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Posts Tagged ‘Terry Brooks’

A Review of Witches’ Brew

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 24, 2014

Witches' Brew (Magic Kingdom of Landover, #5)Witches’ Brew by Terry Brooks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what to think of this book. This is the fifth book in the series and I loved the first one so much, I’ve wanted to read all of the others. And most have been decent — but not as good as the first one.

In this one, Ben Holiday and Willow’s daughter, Mistaya, is growing at an astounding rate. She’s two, but looks 10 and acts 15. In other words, she’s a spoiled little bitch and entirely unlikeable and I didn’t like this about the novel. And it centers around her, for the most part, so we’re inundated with her attitude. So, someone comes to the castle and issues Ben a challenge for the kingdom of Landover. If he can defeat seven monsters, he’ll keep his kingdom. If not, the challenger gets it. Strangely, though, Mistaya is kidnapped almost immediately and used as bait for Ben to follow this stranger’s rules. While traveling with Mistaya in a fruitless effort to find her safety, Questor and Abernathy are sent back to Ben’s home world of Earth, where Abernathy is turned from dog back to human and he is elated. Of course, not all is as it seems. Nightshade, the witch, is behind everything and steals Mistaya to train her to become a witch — and to unwittingly kill her father.

In the last book, I complained that Ben seemed pretty dense, which was odd considering that he had been a high priced, successful attorney in Chicago and was now king of the land. In this book, he’s just as dense and so is Willow. In fact, they spend most of their time together in the book “holding” each other for support — and that gets pretty damn old very quick.

There is magic in this book, of course. And we get to see some of the characters we know and like, such as the Earth Mother and her mud puppy and Strabo, the dragon. And Ben does somehow defeat several monsters through the help of his alter ego, the Paladin. But by the time Ben has figured out what’s going on, the reader figured everything out eons before and is annoyed by his ineptitude and I’ve got to fault Brooks for that. I want to give this three stars, but because it’s a Landover book and I enjoy the series and because it does introduce some new people and elements to the setting, I’ll give it four. Cautiously recommended.

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A Review of The Black Unicorn

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 22, 2014

The Black Unicorn (Magic Kingdom of Landover, #2)The Black Unicorn by Terry Brooks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Boy, a lot of people really don’t like this book. Well, I do. Granted, it’s not as good as the first book in this Landover series, but I still think it tells a good story. In it, one night Ben Holiday, the new king of Landover, his wizard Questor Thews, and the sylph Willow all have dreams that compel them to go on individual quests because of what they see in their dreams — Ben sees his former law partner in Chicago in trouble and crying out for Ben’s help, Questor sees some magic books he can acquire, and Willow sees a black unicorn and a gold bridle meant for it. However, the evil wizard, Meeks, reappears and is the source of these dreams. He follows Ben back into Landover and exchanges identities with Ben, getting Ben kicked out of the castle and taking over the rule of the land. He then takes possession of the books that Questor attained and goes on an extensive search for the black unicorn, which apparently possesses some serious magic that he wants to harness. Meanwhile, Ben sets out on a search for Willow, anticipating great danger for her and wanting to save her from it. He is joined by a fantastic character, a fairie creature in the form of a “prism” cat named Edgewood Dirk. He accompanies Ben on his journeys, saves his life on occasion, and tries to impart wisdom in a game playing, cryptic cat-like way that merely infuriates Ben. (Brooks seems to really GET cats in his portrayal here.) He learns nothing. And this is where people have a problem with the book. In the first book, Ben used his skills learned as a world class lawyer to guide his way through becoming king of Landover. In this book, he’s dense as a rock. I mean, dumb as hell. Midway through the book, a 10-year-old child can figure out what has happened to Ben, but it’s not til the end of the book that he himself does, this after Dirk has hinted at it repeatedly. Apparently this infuriates a number of fans. I take it with a grain of salt and knock the book down a star. Of course, since this is a four book series, you know Ben’s going to beat Meeks and win in the end, but it’s fun to see it occur. And there’s the love interest between Ben and Willow, although it’s also frustrating to see how dense Ben is about his feelings regarding Willow. Still, this wasn’t a bad book. I like magic and fantasy and there’s plenty of that here. I’ve already read the third book in this series and I think it’s a bit better, so chalk this up to trying to write a sequel to a really good first book and falling a bit short. Nonetheless, recommended.

