In a time when the world was young, before the age of man, when magic ruled the day in a world of Faerie, the Elves waged war against demons and darkness. Understanding that the world needed balance but no longer wanting endless war, the Elves called upon all their strength and crafted the Forbidding --- a magical barrier that imprisoned the demons and kept the Four Lands free and safe. But the barrier could only be maintained by the Ellcrys, and should the Ellcrys die, the Forbidding would fail and the demons would be loosed.
Within the pages of BLOODFIRE QUEST, author Terry Brooks brings the world to just such a brink. The Ellcrys is beginning to fade, but she has named her successor --- young Arlingphant Elessedil. Arlingphant, however, is terrified and heartbroken, for to take on the role of the Ellcrys is to sacrifice yourself, to give up life in order to give the Ellcrys tree new birth and keep the world safe. This rebirth requires the finding of the Bloodfire, and so a quest must be mounted to locate the fountain before it’s too late. Arlingphant is reluctant to take on this task, wanting instead to join her sister, Aphenglow, as a Druid. Wanting to keep her life.
"BLOODFIRE QUEST is an epic adventure packed into 350 pages, delivering more of a punch than many trilogies provide in three books."
The Druid Order, however, is in shambles following the events in WARDS OF FAERIE. Paranor has been sealed following the failed siege by Drust Chazhul, and the Ard Rhys Khyber Elessedil has undertaken a mission to locate the two lost Elfstones. The Ard Rhys and her companions have now discovered that the Forbidding is, in fact, failing, and they have found themselves trapped on the other side, in the land of the Jarka Ruus. Hunted by savage beasts and the Straken Lord, Tael Riverine, the team seeking the Elfstones is no longer concerned with their quest. Their only hope now is to stay alive. Surprisingly, they find aid in the form of Tesla Dart, a creature related to Weka Dart, who once saved Ard Rhys Grianne Ohmsford from Tael's prison.
Outside the wavering Forbidding, Seersha and her crew have likewise been besieged by beasts, every night seeing their group diminish under a savage onslaught. Railing Ohmsford suffers with a broken leg and longs for his brother, Reddon, to return safely. But he is losing hope that any of them will survive. When the last ragged survivors learn that Khyber Elessedil and Redden Ohmsford have become prisoners to the Straken Lord, their hopes fade further, for what he demands for their release is impossible: bring back Grianne Ohmsford to him. But the former Ard Rhys is nothing but spirit now, and so the fate of the Four Lands is set to tip into calamity.
BLOODFIRE QUEST does not suffer your often standard second book syndrome -- that volume that serves only to tie the beginning and ending of a trilogy together. This novel is packed with multiple story arcs that interconnect, and is teeming with action and despair alike. It is, in every respect, a true page-turner. Longtime fans of the Shannara series will enjoy the deepening history with the Grianne Ohmsford/Tesla Dart/Tael Riverine connections. New readers will not be lost if they've not read the previous books, though they absolutely should read WARDS OF FAERIE beforehand. And once again, waiting for the finale will not be an issue as the final installment, WITCH WRAITH, will hit shelves later this summer.
Terry Brooks shows no signs of slowing down or becoming stagnant in his ideas. Shannara continues to deepen, and Brooks continues to color his world with new hues, making each return visit a worthwhile one. His characters, particularly with this installment, are extraordinarily burdened by seemingly impossible odds and by losses that mount with every passing chapter. The relationships within are strained, some are deepened, and new unions must be formed if Tael Riverine is to be stopped and his demons secured behind a Forbidding made strong by a reborn Ellcrys. BLOODFIRE QUEST is an epic adventure packed into 350 pages, delivering more of a punch than many trilogies provide in three books.
Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on March 15, 2013