Genesis of Shannara: Armageddon’s Children
Written By: Terry Brooks
Published By: Del Rey
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
Ever since I first decided to pick up literature without being told to do so by a teacher or parent, there was one book series that epitomized good fantasy writing for me. That series is Terry Brooks’ Shannara series. In fact the only other series that I think enjoyed quite as much as the long running Shannara series was Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and the Demon series by—none other than—Terry Brooks. And while I was and am a big fan of the Shannara books, I was admittedly a little fed up with the repetitiveness of the series—and after thirty years, who could blame him for repeating himself. However, when I heard that this latest trilogy of books combined the Demon and the Shannara series, I could not wait to get my hands on them. When I found out that this series promised to answer the one question I’d been dying to learn since the first book—whether this mythical world was supposed to have spawned from our own world—I put all other books aside and focused my attention on Genesis of Shannara.
Armageddon’s Children follows a Knight of the Word named Logan Tom, a survivor turned demon fighter in a post-apocalyptic Earth; an Earth in which the worst of our nightmares about war and nuclear bombs has come true. This destruction was supplemented and aggravated by the demons and their horde of once-men (former humans who have lost their humanity thus became something else). He is guided from death camp to death camp, fighting one monster or another, by the whim of the Word—the overall force of goodness in the world—but what he’s really after is the demon that destroyed his family when he was young—someone whose name readers of the Demon series will find very familiar. So when he’s given a special mission by the Word to find a young man with hidden magical powers and told that this mission will lead him to the demon of his past, Logan sets forth to find the rarest of magical beings, a creature known as a gypsy morph.
Simultaneously, the story follows a group of young displaced orphans/street gang, dubbed the Ghosts. The Ghosts are led by an enigmatic youth named Hawk, who has a dream—a vision—of himself leading his custom-made family into a promise land. The only thing keeping him from going off to seek this land is the love of a girl named Tessa who lives inside one of the few remaining human cities—or compounds—left in the world. Compounds just like that one have been systematically attacked and destroyed by demons and once-men, and its populace enslaved for sadistic experiments, but no one ever tries to leave these compounds until its too late. Hawk tries desperately to get Tessa to leave with him, but despite her love for him, she refuses and so they continue to meet in secret, each split between two worlds that neither can leave even for the sake of the other. All of this changes, however, when a new threat to the street gangs emerge and Hawk finally decides it’s time to seek out his vision with or without Tessa. Logan and Hawk’s path eventually cross, but it might come too late for both of them—for the entire world.
There are other stories within this first book as well. Stories of other Knights as well as Elves, but the heart of this first installment remains with Logan and Hawk. Overall, I found the book to be thoroughly enjoyable and a nice blend of the author’s two styles of storytelling. Unfortunately, I must disagree with the jacket of the book that claims Mr. Brooks seamlessly crosses the two series together, because it just isn’t so. This first installment, while brilliant and intriguing, reads more like a group of separate stories that have yet to interact. The majority of the seamless merging, I suspect, will occur in the latter two installments of the trilogy, but for now that mixture was absent. It was more like the Demon series books than it was like the Shannara books, which was fine by me considering this series is supposed to explain to origins of Shannara. I did take slight exception to one Knight’s shocked reaction at learning of the existence of Elves considering the Knight has fought magical demons and transformed humans for several years by that point. Other than that I truly loved the book and will continue to read with baited breath the reminder of the series. Thank you, Mr. Brooks.