Witch Wraith by Terry Brooks is the latest in the Shannara series, started many years ago with the Sword of Shannara. This is the third and final book in the “Dark Legacy of Shannara” trilogy and continues the adventures of the Ohmsfords, Druids, residents of the Four Lands, and the Demons in their battles.
The story opens with Railing Ohmsford searching for his long lost relative Grianne Ohmsford, formerly head of the Druid order and prior to that the Ilse Witch. The problem now is that Railing has been warned not to search for Grianne as it will not end the way anyone expects.
The quest to heal the Ellcrys and drive back the demons continues with Arlingfant and Aphenglow Elessedil elves of the royal family. They fight against all sorts of enemies trying to stop them, demon and human. If the tree is not reborn, the demons will come out of the Forbidding and destroy everything.
Finally Railing’s brother Redden is trying to find his way home from inside the Forbidding and do whatever it takes to put a stop to the impending demon invasion. He has unlikely allies including some minor demons inside the forbidding.
As with many of Terry Brooks’ Shannara books, we are kept on edge throughout the trilogy wondering how, or even if, the heroes will come through to the end. We’re reasonably sure that the Ellcrys will be reborn, but never quite sure how. Who will survive until the end? How will the demons be defeated? All I can say is that the ending is not quite what you’d expect if you’ve ever read Terry’s Shannara books in the past.
My Take: I’m a big fan of Terry’s Shannara books. There’s something refreshing in knowing that good will win out in the end and joining in the journey as the heroes grow, realize their strengths, and triumph over evil. That being said, this trilogy is appropriately named the “Dark Legacy”. The stories have definitely taken a darker turn with more deaths of main characters, tragic turnings, and human failings. I’ll spoil this a little bit saying that good still wins in the end, but with an ending that is sad for long-time readers.
I liked the book, as I do all of this series, but I hope to see less darkness in future Shannara novels. I look forward to what happens next in the Four Lands, and really hope that some form of peace or growth could come in future stories. If you’ve read any of Terry’s books you don’t need my review to know that you want to read this one. If you’ve never read any of his books, this is not the one with which to start. Go back to The Sword of Shannara and read them in publication order until you get here. You’ll appreciate it all the more.
Disclaimer: I was provided with this book by the publisher with no expectations on their part. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.