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Druidic Intrigue
An Interview with Terry Brooks

conducted by Sandy Auden

© Sandy Auden
Terry Brooks
Terry Brooks
With the publication of Sword of Shannara in 1977, Terry Brooks became one of the most popular authors in the industry. He has published more than 14 consecutive bestselling novels since that first book.

Terry Brooks Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Tanequil
SF Site Review: The Elfstones of Shannara
SF Site Review: Sometimes The Magic Works
SF Site Review: Morgawr
SF Site Review: Ilse Witch
SF Site Review: A Knight of the Word
SF Site Review: Running With The Demon
Del Rey's Terry Brooks Feature Site
Terry Brooks' Landover Tribute Site
Terry Brooks Tribute Site
Terry Brooks Tribute Site

"I'm always in a devious frame of mind," smiles Terry Brooks, as he discusses the scheming politics in his novel Jarka Ruus. "I think most authors are fairly devious anyway. We're manipulating our characters, manipulating our stories, creating things out of thin air, and playing god in a lot of different ways on a very small scale. It's already a part of the craft and it occasionally spills over into the plotting of things too."

Politics in the Third Druid Council play a significant role in Jarka Ruus, the opening volume in Brooks' latest trilogy, High Druid of Shannara. Picking up the events in Grianne Ohmsford's life twenty years after the events of Morgawr, Jarka Ruus follows Grianne as she finds her previous identity as the Ilse Witch has not been forgotten. Distrust and jealousy moves her council members to act viciously and decisively to remove her from power.

Brooks put a lot of thought into all the intrigue to keep it believable. "If you reform a body like the Druid Council -- that's been under a great deal of suspicion for a long period of time -- there would naturally be a lot of personal agendas involved," he says. "Not everybody would be on the same page with what was going to happen. If you put somebody volatile in the leadership position then right away you've got all this potential for back door machinations and behind the scenes planning."

While the council succeed in sending Grianne to another dimension, her assistant, Tagwen, escapes imprisonment. He embarks on a journey, with the help of Grianne's nephew Pen Ohmsford, to find a magical bough from the Tanequil tree and open a way back from her dark destination.

Pen and Tagwen's journey is made even more dangerous by the pursuing Druids, but there's still time for a little romance. Hiring an airship to take them to the tanequil tree, Pen finds love in the shape of Cinnaminson, the airship captain's daughter. "I remember falling in love for the first time," says Brooks. "To this day, it's one of the few things I remember from all that time ago, it was so intense.

"I'm also aware of falling of love with the right person," he continues. "It took me forty two long years to find Judine and I think you're blessed when that happens. I guess I extrapolate from my own experience to write about what that means, but with Pen and Cinnaminson it's doooomed in a terrible way. There is a chance for redemption though, if Pen gets several very hard choices right over the course of the next two volumes."

Meanwhile, Grianne Ohmsford is dealing with her new surroundings, aided by an indigenous creature called Weka Dart. "I enjoy writing characters like Weka Dart," Brooks says. "The first time I wrote about this kind of character was Slanter, the gnome in Wishsong. He was less complicated in his plans for what he was doing, but he was still a complex character. A kind of tragic character in some ways. Weka Dart is kind of cut the same cloth and he's not what he seems at all. He has a big back story that comes to the fore in volume two, Tanequil. We get a superficial view of him in Jarka Ruus, when he becomes Grianne's companion and guide."

Dart is a singularly quirky character. "I'm a big believer that one of the best ways to describe a character is through movement. I'm not big into physical description because that's overdone. So I like to give them characteristics, thinking patterns, things that set them apart. And Weka Dart's crab walk and skittering motion was the result of wanting to use that as a metaphor for the way his mind works."

Jarka Ruus details the adventures of all these characters and more, but what will be happening to them in Tanequil? "Pen Ohmsford is going to finally find the tanequil tree," says Brooks. "And there's going to be twist in his relationship with Cinnaminson. We're going to learn what Grianne Ohmsford's really doing in the other dimension, and we'll meet the person who's pulling all the strings. I'll probably finish the story in the third book but you never know, it may take four volumes."

(This interview first appeared on Sci Fi Channel Europe.)

Copyright © 2005 by Sandy Auden

Sandy Auden is currently working as an enthusiastic reviewer for SFX magazine; a tireless news hound for Starburst magazine; a diligent interviewer/reviewer for The Third Alternative and Interzone magazines and a combination of all the above for The Alien Online. She spends her spare time lying down with a cold flannel on her forehead. Visit her site at The Auden Interviews.

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