Armageddon's Children (Genesis of Shannara) by Terry Brooks
|Armageddon's Children (Genesis of Shannara) by Terry Brooks|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: An unremarkable volume of fantasy from an author patching two long-standing sagas together with an unfortunate mix of mediocrity and lack of invention.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 448||Date: July 2007|
|External links: Author's website|
Terry Brooks was right up my street when I was a teenager - excellent fantasy fiction, with great cinematic scope and a compelling epic quality I found second to none. I could not have been alone, as his books remained popular, while becoming for me awkwardly numerous.
As it stands, he has published many series in the Shannara universe, five books of another series, and several in the Word/Void mythology. Now, in a book his website puffs up as ideal for people coming to him new, he drags that saga into the Shannara realm, with the first volume of what might turn out as three trilogies. Eeek.
Armageddon's Children takes a triptych (what is it about fantasy and the number three after all?!) of stories, woven in a post-apocalyptic world. It is a world where much of humanity is living in armed compounds made out, post-Katrina style, of sports arenas. Street gangs of youths scrabble for survival. A horrendous chemical and nuclear war has left the majority of humankind distorted into animalistic mutants, or at mercy to an even greater battle - that between good and evil - Knights of the Word, fighting for mankind's souls against the demons of the Void.
Thus a couple of Knights, without knowing anything about the other, get relevant back-story, and urgent quests involving the one child or item that can change the world. Thus the Ghosts, a collection of street kids, live by faux-socialist principles and tell each other stories which, in their ignorance, are distorted fragments of the Bible - wouldn't you just know it?
Thus, too, a third story crops up only halfway through, and again many pages later - so many that much of what we know is just plain repeated. This leads on to the problems with the book - there is just no art to the storytelling. It's engaging enough, but the point comes when we realise this volume will just stop on us with no resolution to any story, and after that we cannot care. There are vague patches where either mistakes or irresolution don't help our enjoyment. The children plod under their politics, reminding us that beyond Tolkein the biggest influence on fantasy is the 1970s, and are allowed to find a stash of rare, valuable bottled water, only for the author to forget they ought to go and fetch it.
Also, everyone gets a prologue, quite often at entirely the wrong time. The pattern of child seeming unexceptional > back-story > child proving herself quite miraculous, is too much.
As a plot, I can't pass judgement - we have a prolonged set-up of clichés, and nothing else. So many of the other characteristics are only remarkable for how recognisable they are. I would suggest that if anyone is really interested in near-future, post-holocaust-set sagas of patches of humankind reverting to silly names and struggling with forces of evil might be better off exploring an author trying a lot harder - this springs to mind.
We've also reviewed Dark Wraith of Shannara by Terry Brooks.
I don't think I'm alone in having a suspicion about an author who has a new book pencilled in for each of the next five Septembers, spread across different series to justify reprints, back-promotion and so on. This spread of fiction might eventually lead into a worthwhile story, after this first of many "To be continued... "'s, but I for one will not be there. It is not a worthwhile purchase until the whole saga is finished - if at all.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Armageddon's Children (Genesis of Shannara) by Terry Brooks at Amazon.com.
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