The Elfstones of Shannara is an epic fantasy novel by Terry Brooks. It is the first sequel to The Sword of Shannara and the second book in The Original Shannara Trilogy. It provides the history of the Elves, which was only hinted at in the preceding story, and follows Wil Ohmsford, grandson of Shea (the hero of the first book) and inheritor of the Elfstones.
The novel intertwines two plotlines: the quest of Wil Ohmsford and Amberle Elessedil to find Safehold and create a new Ellcrys, and the attempt by the Elven army and their allies to slow the Demons to give them time to find it.
Before the dawn of mankind was the age of Faerie, an era from which many powerful spirits (such as the King of the Silver River) came. The Elves, extremely long-lived and possessing great magic, created the Elfstones. However, as a necessary balance to the light, darkness was also created in the beginning of time; from this darkness the Demons were born. After years of battle between the light and the dark, the Elves summoned their greatest magic and created the Forbidding, a spell that imprisoned the Demons beyond the confines of the world. They also created the Ellcrys, a beautiful silver tree with crimson leaves to maintain the Forbidding. Unfortunately, this drained nearly all the strength of the Elves, leaving them with very little magic. Most of the creatures of Faerie died out in this period of waning magic; yet the Elves survived, though diminished in splendor. In time, they came to resemble more and more the human race that had recently evolved, both in strength and longevity. Afraid of the rapidly multiplying humans, Elves went into hiding, remaining one with nature, ever guarding the Ellcrys. Even when mankind nearly destroyed the world in the Great Wars, the Elves lived on, spending their last remaining magic to save the Ellcrys. In the aftermath of the destruction, as mankind split into four distinct races, the Elves took that opportunity to come out from hiding. Indeed, most believed that the Elves were just another offshoot of mankind, like the Dwarves, Gnomes and Trolls. The Elves emerged as leaders in the new world; it was the Elf Galaphile who summoned the first Druid council at Paranor.
The magical Ellcrys tree was beginning to die, thus weakening the spell that held the Forbidding. The Ellcrys spoke to the Chosen, telling them of a rebirth, a process which enables a new Ellcrys to be born--but this can only be done at the fountain of the Bloodfire. The Chosen then informs their Prince Ander Elessedil and King Eventine Elessedil of the matter. However, there is no one who knows of the location of the Bloodfire. A search in the ancient Elven library reveals one reference to the Bloodfire. It states that it lies in a place named "Safehold". At the same time, a powerful Demon, the Dagda Mor, escapes from the waning Forbidding, bringing with it the Reaper and the Changeling. The Dagda Mor then sends the Reaper to kill all the Chosen. Eventine finds himself at a loss, for only the Chosen can make the rebirth of the Ellcrys happen.
He retreated to Storlock for a time, and then went to Havenstead with Wil Ohmsford--who is a Healer, a descendant of Jerle Shannara and bearer of the Elfstones--to find Amberle Elessedil, who is King Eventine's granddaughter and a Chosen, who abandoned her duty to the Ellcrys and fled the Elven capital, Arborlon. She eventually agreed to return to Arborlon with them, only giving in when Demon Wolves were closing in upon them.
After they journeyed by boat to the Elven outpost at Drey Wood, however, the group found the entire garrison that had been stationed at the outpost dead--and the Reaper, who had killed all of them. They managed to escape by setting off down the river once more, but two of the Elven guards were ran down and killed in the process. The party then goes to the Matted Brakes, where another two of the group are killed by a unknown massive creature. After escaping from the Brakes, the remaining group of five found themselves at an ancient Elven fortress named Pykon. The group made the decision to rest the night there, but the Reaper found them again and killed the final two Elven hunters. Wil and Amberle ran into the network of tunnels inside of the Pykon to try to find Crispin, who had gone into there to try to find a way out. Wil and Amberle finally lost the Reaper by destroying a bridge over a gorge, but they lost Crispin as well. The duo met the young Wing Rider Perk soon after, who agreed to take them into the Wilderun on his Roc, Genewen.
After the Witch Sisters fought and killed each other, Wil, Eretria, Hebel, and Drifter escaped with Amberle, the Elfstones, and Mallenroh's servant, Wisp; who brings them to the Bloodfire. Amberle absorbs both the Bloodfire and the seed of the Ellcrys. The Reaper attacks them and kills Wisp, but Wil destroyed him by focusing the power of the Elfstones upon his cloaked face. Wil had Amberle call Perk, who brought Wil, Amberle and Eretria back to Arborlon.
By this point, the Demons had begun a full frontal assault upon Arborlon. Despite desperate attempts to blunt the attacks, the seven gates fell one by one to the superior numbers of the Demons. The Demons eventually broke through the last of the Elven capital's major defenses (the seventh gate). At this point, Allanon engaged and defeated the Dagda Mor in a titanic battle while the forces of "good", now severely depleted, regrouped at their last line of defense: the Gardens of Life, where the Ellcrys resided. The Demons tried to reach the Ellcrys to destroy her, but they were held back by those forces of "good" just long enough so that Wil and Amberle could fly in. Amberle touched the dead Ellcrys and was transformed into the new Ellcrys; and with this action, Amberle restored the Forbidding, banishing the Demons back to their alternate universe.
|The first mass-market paperback edition that was released in 1983 in the United States by Del Rey Books. The artwork was done by Steve Stone.||A hardcover edition released in 2006 in the United Kingdom by Orbit Books' "young adult imprint Atom.|