrically balanced network of tapered limbs clustered with broad,
five-cornered leaves that were blood-red in color. At her base, strips of green moss grew in patchwork runners through the cracks and crevices of the smooth-skinned bark, like emerald streams flowing down a mountain hillside. There were no splits to mar the trunk's even lines, no branches cracked or broken. So beautiful, he thought. He looked again,
but could see no signs of the sickness he had feared.
The others went to gather the tools they would use in the feeding and grooming of the tree and in the general upkeep of the Gardens. But Jase held Lauren back. "Would you like to greet her today, Lauren?" he asked.
Lauren stammered his surprised thanks. Jase was giving up his turn for the most special of tasks, obviously in an effort to cheer him.
He stepped forward under the spreading branches to lay his hands upon the smooth-skinned trunk, the others gathering about a few paces back to recite the morning greeting. He glanced upward expectantly, searching for the first beam of sunlight that would fall upon her form.
Then abruptly he drew back. The leaves directly above him were dark with patches of wilt. His heart fell. There was spotting elsewhere as well,
scattered throughout the tree. It was not a trick of light and shadow.
It was real.
He motioned frantically for Jase, then pointed as the other came forward. As was their custom at this time, they did not speak, but Jase gasped as he saw the extent of the damage already done. Slowly the two walked around the tree, discovering spots everywhere, some barely visible, others already darkening the leaves so badly that their blood-red color seemed drained away.
Whatever his professed beliefs concerning the tree, Jase was badly shaken, and his face reflected his dismay as he went back to confer in whispers with the others. Lauren moved to join them, but Jase quickly shook his head, motioning to the top of the tree, where the dawn's light had almost reached the uppermost branches.
Lauren knew his duty and he turned back again to the tree. Whatever else was to happen, the Chosen must greet the Ellcrys this day as they had greeted her each day since the beginning of their Order.
He placed his hands gently on the silver bark and the words of greeting were forming on his lips when a slender branch from the ancient tree dipped slightly to brush his shoulder.
The young Elf jumped at the sound of his name. But no one had spoken.
The sound had been in his mind, the voice little more than an image of his own face.
It was the Ellcrys!
He caught his breath, twisting his head to glimpse briefly the branch that rested on his shoulder before turning quickly back again. Confusion swept through him. Only once before had she spoken to himon the day of his choosing. She had spoken his name then; she had spoken all their names. It had been the last time. She had never spoken to any of them after that. Neverexcept to Amberle, of course, and Amberle was no longer one of them.
He looked hurriedly at the others. They were staring at him, curious as to why he had stopped. Then the branch that rested upon his shoulder slipped down to wrap about him loosely, and he flinched involuntarily with its touch.
Lauren. Call the Chosen to me
The images appeared quickly and were gone. Hesitantly Lauren beckoned to his comrades. They came forward, questions forming on their lips as they stared upward at the silver-limbed tree. Branches lowered to clasp each,
and the voice of the Ellcrys whispered softly.
Hear me. Remember what I tell you. Do not fail me
A chill swept over them, and the Gardens of Life were shrouded in deep,
hollow silence, as if in all the world only they were alive. Images filled their minds, flowing one after the other in rapid succession.
There was horror contained in those images. Had they been able, the
Chosen would have turned away, to flee and hide until the nightmare that possessed them had passed and been forgotten. But the tree held them fast, and the images continued to flow and the horror to mount, until they felt they could stand no more.
Then at last it was finished, and the Ellcrys was silent once more, her limbs lifting from their shoulders and stretching wide to catch the warmth of the morning sun.
Lauren stood frozen, tears streaming down his cheeks. Shattered, the six
Chosen faced one another, and in each mind the truth whispered soundlessly.
The legend was not legend. The legend was life. Evil did indeed lie beyond a Forbidding that the Ellcrys maintained. Only she kept the Elven people safe.
And now she was dying.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read The Shannara series as a teenager looking for something similar to The Lord of the Rings. The series was amazing! But this book is my all time favorite!!! Its a beautifully written story...you won't be able to put it down...
The sequel to Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara, Elfstones is a far superior work. It tells the story of the grandson of Shea Ohmsford, hero of the first novel, and his efforts to help a young elf girl save the world while a few brave men try to hold off demonic forces to save the elven kingdom As a teenager, I figured out about half way through the novel what “saving the world” meant in this book and I read with growing horror as I discovered that I was correct. It’s a very powerful story. Elfstone is a fast moving, action packed novel filled with wonderful characters: The Iron Man, Stee Jans remains one of my favorite heroes of all time; The Rover woman, Etria, one of the strongest characters in the book, whose only flaw is that for some incomprehensible reason, she likes Wil Ohmsford; and the introspective Prince Ander, who finds the weight of a kingdom on the shoulders he is quite certain are not ready. This is my favorite of the Shannara books. It’s definitely worth your time.
Finally I have found a sequel that measures up to original! I haven't finished yet, but am SOOOOOO excited to read it. Whether or not you liked the original has nothing to do with it. This book's awesome!
Excellent book. This series got me interested in reading the sci-fantasy genre books. A whole new world was just waiting for me to discover. What an amazing journey!
This sequel to the Sword Of Shannara, tells a brilliant tale of the elves battling evil, with Wil Ohmsford and his magic stones seeking the seed and the 'Blood Fire' which will protect the land from the evil Demons. Read again, brilliantly, by Charles Keating, this magical tale has a terrific story line, great characters, and a thrilling ending. Worthy of listening to or reading. I look forward to the third part of the tale: The Wishsong Of Shannara.
