Ilse Witch (Voyage of the Jerle Shannara Series #1)

Ilse Witch (Voyage of the Jerle Shannara Series #1)

by Terry Brooks

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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Overview

When a half-drowned elf is found floating in the seas of the Blue Divide, an old mystery resurfaces. Thirty years ago, an elven prince led an expedition in search of a legendary magic said to be more powerful than any in the world. Of all those who set out on that ill-fated voyage, not one has ever returned. Until now. The rescued elf carries a map covered with mysterious symbols–and Walker Boh, the last of the Druids, has the skill to decipher them. But someone else understands the map’s significance: the Ilse Witch, a ruthless young woman who wields a magic as potent as his own. She will stop at nothing to possess the map–and the magic it leads to.

Thus begins the first volume of a dazzling new adventure in one of the most popular fantasy series of our time

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345396556
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/2001
Series: Voyage of the Jerle Shannara Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 152,126
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.89(h) x 1.21(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

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

Hunter Predd was patrolling the waters of the Blue Divide north of the island of Mesca Rho, a Wing Hove outpost at the western edge of Elven territorial waters, when he saw the man clinging to the spar. The man was draped over the length of wood as if a cloth doll, his head laid on the spar so that his face was barely out of the water, one arm wrapped loosely about his narrow float to keep him from sliding away. His skin was burned and ravaged from sun, wind, and weather, and his clothing was in tatters. He was so still it was impossible to tell if he was alive. It was the odd rolling movement of his body within the gentle swells, in fact, that first caught Hunter Predd’s eye.

Obsidian was already banking smoothly toward the castaway, not needing the touch of his master’s hands and knees to know what to do. His eyes sharper than those of the Elf, he had spotted the man in the water before Hunter and shifted course to effect a rescue. It was a large part of the work he was trained to do, locating and rescuing those whose ships had been lost at sea. The Roc could tell a man from a piece of wood or a fish a thousand yards away.

He swung around slowly, great wings stretched wide, dipping toward the surface and plucking the man from the waters with a sure and delicate touch. Great claws wrapped securely, but gently, about the limp form, the Roc lifted away again. Depthless and clear, the late spring sky spread away in a brilliant blue dome brightened by sunlight that infused the warm air and reflected in flashes of silver off the waves. Hunter Predd guided his mount back toward the closest piece of land available, a small atoll some miles from Mesca Rho. There he would see what, if anything, could be done.

They reached the atoll in less than half an hour, Hunter Predd keeping Obsidian low and steady in his flight the entire way. Black as ink and in the prime of his life, the Roc was his third as a Wing Rider and arguably the best. Besides being big and strong, Obsidian had excellent instincts and had learned to anticipate what Hunter wished of him before the Wing Rider had need to signal it. They had been together five years, not long for a Rider and his mount, but sufficiently long in this instance that they performed as if linked in mind and body.

Lowering to the leeward side of the atoll in a slow flapping of wings, Obsidian deposited his burden on a sandy strip of beach and settled down on the rocks nearby. Hunter Predd jumped off and hurried over to the motionless form. The man did not respond when the Wing Rider turned him on his back and began to check for signs of life. There was a pulse, and a heartbeat. His breathing was slow and shallow. But when Hunter Predd checked his face, he found his eyes had been removed and his tongue cut out.

He was an Elf, the Wing Rider saw. Not a member of the Wing Hove, however. The lack of harness scars on his wrists and hands marked him so. Hunter examined his body carefully for broken bones and found none. The only obvious physical damage seemed to be to his face. Mostly, he was suffering from exposure and lack of nourishment. Hunter placed a little fresh water from his pouch on the man’s lips and let it trickle down his throat. The man’s lips moved slightly.

Hunter considered his options and decided to take the man to the seaport of Bracken Clell, the closest settlement where he could find an Elven Healer to provide the care that was needed. He could take the man to Mesca Rho, but the island was only an outpost. Another Wing Rider and himself were its only inhabitants. No healing help could be found there. If he wanted to save the man’s life, he would have to risk carrying him east to the mainland.

The Wing Rider bathed the man’s skin in fresh water and applied a healing salve that would protect it from further damage. Hunter carried no extra clothing; the man would have to travel in the rags he wore. He tried again to give the man fresh water, and this time the man’s mouth worked more eagerly in response, and he moaned softly. For an instant his ruined eyes tried to open, and he mumbled unintelligibly.

