Angel Fire East
Author: Terry Brooks
Series: The Word & The Void #3 (Shannara prequel)
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Review Copy: Paperback bought new
Overall Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5
As a Knight of the Word, John Ross has struggled against the dark forces of the Void and his minions for twenty-five years. The grim future he dreams each night– a world reduced to blood and ashes–will come true, unless he can stop them now, in the present.
The birth of a gypsy morph, a rare and dangerous creature that could be an invaluable weapon in his fight against the Void, brings John Ross and Nest Freemark together again. Twice before, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance, the lives of Ross and Nest have intersected. Together, they have prevailed. But now they will face an ancient evil beyond anything they have ever encountered, a demon of ruthless intelligence and feral cunning. As a firestorm of evil erupts, threatening to consume lives and shatter dreams, they have but a single chance to solve the mystery of the Gypsy morph–and their own profound connection.
Angel Fire East is the third and final part of The Word & the Void trilogy, which itself is a prequel series to the larger Shannara series. It’s unclear as to how they’ll connect, as I have yet to read the following Genesis of Shannara series. But this can be read without any knowledge of Shannara.
In this installment, we revisit Nest Freemark and John Ross as they battle against the Void. This time, it’s ten years later, and Nest is a woman in her late 20s, having retired to a calm and comfortable life in her hometown. She’s a more confident woman who hoped everything was behind her. In comes Bennett Scott with a young daughter, Harper, and things start to get complicated. A demon shows up shortly after wanting John Ross. And then finally, John himself shows up. This is probably the deadliest and darkest book in this trilogy. The bad guys are more dangerous, this time several demons. The lead demon, Findo Gask, is a cold and calculating demon who is doing a lot of this for his own enjoyment. Everyone seems to have their own problems and the demon just creates more. John has come with the Gypsy Morph, a magical being that has a short lifespan, and they need to figure out the mystery of what it wants before Findo Gask can find it.
The story gets off to a comfortable Terry Brooks style pace, but soon becomes extremely serious. There’s a lot of pressure from Gask throughout the book, and lots of pressure to get the Gypsy Morph problem solved. I found myself wondering what was going to happen through much of the book, especially about what this Gypsy Morph is supposed to do. I felt a sense of uncertainty about who was safe and who wasn’t. Who would die and who would survive. The ending was a surprise. I didn’t expect the Gypsy Morph to become that, but it makes me wonder how this will play out in Genesis of Shannara.
The characters are much the same, though Nest is far more confident and mature. John seems to do not much of anything throughout the story, until the end. For once, he seems at a loss at what to do. Bennett Scott was a child in Running With the Demon, but she returns here as a complete mess, and with a young daughter, too. Pick is the same as always. Larry Spence, the deputy sheriff was quite irritating, though. His feelings for Nest and Nest’s indifference to him made me just want him to go away. Of course, he played a major part in the story.
The town of Hopewell is much the same as before. It’s well-described, and I can imagine it well. However, I think it required some previous knowledge of the town, as it was described well in Running With the Demon. There was less attention to detail, I thought. It could just be my memory. But I could still imagine myself there as before. Just not as vivid.
What I felt like we have with Angel Fire East is a better product overall. The tension was greater, the story was stronger, and I felt more into the action and characters. It was the best of the trilogy, and I’m excited to see what happens in the future. I give this 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. Solid book.