Ilse Witch is book 13 in Terry Brook’s long running fantasy series, Shannara. Ilse Witch is also book 1 in the trilogy The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara. Now don’t be making the same mistake I made in thinking that the Jerle Shannara in the title is referring to the first king of Shannara. The Jerle Shannara in the title is actually referring to an airship named after the first king of Shannara. Ilse Witch brings us back to the Shannara world in present time. The book follows Walker Boh and the next generation of Ohmsfords and Leahs, Bek and Quentin.
An elf of some rather importance is washed up onto shore and has been brutally tortured and is half mad. In his hand is a map with some cryptic, ancient writing on it that reveals the treasure is something of great magical powers. A race to get this treasure ensues with Walker and his companions going up against the Ilse Witch and some of her vial creatures.
Walker vows never to be like his predecessor Alanon, but becomes every bit as secretive as him everyday. Maybe it’s a druid thing? Walker knows so much more about Bek than he lets on and that information get slowly revealed to the reader as we read on.
The elfstones are missing yet again but the Sword of Shannara once again resurfaces. Once again it is up to a druid to teach the next generation of its uses. Once again I feel cheated that the main weapon against evil in this series has some flimsy properties. Not only do Terry Brooks and Terry Goodkind share the same first name, their main weapon of choice in their respective series’ has the same properties and no doubt one was named after the other. If you are looking for a Terry Brooks vs. Terry Goodkind vs. Robert Jordan vs. George R.R. Martin debate, look elsewhere because there are people with much stronger opinions on the matter than me. A good book or series is a good book or series in my opinion.
Well it is over 130 years from where the series last left off in Heritage of Shannara, so I guess it MIGHT be possible that airships are now the method of travel instead of mares and horses. Personally I’m not a big fan of the change, but I guess it does go along with the storyline of changing technologies.
I must say, Ilse Witch is pretty darn good. It’s been a while since I read Brooks’s previous books set in Shannara, not counting Word and the Void, but I’m going to come out and say Ilse Witch is Brooks’s best work so far. The one major complaint I have about the book is the cliffhanger at the end of the book. I HATE cliffhangers!! It’s not so bad right now because I have the next book, Antrax, waiting to be read, but I feel the pain of those loyal Terry Brooks fans who have been following the series as each book came out. I’ve said so in previous reviews so I will just echo it here, I sincerely believe that each book, whether part of a larger series or not, should have a satisfactory ending. Excellent excellent book none the less.