I've been on a trip and that's kept me away from the keyboard for the past week. It hasn't kept me away from the books, however, and I ended up finishing The Elf Queen of Shannara. Rather than try to break that huge chunk of pages down into several posts, I'm going to attempt to summarize here my thoughts on the work as a whole with a brief summary of the events since chapter 18 to help jog any faulty memories.
When we last left our heroes, Wren had taken up her role as Queen of the elves. Now, we have remaining in the company of the Loden only Wren+animal friends, Garth, Eowen, Gavilan, Triss, and Dal. With Ellenroh's death, Eowen decides to tell Wren the secret behind the demons and the renewal of elven magic. Quite simply, the elves are both the demons and the Shadowen, or least some of them are. The elves delved too deep and too greedily and awakened that from which they fled... Oops, wrong book. This revealed, Eowen predicts her own death and is promptly captured and killed by the Drakuls (name give any hint?) who use her as bait to get at Wren. Wren blows them all away with super-awesome pyrotechnics and finally begins to overcome her reticence about using the magic. Upon returning, Wren, Garth, Triss, and the happy forest creatures discover that Gavilan has nutted up and knocked Dal's brains out, running off with the Loden. There's a wonderful chase through the jungle terminating in that wonderful little Checkov's Gun, the Wistron. Gavilan's been gutted like a fish and Wren has to use more super-awesome pyrotechnics to destroy the Wistron and reclaim the Loden. Garth is poisoned over the course of the fight and commits suicide (with Wren's help) after revealing that he knew Wren's parents and had been training her to one day be the savior of the elves. Wren has angst. Triss and the fuzzy friends make it to the beach after smoking hordes of demons and Tiger Ty returns just in time to save the day. After that, Wren puts the elves back in their proper place and we end with a cut-away to Walker Boh restoring Paranor and becoming the first of a new line of Druids.
That's the summary, now comes my thoughts. This is the most tightly plotted of any of the books thus far. There's reason for this as The Elf Queen of Shannara stands or falls on the tightness of its plot. The whole work is straight action-adventure fair without any complexities to help carry it. Compare this with The Druid of Shannara which actually manages to survive with most of its conclusion shoved into another novel(tEQoS). Brooks, finally nailing it this time, sets himself a fairly simple goal: make Wren Ohmsford into the Queen of the Elves. Everything in this work, even the cut-aways to other plot lines (which give us space to breath, contemplate, and raise the stakes of Wren's quest), is subservient to this one end. How Brooks accomplishes this end is rather simple: use the death-trap of Morrowindl to strip his leading lady of everything that made her former identity and then use it to force her to accept a new identity as Queen of the Elves or die. That's the whole book -and it works.
The only larger take-away I can find here is that I think I've forgotten just how much story is dependent upon plot. I like Wren as a character, but in the end I was turning pages to find out what happened next (even when I sometimes remembered from prior readings!). It was the tightness of the plot that held me. Right now, I don't know what I think about that, but if I do I'll be sure to tell you.
Until next time dear reader. We're three books down and one more to go!