Book Review: The Word and the Void – Running with the Demon

Word and the Void: Running with the DemonRunning with the Demon

Author: Terry Brooks
Series: The Word & the Void #1 (Shannara prequel series)
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Published 1997
Review Copy: Paperback bought new
Overall Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

Goodreads Description

On the hottest Fourth of July weekend in decades, two men have come to Hopewell, Illinois, site of a lengthy, bitter steel strike. One is a demon, dark servant of the Void, who will use the anger and frustration of the community to attain a terrible secret goal. The other is John Ross, a Knight of the Word, a man who, while he sleeps, lives in the hell the world will become if he fails to change its course on waking. Ross has been given the ability to see the future. But does he have the power to change it? At stake is the soul of a fourteen-year-old girl mysteriously linked to both men. And the lives of the people of Hopewell. And the future of the country.


I’ve read a lot of Terry Brooks books, and before this one, it was all Shannara.  This was my first experience reading a non-Shannara book of his.  Or is it non-Shannara?  Turns out it’s not, as the Genesis of Shannara trilogy links The Word and the Void to the Shannara world.

Running with the Demon shares a lot of similarities with Shannara, yet it is also different.  The character types are basically the same.  Terry Brooks tends to write books with the same basic character types, particularly the main protagonists.  On one hand, you have a young, inexperienced magic user from a family of magic users who is on a journey of self-discovery, and then there’s the dark, mysterious stranger who comes into town and has a lot of secrets.  Nest Freemark is similar to Shannara’s Ohmsfords, while John Ross is like the Druids of Shannara.  The parallels are very obvious.  I found this to be quite predictable, as Brooks rarely deviates from these kinds of characters.  It’s good if you like this kind of familiarity, but for those who have read a lot of his books and want something new, you aren’t going to get it from the characters or the story.

What’s new is the setting.  Instead of a fantasy setting, we have a modern day midwestern American town around Independence Day.  This gives a fresh setting, though there is no traveling and exploration from Brooks’ other books.
What I liked about this book is the new setting and a sense of familiarity with his writing.  Although he’s not the best at writing realistic characters, I did enjoy the story in general.  I felt myself seeing the town and the action in my mind fairly well.  I could get into it a bit, but I felt like I couldn’t get attached to the characters.  There was a lot of foreshadowing indicating what the story’s biggest mystery was, but I must admit that I wasn’t quite guessing correctly.  I wasn’t surprised when it was revealed, though.

Despite its drawbacks, I do want to see what happens in the next book, as well as see how it connects with the Shannara world.  It’s a decent book with a good recommendation from me.  I give it a score of 3.5 out of 5.

What should I read next?

I just went through my book collection, I guess my small library, and typed out the titles in a list on my computer.  I’ve discovered that I’ve been underestimating how many books I have yet to read.  I have 116 unread books.  I guess I was a bit overzealous when I bought books over the past few years in Japan.  You see, sometimes it’s difficult to find books in English in Japan.  There are a handful of big bookstores that sell them, and I can never be sure if they’ll have more copies if they sell what they have.  Therefore, I often bought more books than I needed.  This creates a bit of a problem for me.  What do I read next?  I thought I’d ask you.  I’m going to list 7 books I’m considering, then I’d like you to vote on which one I should read.

I just completed Terry Brooks’ “Running with the Demon” and am currently reading “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke.  Sometimes I like to read a complete series, if it’s short.  Other times, I mix it up.  So, what should I read next?

Welcome to the new blog

I’d like to welcome you to my new blog.  My regular readers know me through Jay Dee in Japan and Foreign Dad in Japan.  I started this blog for a few reasons.  For the past few months, I’ve wanted a place where I can write about anything that comes to mind.  This blog will be used to talk about books and writing, as well as to show my own writing and commentary about many issues.

First, I’ll be writing about books I’m reading, mostly posting short reviews.  I usually read science fiction and fantasy, but I also like to read some classics, as well as non-fiction books related to Japan, language and science.

Second, I’ll be showing my own writing.  I have a couple of books in planning stages right now, and plan to self-publish them as e-books in the future.  I’ll use this blog to practice my writing, sometimes taking challenges from or writing flash fiction.  I will also write about my own experiences as a narrative.

Finally, I’ll be writing commentary about any issues that I’m thinking about.  I’ll probably be writing about culture, science, social issues, and more.  What you most likely won’t find here is pictures about Japan (see my Japan blog for that) or my adventures of being a foreign father in Japan (see my Foreign Dad blog).  I’ll be quite honest about issues that I’m concerned about.

Now, you’re probably wondering about the title of this blog.  Well, it kind of shows a bit about my character.  When I was around 7 years old, I actually read Encyclopedias for fun.  I still enjoy doing that.  I enjoy learning about new things a lot.  What kind of things does a 7 year old kid read about?  I’m not sure if I was very typical as a child, but I liked to read about science, geography, history, countries, and more.  My passions back then were astronomy and palaeontology.  This is probably pretty typical.  Lots of kids like space and dinosaurs, right?  Well, I studied physics and astronomy in university.  I teach English.  I enjoy history, culture, language, architecture, any kind of science, literature, technology, and more.  When I was a kid, I didn’t really like to read novels.  I rarely read fiction until I started university.  Now, I love it.  I was the science geek in school.  I loved Star Trek (actually, still do).  I was a geek and a nerd.  That’s not to say I didn’t like other things.  These days, I’m busy working, but also enjoy hiking, long distance walking, and mountain hiking.

So, there you go.  Any questions?

The official blog of Jay Dee Archer. Exploring new worlds, real and fictional.