Prior to reading Bearers of the Black Staff, I had not realized that his Shannara and Knight of the Word series were interconnected. One of the things that I especially liked about this novel is the way that Brooks presented the backstory that linked the stories following the time that Hawk, the Gypsy Morph delivered his people into the valley that had been protected by magical barriers, which are now down. The valley for the first time in five hundred years, exposed to the people and creatures that have survived the Great Wars. To make matters worse a troll army learns about them and is planning on invading.
Sider Ament, the last of the Knights of the Word, protects the valley with his magical staff. He is the first to realize that the protective barriers are down. He encounters two young trackers, Panterra Qu and Prue Liss, who are attacked by a couple of the creatures from the outside world. Sider Ament is there to protect them. Together they must warn the people of the valley. A common theme in Brooks' novels, the people they are trying to warn don't readily heed their advice. Absorbed in self-interest, greed and their own personal agenda, even those within the groups they are trying to protect thwart Sider, Panterra and Prue.
Reading Bearers of the Black Staff reminds me of why Terry Brooks is my favorite fantasy author. Reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series gives me a greater appreciation of Brooks. His story telling skills are top notch. His pace is excellent. Whereas Jordan is bloated and long-winded, Brooks doesn't waste time and words. Everything he writes adds to the plot, develops characters, or provides valuable backstory information that the reader needs. A very well written start to the Legends of Shannara series, and a book well worth reading.
Carl Alves - author of Blood Street