I thought this was one of the best books out of the Shannara series. The story moved along well and it wasn't too predictable.
In the last 20 years, my nightstand has had a love-affair with every Terry Brooks book. I have personally read every book of his, multiple times. I've read the Elfstones at least 5 times. Elfstones is an incredible book... Probably one of my favorite he's ever written. The story line is smooth, you never loose where you are. The antagonists are formidable, key players aren't spared, and the climax is almost a Shakespearian tragedy.
I you liked Lord of the Rings but are looking for something new to read this is a good substitute The setting, characters and story will seem familiar to those who enjoy the fantasy genre. Obviously not as good as LOTR but Elfstones will keep you entertained from cover to cover.
I've read most of Terry's Shannara novels at least twice and some of them still keep me on the edge of my seat. I have yet to read (and buy) the Word/Void Trilogy, but that doesn't stop me from re-reading the Shannara series. This is a must have if you plan to continue returning to the land of Shannara. Happy Reading! :)
Better than Sword of Shannara, faster paced and a bit less repetitive. Much more fun to read. I loved this one, nasty demons, courageous elves, you can¿t go wrong. Old skool fantasy at its best.There are a lot of similarities to Sword, which I know wind a lot of people up..bringing forth nasty murmurs about forumlae etc, and a lot of the comparisons to Tolkien are very unkind. Ignore the Tolkien thing, yes in a lot of ways you can almost feel Brooks trying¿and failing¿but so many others do it too, and what the hell, if you¿re going to aim for something aim high, if you don¿t get there you¿re still higher up there than if you hadn¿t made the effort I reckon.It¿s a fast, fun, fantasy read. Nothing too intricate or challenging, but hey, that¿s the best bit sometimes.
In the second book of the series, this series really takes off. The characters and story are compelling, and the heroic defense of the Elven lands makes for fascinating reading. Whether or not you like the first book, this one is wonderful and stands on its own.
Great addition to a great series.
This was a wonderfuly thrilling book. It is about a tree that is dieing, but its not just a tree, its the Ellcrys. It is the key to existance for the Elves because it keeps traps the demons that threaton the land everywhere in the Forbidding. So Wil Ohmsford must take the Elven girl Amberle and a seed of the Elcrys to Bloodfire so that there may be a rebirth of the Elcrys.I liked this book because it was crammed full of adventure, and there were many cliffhangers. Everytime you put it down, it keeps nagging at your brain until you read it again. Over all it is a great book!
Terry Brooks is a great fantasy writer, but he takes his time to build up a head of steam in a story. Explaining all the characters, their relationships and the history takes him about 100 pages each time. Once you're past that, his books are a gripping yarn.
I loved this book, it was sad and wonderful at the same time. The characters were great, as always and easy to connect to.
The tv series has encouraged me to read the series again for the third or fourth time
A lot like Tolkin, but an easy read and characters are endearing
The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks In Arborlon, capital of the Elves' kingdom, the Ellcrys - the tree that protected against the evils of the world for millennia - is dying. The Chosen, who cared for the tree have been murdered. The Demons who were imprisoned inside the tree have escaped and are creating havoc. Lead by Dagda Mor with his minions Reaper and Shapeshifter, the evil is assembling hungry to destroy those that imprisoned them for centuries. Only Amberle, granddaughter of Eventine Elssedil, the Elf King and herself a chosen, can save them. Wil Ohmsford, a human elf, is charged by the Druid, Allanon, with escorting Amberle on her quest to carry the Ellcrys' seed to the Bloodfire. Wil knew his grandfather's Elfstones are the source of a great magic that have been used to save the four worlds before. As they travel together throughout the realm, both Wil and Amberle discover their true purpose in life. I became interested in the book after watching the Shannaran Chronicles on MTV. I was not prepared for what I encountered. The book is much better than the TV show. Narrated from an universal point of view, Mr. Brooks creates a world of fantasy that can compared to Tolkien's Lord of The Rings. Brooks painstakingly narrates every little aspect of the magic of the four races: Men, Elves, Trolls and Dwarves. We learn of the history of the worlds, from the time of the Great Wars, The War of the Races, and the creation of the Ellcrys - the prison of the defeated Demons. I thought this is one of the best books I've ever read. Loved the metaphor of how men had damaged the world - climate change, nuclear holocaust - and how the Elf race that has existed forever to take care of the world. "The Elves believe that they owe a debt to the land, for the land is the creator and provider for all life. The Elves believe that when one takes from the land, one must give something back in return. This belief is traditional; it is a ritual." This is one of those books that should be read by everyone!
I GUESS I EXPECTED SOMETHING TO HAPPEN! * I decided to review this book because I reviewed the first of this continuing saga. To this day I'm not sure what forced me to read it, as it was even more boring than its predecessor. In a nutshell, nothing ever happens but a long winded romp through the woods and occasional--very occasional--battles with evil. And here is the biggest problem with this book. The hero is one dimensional, lacking of personality, inept, and rarely ever does anything worth remembering. Yet somehow he always manages to overcome the evil pitted against him. The evil characters, on the other hand, are terribly cliche, overwhelmingly powerful to the point that they could never be beaten except by the use of serious hand of god tricks--yet are always thwarted or defeated outright. To conclude, the only suitable description for the outcome of this epic is A Trite Blend of Underwhelming and Anticlimactic Balderdash. Once again, however, I am glad that Terry succeed with this effort, along with his many others, because mine is only one opinion, and apparently not all that popular to boot. Furthermore, I still like to believe that someone, somewhere, should help to support the writers of our world, even when they're not amazing.
One of Brook's best