As a matter of course and in response to his training, the Wing Rider searched the man and took from his person the only two items he found. Both surprised and perplexed him. He studied each carefully, and the frown on his lips deepened.

Unwilling to delay his departure any longer, Hunter picked up the man and, with Obsidian’s help, eased him into place on the Roc’s broad back. A pad cushioned and restraining straps secured him. After a final check, Hunter climbed back aboard his mount, and Obsidian lifted away.

They flew east toward the coming darkness for three hours, and sunset was approaching when they sighted Bracken Clell. The seaport’s population was a mixture of races, predominantly Elven, and the inhabitants were used to seeing Wing Riders and their Rocs come and go. Hunter Predd took Obsidian upland to a clearing marked for landings, and the big Roc swung smoothly down into the trees. A messenger was sent into town from among the curious who quickly gathered, and the Elven Healer appeared with a clutch of litter bearers.

“What’s happened to him?” the Healer asked of Hunter Predd, on discovering the man’s empty eye sockets and ruined mouth.

Hunter shook his head. “That’s how I found him.”

“Identification? Who is he?”

“I don’t know,” the Wing Rider lied.

He waited until the Healer and his attendants had picked up the man and begun carrying him toward the Healer’s home, where the man would be placed in one of the sick bays in the healing center, before dispatching Obsidian to a more remote perch, then following after the crowd. What he knew was not to be shared with the Healer or anyone else in Bracken Clell. What he knew was meant for one man only.

He sat on the Healer’s porch and smoked his pipe, his longbow and hunting knife by his side as he waited for the Healer to reemerge. The sun had set, and the last of the light lay across the waters of the bay in splashes of scarlet and gold. Hunter Predd was small and slight for a Wing Rider, but tough as knotted cord. He was neither young nor old, but comfortably settled in the middle and content to be there. Sun-browned and windburned, his face seamed and his eyes gray beneath a thick thatch of brown hair, he had the look of what he was—an Elf who had lived all of his life in the outdoors.

Once, while he was waiting, he took out the bracelet and held it up to the light, reassuring himself that he had not been mistaken about the crest it bore. The map he left in his pocket.

One of the Healer’s attendants brought him a plate of food, which he devoured silently. When he was finished eating, the attendant reappeared and took the plate away, all without speaking. The Healer still hadn’t emerged.

It was late when he finally did, and he looked haggard and unnerved as he settled himself next to Hunter. They had known each other for some time, the Healer having come to the seaport only a year after Hunter had returned from the border wars and settled into Wing Rider service off the coast. They had shared in more than one rescue effort and, while of different backgrounds and callings, were of similar persuasion regarding the foolishness of the world’s progress. Here, in an outback of the broader civilization that was designated the Four Lands, they had found they could escape a little of the madness.

“How is he?” Hunter Predd asked.

The Healer sighed. “Not good. He may live. If you can call it that. He’s lost his eyes and his tongue. Both were removed forcibly. Exposure and malnutrition have eroded his strength so severely he will probably never recover entirely. He came awake several times and tried to communicate, but couldn’t.”

“Maybe with time—”

“Time isn’t the problem,” the Healer interrupted, drawing his gaze and holding it. “He cannot speak or write. It isn’t just the damage to his tongue or his lack of strength. It is his mind. His mind is gone. Whatever he has been through has damaged him irreparably. I don’t think he knows where he is or even who he is.”

Hunter Predd looked off into the night. “Not even his name?”

“Not even that. I don’t think he remembers anything of what’s happened to him.”

The Wing Rider was silent a moment, thinking. “Will you keep him here for a while longer, care for him, watch over him? I want to look into this more closely.”

The Healer nodded. “Where will you start?”

“Arborlon, perhaps.”

A soft scrape of a boot brought him about sharply. An attendant appeared with hot tea and food for the Healer. He nodded to them without speaking and disappeared again. Hunter Predd stood, walked to the door to be certain they were alone, then reseated himself beside the Healer.

“Watch this damaged man closely, Dorne. No visitors. Nothing until you hear back from me.”

The Healer sipped at his tea. “You know something about him that you’re not telling me, don’t you?”

“I suspect something. There’s a difference. But I need time to make certain. Can you give me that time?”

The Healer shrugged. “I can try. The man inside will have something to say about whether he will still be here when you return. He is very weak. You should move swiftly.”

Hunter Predd nodded. “As swift as Obsidian’s wings can fly,” he replied softly.

Behind him, in the near darkness of the open doorway, a shadow detached itself from behind a wall and moved silently away.

