Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shannara Platypus: The Platypus Reads Part CVII

Look at Wil, now back to Ander, now back at Wil, now back at Ander.  Wil doesn't look like Ander, but he could smell like him...  Ok, so now we're ramping up the pace as the novel heads towards its climax.  That means switching back and forth between the two narratives every chapter or two to raise the tension.  We'll start with the elves and demons.

Elves and Demons.  Brooks sets us up for that great fantasy cliche "the siege."  Ever since Tolkien gave us the battle of Helm's Deep and the siege of Minas Tirith, the epic battle for the bastion of the forces of light has become the sin qua non of fantasy writing.  Brooks has worked up to this moment with the battles of the passes and the Sarandanon.  Even though there are three battles in this book, they are wisely deployed.  Each battle has some novel element that separates it from the others and thus keeps the the story from becoming repetitive.  After all, three battles in two-hundred pages?  That could get tiresome.  He even reuses the trope of "small band of soldiers facing vast horde of merciless foes but relieved at the last moment by as small and colorful band of allies".  The difference in this case is that we've moved from pitched battle to a siege.  We also get the unexpected appearance of the Wing Riders, thus tying our two narrative threads together again, and the return of Eventine.  Speaking of Eventine, is Brooks being a little to obvious in tipping his hand about who the spy is?  I know he's trying to make us nervous, but was that the right move?

Moving back to Wil and Amberle, Brooks gives us a plausible reason  for why Cephelo saves our duo yet again: he wants the elfstones.  Now I can't remember from when I last read this book, but I imagine that will get him killed.  Perfidy never goes unrewarded in these books.  Eretria is back to throwing herself at will, there being no such thing as a restraining order or sexual harassment suit in Wilderun.  This now creates some nice tension as Wil and Amberle have bonded and Eretria threatens to drive them apart.  Wil does the decent thing, however, and sends the fan service, I mean young Rover girl away.  Before that happens, however, we get to meet Hebble.  When we first meet him, it's as if we've strayed over into a Wendel Berry novel.  Of course, this jars a little with the fact that Brooks has gone to great lengths to convince us of the utter lethality of Wilderun.  Oh well, a little extra will in the willing suspension of disbelief and we can fudge it.  He is a good character and his legend of the witch sisters is well-narrated and compelling adding an air of enchantment we haven't had since the first time we met the Rovers.

Now, my guess as to where this is going, because I can't remember.  I bet the Reaper will track Wil and Amberle and mistakenly attack the Rovers.  Cephelo will try to use the stones he's stolen from Wil and be killed if he's unlucky.  Eretria will somehow recover the stones and escape bringing them back to Wil.  We'll see if I'm right.  

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