Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Dark Wraith of Shannara

This is author Terry Brooks' first foray into the world of graphic novels, which is a fancy way of saying a big comic book. Wraith is a 160 page illustrated adventure which takes place in the fantasy world of Shannara, the setting for 16 prose novels so far.
The story is a sequel to Brooks' novella Indomitable, which is itself a sequel to the novel The Wishsong of Shannara. I've read Indomitable, though not Wishsong. Doesn't really matter. The story is self contained and you're given all the necessary information.
After a quick refresher on the end of Indomitable and a quick bit of character exposition, young Jair Omsford is visited by the ghost of the druid Allanon, who warns him that some of his friends are in danger. Kimber and Cogline, two characters from Indomitable have been kidnapped by the lizard men Mwellrets and their ally the Croton Witch. They plan to use Cogline's knowledge of druid magic to open the druid citadel Paranor and use the secrets of the druids to take over the world. Jair sets out to stop them before its too late.
This sounds like a pretty standard Shannara plot and according to the afterward in the book, Brooks plotted the graphic novel before handing it off to writer Robert Place Napton to be broken down into comics form. After the art was in, Terry did a final bit of rewrite and edit.
There are a couple of savvy bits of marketing here. The artwork and packaging are designed to look as much like a manga (Japanese comic) as possible. A very good way to attract young readers to the book. Plus, the first chapter to Wishsong of Shannara is included in the back of the graphic novel, which I'm sure the publishers hope will draw new readers to the novels.
All and all I found Dark Wraith of Shannara to be a fun book. One that fits in well with the existing series and a well told fantasy story all by itself. I'd certainly read more Shannara graphic novels.

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