Dark magic has opened a gateway to the Forbidding and trapped within it Grianne Ohmsford, rightful High Druid of Shannara. Rescuing Grianne will be merely the beginning of the effort to return the Four Lands to some semblance of peace. Only her young nephew, Penderrin, has any hope of returning her to power. But to breach the Forbidding and bring Grianne back to the natural world, Pen must find the fabled Tanequil . . . and the talisman it alone can provide. That means journeying into the Inkrim–a dreaded region thick with shadows and haunted by harrowing legends. And there, Pen will strike a bargain more dire than he could ever imagine.
Make a wish on an Elfstone and anything can happen, including a fresh second installment (after 2003's Jarka Russ) in Brooks's bestselling High Druid fantasy trilogy, part of the long-running Shannara series whose magic has been showing signs of wear. As the Free-born Federation war continues in the Four Lands, life is packed with peril for the Ohmsford family. While High Druid Grianne Ohmsford languishes in the Forbidding, a demon tracks her gifted nephew, Pen, with orders to kill him from the Druid responsible for her banishment, the evil Shadea a'Ru. Young Pen and his followers perky Elven Elfstone carrier Khyber, grumpy dwarf Tagwen, blind Rover girl Cinnaminson and helpful Rock Trolls seek the tanequil, a mysterious tree from which a "darkwand" must be formed that will aid Pen in rescuing his aunt from the Forbidding. Pen's parents, Bek and Rue, are also ensnared by Shadea, an uneasy ally of Sen Dunsidan, the Federation's prime minister. New readers may feel a little disoriented by unfamiliar references, but Brooks's efficient pacing, skillful characterizations and suspenseful plotting all bode well for the trilogy's conclusion. Anne Sibbald at Janklow & Nesbit.