The Darkling Child by Terry Brooks.
For this review, I am going to do something different than the others, and the reasoning is simple: Terry Brooks does not write a bad book, but this one, like the last few, have not been all that great.
What I mean is this book is a standard Terry Brooks book. Though this is the second book of a loosely connected trilogy, it has all the same things that has made Brooks’ books famous. There is an orphan who is an Ohmsford. There is the Druids. There is the quest for something. There is the Wishsong. There are a number of different things that show up in his works, including the same way to describe people, like their “shock” of black hair, etc.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have been reading Terry Brooks for twenty years now and have read every one of his books up to this point (though I still have his most latest to read) and I will continue to read his books because they are enjoyable. I have re-read the original trilogy, the Scions and the Voyage arcs multiple times. But, they are starting to get a bit bogged down by the history of those earlier books. There was multiple points in this book where one character tells the history of the Wishsong to another and then not much later, they tell more history about previous books, almost like Mr. Brooks is reminding himself of what he wrote twenty+ years ago.
The characters aren’t original or that complex. I do enjoy the fact that a Leah is the main protagonist, but Paxon is not a very interesting character. I’ll be honest, I skimmed most of his chapters as he was almost a side character thrown in to keep it a Shannara book. I think this book could have been much stronger outside of the Shannara world, or without having that connective character like an Ohmsford or Leah. But then again, that goes counter to Mr. Brooks’ narrative that all Shannara books are one big family history.
But that leads me into another thing that has gotten a bit stale: the stock Ohmsford orphan character, this time named Reyn. Ever since The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, there seems to be an orphan Ohmsford in all of his books. The Voyage characters were awesome and I loved that series, mainly because of Grianne Ohmsford’s arc, but Bek’s orphan was deep and flawed. Since then, the orphans or Ohmsfords have been really boring and uninspiring. It is unfortunate that the new series coming out, which is said to be the end of the chronological order of Shannara books, has another one of these characters. Reyn was just annoying and boring. Having a sixteen year old in each book fall in love and learn of his magic gets old after seeing it so many times before.
I will say, that on the other hand, I love Arcannen, the sorcerer. He gets much more screen time this time out and he is awesome. Complex and clever, but also caring in a strange sense. I loved his scenes and the more of him, the better. Lariana was interesting and great up front, but then she just fell by the wayside and “fell” in love with Reyn. I thought it was sort of a cop out with her at the end and I was left disappointed. Also, who is the Darkling Child? We are never told who that is, but the only hint is that it is Reyn because of his ancestor who went into the Forbidding, but I’m not so sure. I was hoping Lariana would have been one and the early version of her makes you think so, like I said, disappointing.
For those who love Terry Brooks, don’t be mad at this. I enjoyed the book but was definitely hoping for more. I will still read his new books with great anticipation, but I hope that the final four are much stronger than those written after the High Druid arc (the chronological line, so that doesn’t include Genesis and Legends).
3 our of 5