Del Rey, Sept 2002, 27.95, 416 pp.
The last known living druid in the world Walker organizes an expedition to journey across the sea to Castledown to locate the magic book of the ancients. Walker and his followers utilize the airship Jerle Shannara to make their dangerous epic trek over water. Along the way the weary travelers find the lost gemstones of Shannara that once belong to the elves. They also realize that Walker's greatest enemy, the deadly Isle Witch along with her minions, is following them. Walker's allies are frightened, as they know that many of them will not survive the upcoming battle, but all remain steadfast and ready because they know what is in the balance. The two foes meet in a final confrontation in the ruins of Castledown where both sides suffer heavy casualties. Although Walker is mortally wounded, he and the Sword of Shanarra manage to force the Isle Witch to realize who she is and the numerous transgressions she has committed.
Unable to cope with the truth, the Isle Witch turns inward, falling into a catatonic state. As he nears death, and with his final breath, Walker charges Bek, the brother of the Isle Witch back to take care of his sibling and to watch over her until she can care for herself. Bek gladly accepts the assignment. Later a spirit Walker arrives impressing on Bek the criticality of his mission to insure that his sister remains safe until she finally comes to terms with the malice that she has previously done. The Isle Witch has a destiny awaiting her that she must fulfill or else. Bek and the companions that he meets after leaving Castledown find this no easy task to accomplish for the monster Morgawr, the Isle Witch's mentor, has come to find his traitorous protégée and kill her.
Sometimes Terry Brooks' works matches the best of J. R. Tolkein and THE VOYAGE OF THE JERLE SHANNARA: MORGAWR is one of those great instances in which the author succeeds. Elves, gnomes, dwarves, and druids are so vividly portrayed that readers come to believe these are real species living along side humans that Mr. Brooks has encountered outside his word processor. Though Walker is a typical champion that the audience admires for his courage against the impossible odds, the action-packed story line contains numerous other heroes and heroines. Many of these willingly sacrifice their lives for the overall good of their cause by enabling key survivors to escape the dangers of the lands they find themselves trapped inside with little hope of surviving. The author unabashedly yet cleverly sets up the reader for the next Shanara trilogy, apparently, in which the threads from this tale strongly imply that the Isle Witch plays a prominent and seemingly surprising role after her recent performances. Fans of epic fantasy will definitely want to read this exciting work and its wondrous predecessors as the Brooks Universe continues to shine with fantastic tales so that fifty years from now readers will claim author X is as good as Terry Brooks was.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner