Tag Archives: The Word and the Void

Retro Book Review – Running With the Demon

More than four years ago, I wrote my first book review for this blog. That was for Running With the Demon, by Terry Brooks. On my YouTube channel, I’ve started a series called Retro Book Reviews, where I will talk about books I’ve reviewed in the past, including how my impressions may have changed and how I feel about them now. Here’s the first one!

If you’ve read this book, what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.

Book Review – Angel Fire East

angelfireeastAngel Fire East

Author: Terry Brooks

Series: The Word & The Void #3 (Shannara prequel)

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Published 1999

Review Copy: Paperback bought new

Overall Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

Goodreads Description

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.

Review

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.

 

Book Review – A Knight of the Word

aknightofthewordA Knight of the Word is the second novel in The Word & the Void trilogy by Terry Brooks.  It’s an urban fantasy novel that takes place in contemporary America, although it is actually a prequel to the Shannara world.

John Ross is the Knight of the Word, and he’s having a tough time after a tragedy shook his confidence in his ability to be a Knight.  Enter Nest Freemark, recruited to get him back on track.  This takes place several years after Running with the Demon, but this time the tables are turned and Nest must help John.  John has turned his back on his duties as Knight of the Word, and in doing so, has lost the ability to use his magic.  But he must also prevent another tragedy from happening.

The main characters are the same, focusing on Nest and John.  There’s another demon, of course.  There’s a collection of secondary characters, but what’s important are Nest, John, Simon Lawrence, Two Bears (O’olish Amaneh), and Stefanie Winslow.  Nest is unsure of her ability to use magic, but doesn’t want to give up.  I like Nest.  She’s a likable character with some decent depth.  John Ross, on the other hand, has totally lost his confidence and doesn’t want to believe he can make a difference.  He’s also a good character, though has lost some of his aura of invincibility from the first book.  Two Bears returns, and some of the mystery around him has been lifted.  I was a bit surprised.  Simon Lawrence is John’s boss.  He plays an instrumental part, though I didn’t feel like he was a very deep character.  Stefanie is John’s girlfriend.  She was pretty good with John, and they made a good couple.  She also played a big part in the book.

The setting was mainly Seattle, which is where Terry Brooks lives.  I almost felt like he was giving a tour of downtown Seattle at times, but I got a good idea about the city.  It made me want to check out the old city underground if I can.  I had a good image of the area, though not completely intimate.  He wasn’t overly descriptive, but it was enough for me.

Unlike the previous book, it was more mobile with this novel, so we got to see more places.  I felt that the flow was good, and I could read it pretty quickly.  It was easy to read.  I could get back into the characters I got to know in the first book.  I actually enjoyed this more than Running with the Demon.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys urban fantasy, as well as those who want to see the origin of Shannara.  I give this 4 out of 5 stars.

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.

Review

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.