HIGH DRUID OF SHANNARA: TANEQUIL
The High Druid trilogy, a self-contained series set in Brooks' ubiquitous Shannara, continues with an adequate second entry. As the Federation War drags on, Pen continues to try to rescue Aunt Grianne from her imprisonment in the Forbidding. Grianne must be restored to her position as High Druid to stop Shannara's destruction, so Pen and his sidekicksthe grumpy dwarf Tagwen, the blind Rover Cinnamindon and the perky elf Khybersearch for the sentient tree from which Pen must make the darkwand that will free his aunt.
Brooks infuses new life into his land by taking readers into the Forbidding, a demon haunt never before explored. This isn't the novel to introduce new readers to Shannara, however, with its multiple throwaway references to people and events gone before. The back story is so complex and multilayered that new readers won't be able to disentangle it; they are better off starting at the beginning, with The Sword of Shannara, and preparing themselves for a long haul. Tanequil does have Brooks' witty characterizations and suspense-filled cliffhangers, which nicely set up the conclusion of the trilogy. (Sep., 368 pp., $26.95)
Jen Talley Exum