The attendant who had served dinner to the Wing Rider and the Healer waited until after midnight, when the people of Bracken Clell were mostly asleep, to slip from his rooms in the village into the surrounding forest. He moved quickly and without the benefit of light, knowing his path well from having traveled it many times before. He was a small, wizened man who had spent the whole of his life in the village and was seldom given a second glance. He lived alone and had few friends. He had served in the Healer’s household for better than thirteen years, a quiet, uncomplaining sort who lacked imagination but could be depended on. His qualities suited him well in his work as a Healer’s attendant, but even better as a spy.

He reached the cages he kept concealed in a darkened pen behind the old cabin in which he had been born. When his father and mother had died, possession had passed to him as the eldest male. It was a poor inheritance, and he had never accepted that it was all to which he was entitled. When the opportunity had been offered to him, he snatched at it eagerly. A few words overheard here and there, a face or a name recognized from tales told in taverns and ale houses, bits and pieces of information tossed his way by those rescued from the ocean and brought to the center to heal—they were all worth something to the right people.

And to one person in particular, make no mistake about it.

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Ilse Witch (Voyage of the Jerle Shannara Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 101 reviews.
woodge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Since it's been 24 years since I last read a fantasy from this popular author, I thought I'd give him another go. This is the first book of a trilogy which finds a motley crew of adventures on a mission to find out what happened to an earlier mission and to recover some artifacts and hopefully get their greedy little hands on some new magic. There are elves, a druid, a seer, "Rovers" (like a gypsy), and all sorts of magic aboard the airship Jerle Shannara. It's an easy read but moves at a glacial pace. For such a popular author, you'd expect a more crackling story. But it seems to rely heavily on -- hey, what's the plural of deus ex machina? machinas? -- it uses magic too often to get characters in and out of trouble. That whole element should be toned down. Regardless, I'm enjoying the character of Truls Rohk, a somewhat minor character but more inventive than the others. The leader of the mission, Walker Boh, the druid, is a bit of a cipher. I'm hoping the second book gets more interesting.
willowcove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry but the 'Jerle' books were just a bit far-fetched for me. (They did however, make more sense after reading the 'Genesis' trilogy)
Karlstar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first of a new mini series set in the Four Lands. Like the Heritage series, we get to see parts of the Four Lands we haven't seen before. However, unlike the previous series, technology has started to creep back into the world, in the form of airships. That part about this series seemed a little odd to me - the constant battle between the forces of freedom and the dictatorship of the human federation has now taken on an almost 1941 RAF feeling. Not that that is bad, but the sudden rise of airships and their technology is a little bit jarring. This is still a good book and well done.
Redthing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book starts a new series by Terry Brooks, set in the Shannara world. Walker Boh happens upon a map that leads to a new continent, where some sort of "great magic" is to be found. The book is good, but it seemed like it took too long to get started, and then the crossing of the Blue Divide seemed to happen too quickly. The book does have a good cliffhanger ending that makes you want to read the rest of the series.
Wiszard on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first book of the new Shannara series delivers a terrific punch. From the opening chapter until the closing lines, Brooks leaves you wanting more. I couldn't put this book down. Walker Boh returns with a new cast of Leahs and Ohmsfords set in an era after the last series, Heritage of Shannara. I'm looking forward to picking up the next book in the series as this one ends on a cliffhanger. If you've loved te Shannara series so far, Isle Witch will not disappoint.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Twists & turns. Page turner. Excellent !
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
This one got off to a bit of a slow start for me. Terry Brooks has always had a great way of writing about the journey, the preparation, the traveling, the planning. But I don't think he quite hit that mark in this one. There are some fairly unique characters and a couple big surprises along the way to prepare for the journey, but it just wasn't enough to really pull me through that section of the story. Once we were underway, things got a little better. The aura of danger and being chased was amazing, but the highlights of their stops seemed to be rushed sometimes. I wanted to know more about each stop, see more of the islands, and more of the adventure. But, true to form, Terry Brooks still dragged me into the story and by the end of the book the characters had taken over and I needed to finish the story. Left with a bit of a cliffhanger, I'll be requesting book two soon!
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If you've read the other Shannara books Ilse Witch can take a little getting used too, with the introduction of airships. At first I was a little hesitant to read it. I thought it would be less compelling than previous novels because of the airships but I was wrong. It kept me up all night turning pages. Ilse Witch was a good start to a great series
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