So when we ended the last episode, the Warlock Lord had been dead for 500 years, and peace had descended on the four Lands, like a giant, comfy blanket. So why is the Druid Allanon looking for a child of Shannara?
Well, it turns out the Warlock Lord didn’t die. Which leads us to the first book, Sword of Shannara. It took 500 years, but Brona has finally pulled himself back together, more or less, and is starting some crap again. This crap wakes up Allanon, now the last remaining druid, from the Druid sleep, the mechanism that allows him to live so long.
Allanon takes a trip to the North, to the Skull Kingdom, Brona’s hometown, and discovers the Warlock Lord is very much around, and that he is gathering his forces to take another stab at that whole world domination thing.
Brona has the same info as Allanon, when it comes to the House of Shannara, and sends some of his minions, called skull bearers, to kill the remaining descendants of the King who the sword was made for, Jerle Shannara. It seems that only those who have the blood of Shannara coursing through their veins, however little it might be, can wield the sword.
Allanon finds out too late and can’t save any of them. Luckily he discovers one descendent was missed, a half elf named Shea, living in a community called Shady Vale with his adoptive family.
On to Plan B
Our intrepid druid makes a b-line for the Vale, hoping to arrive before Brona and his horde discover their clerical error. Once there he finds not only Shea, but his adoptive brother Flick.
The two are inseparable, so after a history lesson from Allanon on the true history of the world, he takes off, leaving with Shea 3 blue elfstones and the warning them to skedaddle if they see the sign of the skull.
A few weeks later they do indeed see the sign of the skull, on a skull bearer, and take off, not wanting to bring death and destruction to their sleepy little hamlet. They journey to the Kingdom of Leah, where they meet up with the prince of Leah, Menion.
There Can Be Only One!
The royalty of Leah are big fans of random adventures, as you find out in many of the books they appear in, so being bored, Menion decides to go on the journey with the valemen to offer protection, and to hopefully have an adventure.
The three friends travel to Culhaven, a dwarven city in the eastland, and there meet up with Allanon and some new friends, Balinor Buckhannah, prince of Callahorn, a southland human city, two elven brothers, Durin and Dayel Elessedil, and the dwarf Hendel.
Now that they have their “fellowship” the real adventure can start. The Sword of Shannara, the only weapon that can kill the Warlock Lord is kept safe in the Druid keep, called Paranor.
Unfortunately on the way to Paranor Shea falls over a waterfall, becoming separated from the rest of the group. Allanon uses some Druid magic to determine Shea is alive and well, which convinces the rest of the group to continue on to Paranor to retrieve the sword.
Sadly for our merry band, the Warlock Lord, being a former Druid and all round bad, bad, man, also knew the Sword was at Paranor, and sent some of his muscle: a Skull Bearer and a detachment of his northern army.
The Old Bait and Switch
After the battle they discover that the Sword was taken by the gnome Orl Fane, who is driven mad by the power of the sword, which leads him North to the waiting Warlock Lord, who has begun his assault on the four lands by attacking the Southland.
The remainder of the group decide to split up, part of the company goes with Allanon to invade the Warlock Lord’s camp, hoping to rescue Shea. Flick, disguised by Allanon sneaks through the camp to a tent that holds an elven prisoner. Upon freeing the man, we discover it is actually Eventine Ellessedil, king of the Elves. Saving Eventine allows the elves to join the fight later. The other members of the company head to Tyrsis, capital of Callahorn to activate the Border Legion, which Balinor commands.
Of course, once they arrive they find they have been betrayed. The Border Legion has been disbanded, and Balinor’s brother Palance, has assumed the throne of the country. Palance is being manipulated by Stenmin, an agent of the Warlock Lord, who eventually kills Palance, and runs.
Balinor, with no time to mourn his fallen brother, reforms the Border Legion and sets about kicking northland army ass.
Now, let me just say, other than the weapons master who shows up in a later book, Balinor and the Border Legion are probably my favorite non-magic characters in all of the Shannara Books.
While I don’t think that there is a ton you miss by skipping this book and going right to Elfstones, one of the bigs ones are the border legion, Balinor, and Keltset.
Who’s Keltset you ask? One sec, we’ll get to him. But First the Border Legion.
Now reformed and commanded by Balinor, the most beloved member of the royal family ever, they were spoiling for a fight, and a fight they got. The Northland Army, vast and endless crashed against the city like a black wave, only to be pushed back time and again by the Legion, led by Balinor.
If At First You Don't Succeed...
Time and again they attacked, and time and again they were repulsed by the brave men and women of the Legion. The legion is steadily forced back from one line to another, but always when they chose and only after inflicting heavy casualties to the enemy.
Eventually they are forced back to the city of Tyrsis, where they make their stand.
The northern army begins a brutal siege, but the defenders keep them at bay. Eventually brave defenders are betrayed from within, which is the only reason that the walls of Tyrsis were breached.
What About our HERO!?
So, Shea. Last we saw him he was doing the niagara falls thing without a barrel. He loses consciousness and finds himself captured by gnomes. After some quality time with his new gnome friends, Shea is rescued by a one handed thief named Panamon Creel, and his buddy Keltset Mallicos, the rock troll.
Shea’s new friends decide to travel with him to the Skull Kingdom, home of the Warlock Lord, where they find Skull Mountain, and within it the Warlock Lord and the Sword. Shea wrestles the sword away from the now insane Orl Fane and is confronted by its power.
It All Comes Down To This
It is at this moment that we discover why Jerle Shannara wasn’t able to finish the Warlock Lord 5 centuries ago. The Sword has a single power, it dispels lies, and forces you to accept the truth. For Shea that was that he was a weak, sometimes selfish, sometimes petty person.
While at first this was soul crushing, Shea saw the truth. Of course he was, he was a mortal being. He wasn’t perfect, and he needed others to help him get through, sometimes ending with their lives being lost. The sword revealed his true nature, and Shea accepted it, allowing him to fully command the swords power.
Triumph of the Little Guy
His ancestor was raised to see himself as powerful, capable and noble. He was a prince and later king. Having that stripped away from him, even knowing it was coming, scared him and the scared, he fell back on using the sword as a blunt instrument. It hurt the Warlock Lord, but couldn’t kill him, since Jerle hadn’t become the Swords master.
Shea was able to do this, so when he was confronted with the Warlock Lord, he used the weapon as intended. He forced the Warlock Lord to cease hiding behind the lie that he was immortal. That he lasted forever. In reality he had been dead for centuries, all that remained was a hollow reflection of the man he once was.
When this deception was lifted and the truth brought into the light of the Sword, Brona ceased to exist.
Without the magic of the Warlock Lord to sustain it, Skull Mountain began to fall, leading to the sacrifice of Keltset. With his immense strength, both of body and character, he literally held up the ceiling of the cavern they were in, allowing Panamon and Shea to escape.
And They All lived Happily Ever After
When the Warlock Lord is destroyed, the northern army loses its will to fight, since it was being driven by his magic. They basically turn tail and run. Allanon journeys into the Northland looking for Shea, saving his life. While Shea is recovering Allanon reveals that he is the son of Bremen, the druid who made the Sword of Shannara, and that he is centuries old.
Allanon apologizes for manipulating Shea, for not telling him about the Sword, but given the failure of Jerle, with full knowledge of how the sword worked, he was convinced that the only way for it all to work out was for Shea to learn of the Sword’s power and purpose on his own.
Allanon leaves to go and enter into the druid sleep, to heal and recharge his magic. Life returns to normal and the world returns to a state of peace and tranquility.
For a while.