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WesternSFA
The Defenders of Shannara: The High Druid's Blade
by Terry Brooks
Del Rey; $28; 305pp
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
I haven’t visited the world of Shannara for a long time, at least fifteen years.

This was a pleasant, entertaining revisit.

We start off with Paxon Leah, a young man involved in the family business of flying cargo in airships that sound like the ships used in the film “Treasure Planet.” He has a mother, Zeatha and a sister Chrysallin. His father is gone. There is this old black sword hanging over the fireplace….a weapon used by his long ago ancestors the Kings and Queens of Leah---now just a memory.

Things have changed in these lands—there’s a little bit of Federation science in use now---see the airships---and other mechanical wonders. Yet there is still the deep magic protected by the Fourth Order of Druids in Paranor overseen by the Ard Rhys—Aphenglow Elessedil.

Well, it’s time for that sword to be put to use again, even though magic is not encouraged in the Four Lands.

Its starts when Paxon’s sister is trapped by a devious scheme and kidnapped by Arcannen, an evil wizard who, interesting enough, owns a bawdy place called appropriately “Dark House.” Arcannen covets all things magical and he really wants the Sword of Leah.

Paxon rescues his sister and awkwardly uses the Sword to defend her which engenders the sword’s magical abilities for the first time in ages.  His magic use brings him to the attention of Paranor. Shortly thereafter, he meets with a Druid who invites him for a few days visit to Paranor, along with the family sword.

In Paranor they know what the Sword of Leah is and how very magical it is. Paxon is asked to train with the druids. He becomes great friends with Sebec who helps instruct him in magic. He learns practical sword work from a crusty old Gnome Oost Mondara.  Paxon Leah is a very happy camper with the change in his life. He and Sebec are even sent out on an assignment to discover a hideous monster that has been attacking a village, leaving mangled bodies behind.

Gruesome as it is, the situation tempers Paxon even further and everyone at Paranor is happy with his progress.

Then his sister disappears again.  And things escalate ginormously. Paxon’s nascent skills as a druid are called into play and even as he and another druid go out to confront Arcannen, deep schemes and agendas come into play. And to Paxon’s horror, an unexpected traitor is revealed.

The story is dramatic and full of real nasties and in these pages Paxon Leah has already grown from the simple air freight carrier into someone to be reckoned with. Stay tuned, undoubtedly for more. ~~ Sue Martin

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