Jarka Ruus, Book One of the High Drauid of Shannara Trilogy, is our latest invitation from Terry Brooks to return to the Four Lands.
This time round, we find ourselves rooting for Penderrin Ohmsford who is charged with the mission of finding the missing High Druid, Grianne, the Ilse Witch from the prvious trilogy who also happens to be his aunt. Aiding him are the Elven prince Ahren Ellessedil and his niece Khyber and a cantankerous dwarf named Tagwen.
We have the usual group of villains who would stop at nothing to prevent Pen and his friends from accomplishing their goal. But be warned, the lead villain is not who you think it is as Pen discovers that something more sinister than traitorous and power-hungry druids are behind his aunt’s disappearance.
Pen does not inherit any of the “usual” magical powers bestowed on the Shannara descendents in the previous books. He does not wield the Sword, have use of the Elfstones, or call on the magic of the Wishsong. Instead, he has the power to communicate with plants and animals, an ability he is quick to dismiss but one which will prove very handy before the book ends.
The uniqueness of Pen’s power is the only trait that separates him from the previous Shannara heroes. In all other aspects, he is a carbon copy of Shea (Sword of Shannara), Par (Heritage of Shannara), or Bek (Voyage of the Jerle Shannara). Like is predecessors, Pen is plucked from his quiet life by fate to go on a perilous quest to save the world. He is reluctant, lacks confidence and feels sure that others are more suited to such an important job.
After more than 10 books set in the same fantasy world, be prepared for a sense of déjà vu in several places. However, the familiar characters in familiar situations do not prevent Jarka Russ from being an enjoyable book. Brooks still manages to astound with fresh wonders, developments, and intrigues. I’ll be queuing for the next books in the series.