I feel like reading this after having read the entire Word & Void trilogy is what people who read Go Set A Watchmen after having loved and read To Kill A Mockingbird. (On a smaller scale, obviously.)
Brooks wrote this novel back in the early ’90s as part of a short story collection. It was re-released as a single e-book in honor of a friend who had cancer with all proceeds for the first 90 days of sale going to that friend for his medical bills.
I’m glad I read this novella/short story as it was a great little encapsulated tale which shows one of the magical characters, Pick, of Word & Void fame, at an earlier time than the actual trilogy. The story revolves around 12-year-old Jack McCall who is given a cancer diagnosis. And in essence it serves as an exterior battle/response to that diagnosis.
And just like that I’m done with my first foray into Terry Brooks’ World of Shannara. I’m not totally finished as I recently stumbled across a short story, Imaginary Friends, which is technically Word & Void #0.5 so there’s one small story left! I’ll read it in less than an hour and that’ll be the next post later this week.
As far as conclusions go, this was a pretty good end to the story that spanned three books, fifteen years and roughly 9-12 actual days of action in the books. I didn’t pay attention to it in the first two books, but each of these books takes place in less than five days from start to finish. There are plenty of flashbacks and quite a few jumps ahead, but overwhelmingly the entire action of the story takes place in less than a week. Each of these books really are examples of the minuscule moments which can change the world for good (the Word) or for evil (the Void).
Picking up five years after the action in Running with the Demon, A Knight of the Word takes off at a fast pace and keeps going. If you could skip the first book of the Word & Void trilogy I would recommend it. This one was a huge step forward and I think the 80 fewer pages in this book were all description from the first book, making this one better. I mean you should read both, but know if you make it through the first one, you’ve got this great one to look forward to!
I wasn’t sure how I would like this book with the five years between the two stories and taking the action away from Nest and putting it solely on John Ross. Brooks didn’t let me down though, the story moved quickly to include Nest. It was a bit sad hearing about everything that happened since the end of Running with the Demon, but it was great to be back in the world again so quickly.
Talk about coincidence! I planned to read the Word & Void trilogy early this year as it’s been on my shelf for far too long and a coworker from my last job (3+ years ago) recommended it. Add that we recently started to watch The Shannara Chronicles (IMDB link) and my interest in Brooks’ work increased. So when I started reading this and found out it’s a distant part of the Shannara universe my mind was blown!
I asked advice on whether to even consider the Shannara super-series and I find out I’ve backed myself into it inadvertently. Again, Mind. Blown. Although this is the eleventh book published connected to Shannara, it is the first in story chronology. I have no idea how many I will read, but I will most definitely finish out this trilogy as I was sucked in within the first few pages!
DAMN you Mormons and your great Science Fiction/Fantasy! That’s about 25% fact and 75% unadulterated conjecture. Before I go into that (you can skip the next two paragraphs if you’re not interested), funny story: I kept thinking of this as some weird hybrid of the story as it happened and The Emperor’s New Clothes. My mind is weird.
Now, Mormons. Seriously though, why does it seem like there are so many Mormon’s who tell great stories in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genres: Jeff Wheeler, Orson Scott Card, Stephenie Meyer (cough*story teller, still not a great writer*cough) and now Brandon Sanderson. I’m not the first to ponder this (Boston Globe link)and I know I won’t be the last. I know for me it raises a big dilemma of ethics/politics when I chose to read an author who actively believes/participates in a religion which negates/actively works against something I identify with. Do I purchase their novels and have my, what ultimately ends up being fractions of pennies, support their religion through tithing, or do I boycott the author because of their churches stance?
This series has finally slowed down. This isn’t a detraction, just a statement. Picking up more than 14 years after the end of Something Rotten, First Among Sequels just didn’t feel quite the same. Don’t get me wrong, there was absurdity, Fforde’s genius pushes the boundaries and Thursday Next is still a great character, but it just wasn’t the same.
As I mentioned in my post about Something Rotten I found out after I’d started this novel that the last three of the published novels in the Thursday Next series are actually a second series and not the same. It’s a little misleading as websites like Goodreads and Amazon group them together. There’s even a compendium of the first five: A Thursday Next Digital Collection: Novels 1-5 (Amazon Link). If I would’ve known about the time gap and the “separate series” portion I would’ve paused after book four instead of five, but oh well.
Just when you think it can’t get any stranger, Jasper Fforde makes sure to let you know it can and it will:
“The fate of all life on this beautiful planet decided on the swing of a croquet mallet.” (351)
I mean COME ON! Anyone who can turn croquet into a full-contact sport and make me want to watch it has to be a genius right?
I also can’t believe it took me until almost 12 hours later to finally connect the title to most of the story, as in hey this story has a lot about Hamlet in it and the quote “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” even appears! Thanks Fforde for reminding me I’m just another cog in the human machine. Epic fail on my part.