Sunday, June 26, 2011

Platypus of Shannara: The Platypus Reads Part CVI

Once we get into the battle scenes, Brooks is completely on top of his game.  At the battles of the Halys Cut and Baen Draw the story had me compulsively turning pages and feeling some genuine emotion.  Allanon's confrontation with the dragon was particularly intense.  Beyond that, Stee Jans quickly achieves the weight necessary for him to be a staunch supporting character and even Pindanon moves up a notch right when the author needs him to for dramatic effect (in other words, right before killing him off).  Even in the midst of the action, Brooks carves out room for real character development as we watch Ander take his father's throne and learn that Allanon's magic is slowly killing him (a reason that he's so empathetic and patient with Amberle?).  As with the Pykon, then, these chapters represent some of the best writing in the book thus far.  My only regret is that Arion never really emerges as a three-dimensional character before he dies.  That takes away from some of the power the event has on Ander's development.  Oh well, that's always a risk with these cast-of-thousands epics.

Showing good narrative sense, Brooks cuts away from the elven army and the demons at just the right moment to return to Wil and Amberle.  If he keeps cutting back and forth this judiciously, it should help with the overall interest of the work.  The Shannara books are adventure novels and they can't afford to lag.  Speaking of lagging, there has to be a little bit of lag time as we switch gears to Wil and Amberle.  The journey to Grimpen Ward and the description of the town do good yeoman's service by advancing the plot while simultaneously keeping up the tension.  We're allowed a little bit of a breather after the big battle scenes, but not much.  That kind of deft pacing is crucial in this sort of genre.  It's the kind of thing that keeps you racing through a Ridder Haggard, Anthony Hope, or Edgar Rice Burroughs novel without burning out.  We'll see if Brooks can keep it up.

And that brings us to thirty three and page 339.

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