A Knight of the Word
Book review: Zoey Tsoura
I continue my journey in the fictional world of beloved author Terry Brooks, with the second part of the trilogy The Word and the Void, which is the chronological beginning of the Shannara saga.
A Knight of the Word takes place five years after the events of Running with the Demon, and this time we leave the little town of Hopewell, Illinois, behind and travel to the rainy city of Seattle, during the last days of October.
John Ross, broken by his spectacular defeats in his fight against the Void, has given up his mission, renounced his title, and is now trying to lead a normal life in Seattle, working at a homeless shelter and sharing an apartment with the woman he loves.
Nest Freemark is now nineteen years old. Without her grandparents and her friends, her childhood is over, and now she must decide what course she’ll take in her life. Should she sell the house and leave without ever looking back, abandoning her role as the protector of Sinnissippi Park in order to dedicate herself to her college studies? Or should she accept her identity and her magic and keep helping Pick maintain the magic balance in the Park?
Both heroes are at a pivotal point in their lives. What John Ross doesn’t know is that the Void intends to corrupt him and lure him to its side, sending one of its most devious demons to see this mission through. On the other hand, the Word recruits Nest and sends her to Seattle to convince John Ross to return to its side before it’s too late. This time, Nest is assisted by a tatterdemalion named Ariel: an ethereal, fairy-like little girl born from the memories of dead children.
This book gave me exactly what I asked for when I finished the previous one: John Ross’s growth as a character. It delves deeper into his pain and disappointment, into the internal battle against his guilt over his shortcomings, into the difficult time he’s always had to accept his Knighthood. He appears so human now, so real, that it was impossible for me not to finally like him. I was anxiously following the Word and the Void’s game of chess as they moved their pawns on the board in a race against time over which side John Ross would finally choose, like another Anakin Skywalker. Once again, Nest finds herself in the middle of this conflict, while at the same time growing up herself and making her own choices about her life.
The book maintains the same pace as Running with the Demon: slowly at first, letting us become familiar with the place and characters, and then the action begins and everything comes together perfectly. This time the demon is even more cunning and more powerful than the last one. In this book, I also enjoyed having homelessness as a main theme, a problem whose many facets are explored through the characters, as well as the parallel between those who have lost their shelter in the physical sense, and those who have lost their shelter in their heart, like John Ross has.
I can’t wait to read and present to you Angel Fire East, the third and last part of the trilogy that concludes John and Nest’s story.
You can be homeless in different ways. You can be homeless like those of my people you see here, living on the streets, surviving on handouts, marking time between the seasons. But you can be homeless in your heart, too. You can be empty inside yourself because you have no spiritual center. You can wander through life without any real sense of who you are or where you belong. You can exist without purpose or cause. […] A building is a home if the people who inhabit it have memories and love and a place in the world. Otherwise, it is just a building, a shelter against the elements, and it can never be anything more.
Back cover synopsis: Five years have passed since the cataclysmic events of Running With the Demon. John Ross, Knight of the Word, sworn to fight the eternal battle against mankind’s demons, has moved on. Ross’s years spent in the fight against the Void have taken their toll. He has lost his spirit, his belief and now it seems he has lost his magic. Working in a hostel for homeless children, his life is now spent fighting a battle in which he feels he might actually make a difference. But Nest Freemark, whose involvement in those events five years ago shattered her childhood, is about to be drawn once more into the mythic world of the Void and the Word. For she has learnt that John Ross is in great danger from a demon like no other. If she can not warn him in time – and persuade him to take up his staff of magic once more – the battle may be lost forever. . .
Edition used for this review:
Title: The Word and the Void Omnibus (contains Running with the Demon, A Knight of the Word, Angel Fire East)
Author: Terry Brooks
First Published: 2003
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Image maker: Panagiota Goutzourela