Wednesday, July 04, 2012

More Druid of Shannara: The Platypus Reads Part CLXV

We were visiting with the Game Guru and Co. for a few days so there hasn't been much time for reading.  However, I think I've gotten through enough material for another post.  This review, then, should take us from chapter 8 up through the beginning of chapter 12.

*Stuff You Might Not Want To Know If You Haven't Read The Book*

Let's carry the plot forward then.

We've learned a little more about the fate of the two Ohmsford brothers.  Coll is a prisoner in Southwatch.  Rimmer Dall tells him this is for his protection as Par is a Shadowen and could hurt Coll if he doesn't learn to control his powers.  Coll, of course, plots his escape.  Par, meantime, eventually gets over his bought of insanity brought on by the belief that he killed his brother.  Damson does lots of reassuring and the Mole keeps things suitably Gothic.  Once Par comes back to his senses, he begins exploring the mysteries of the Sword of Shannara, but he can't figure out how to activate the blade's power.  Federation soldiers, predictably, begin searching the sewers and Par and Damson are forced to flee.

Skipping over little Wren, who hasn't figured into this story much so far, we move back to Walker and Co.  Walker, sick and dying, goes back to hearthstone with Cogline and tries to find a cure for the poison of the Asphinx.  Time runs out when Rimmer Dall shows up with a horde of degenerate Shadowen and orders them to kill Cogline.  The old man puts up quite a fight before grabbing the Druid histories (as Allanon had instructed) and disapearing in a blaze of glory.  Walker is trapped under the burning house and Rimmer Dall, thinking his work complete, leaves.  Quickening shows up after a couple days with her two disciples and frees Walker.  After recruiting him, she reveals to the three men that they are going to get the Black Elfstone from the grasp of Uhl Belk, the Stone King.  More importantly, Quickening will not be able to use her magic to help them.  The three heroes must rely on the magic they posses to accomplish the quest.

With that out of the way, let's examine things a bit.

Coll, like Morgan Leah, is growing into an interesting character.  He has some sense, and is able to rise to the occasion.  Par, on the other hand, in spite of some earth-shattering events, is till the same character we met in the beginning.  If Brooks doesn't allow him to grow, he'll soon be outpaced by the other characters.  The only thing that saves the Par and Damson sections right now is the tight writing.  Brooks has simply refined his craft to the point where he can use plot, pacing, and scenery to cover for weak characters.  That's quite an accomplishment, but it can only hold up for so long.  The fact is that the rest of the story is supporting Par's dead weight right now.  Par is the key character in these books, and if Brooks allows this situation to continue, it could really cripple (though not kill) the whole series.  As a side note, I am just glad that nothing horrible has happened to the Mole yet.  In a well-run RPG, he'd die in some truly awful way just to get the PCs really riled up and ready to rip the villain to pieces.

Why Do we keep skipping over Wren?  She's really the cast-off of the whole series at this point.  I know she gets book III all to herself, but she needs more build-up if the series is feel like an integrated whole.  Oh well, maybe Brooks has that one covered.  Moving on, Quickening seems to settle into the plot better the more she acts like Frodo and the less she acts like Christ.  The Shannara books can't really carry the weight of Christ-event, but they can carry the weight of an elemental sent to accomplish a task for a faerie lord that will encompass her death.  Brooks does a good job of preserving Quickening's alterity so far, though that will remain the constant challenge of this book.  Thee three men, oddly enough, seem to be welding well into a team.  Now that Morgan Leah can carry a bit more weight, as Walker acknowledges, we can move the quest into a little more mature territory (from teens to twenty and thirty somethings).  This will, of course, put strain on the Par and Coll narratives if they can't mature enough to keep pace.  On a different note, now that we know a bit more about the quest, I'm still not sure if it was wise of Terry Brooks to insert another villain.  Uhl Belk still seems to feel both like an insertion and a distraction.  We'll see if he can be weaved back into the main story, but I remain skeptical.

There you go: The Druid of Shannra, chapters 8 through 12.  Happy Fourth everyone!           

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