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A Review of The Tangle Box

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 9, 2014

The Tangle Box (Magic Kingdom of Landover, #4)The Tangle Box by Terry Brooks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Tangle Box was a very enjoyable book to read. The fourth in the Landover series, I have read the first one several times, but this is the only other one I’ve gotten to. Fortunately, it can stand on its own merits, so you needn’t have read the preceding books, although I suspect it might have helped. It’s a good book.

Ben Holiday, the king of Landover, discovers that he and his sylph wife, Willow, are going to have a baby and he’s overjoyed, only to become disappointed when Willow tells him she must go on a solo journey for their baby’s sake. And so off she goes, and her journey is a doozy. Meanwhile, Horris Kew and Biggar, exiles from Landover, are returned there from Earth by powerful magic, tricked by a magical evil fairy called the Gorse, who has escaped from the Tangle Box, a box of fairy mists one can never escape from without outside help, and which he uses to trap Ben, Strabo the dragon, and Nightshade the witch. A good part of this book tells of their travels through the gloom of the Tangle Box. In the meantime, Questor Thews and Abernathy are left to care for the kingdom, not knowing what has happened to Ben.

In the Tangle Box, everyone’s worst fears are realized, and it’s interesting to see the interrelationships of Ben, Strabo, and Nightshade, sworn enemies, as they no longer remember their previous lives and work together to try and escape whatever it is they’re trapped in.

So Kew and Biggar help the Gorse as he seeks vengeance on Landover through an elaborate scheme to take over the kingdom before allowing it to be destroyed by demons Ben has battled before. Abernathy and Questor suspect, but seem powerless to intervene. Soon the whole kingdom is in uproar and has marched on the castle. Where is Ben? And what of Willow? She has traveled to Earth, on a mission from the Earth Mother, and back into the fairy mists. Her story nearly becomes a back story, though, and I think Brooks falters a little here. Until the birth of the baby, it seems to be an afterthought for much of the book.

I’m not going to give away the ending, but it’s good to see Ben not have to resort to calling the Paladin to save everyone. The ending is abrupt, but satisfying, in my opinion, and leaves an opening for the next book in the series, which I intend to read soon. This book wasn’t as good as the first, and there’s a bit too much Tangle Box here for me to give it five stars, but it’s a good four star effort and worth the read. Recommended.

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A Review of Magic Kingdom For Sale/Sold

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 4, 2013

Magic Kingdom For Sale/Sold (Magic Kingdom of Landover, #1)Magic Kingdom For Sale/Sold by Terry Brooks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a charming book when I read it at its 1986 publication and it remains charming today. I can’t believe I’ve gone so long without rereading this book! It’s lightweight fantasy, an easy read, and one you won’t be able to put down.

Ben Holiday is a well off but disenchanted Chicago lawyer who is trying to find some purpose to his life after his wife and unborn child die in an accident. When he sees an advertisement in a Christmas catalog for a magic kingdom being sold for $1 million, he thinks about it and then jumps at the chance, even though he’s not really convinced it’s real. Well, it is. Landover is a land with fairies, dragons, witches, demons, talking dogs, tree women, and more. Unfortunately, the place is a bit more than Holiday bargains for when he buys the place. They haven’t had a king for 20 years, the place is run down, everyone is at everyone else’s throats, and Ben has to decide if he wants to try and fix the place so that he can rule — and serve — properly. Most he encounters seem to think he might have what it takes, but he won’t survive this mega-demon who will kill him without the aid of the Paladin, the king’s knightly champion, last seen 20 years ago. Well, who appears at times of need throughout the book, but the Paladin, as though Holiday were destined to be king. Of course, once the end of the novel nears, it’s pretty easy to put two and two together and simply anticipate the logical outcome, but I tried not to be too disappointed in that and not knock the book down one star. It’s still a magical book with a lot to offer and for anyone just getting started in the fantasy genre, it’s a good introduction. I prefer Philip K. Dick and sci fi, but I’ll always hold this book up as a fun book to read.

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