August ASK TERRY Posted

terry-brooksFor many years the only chance a fan had of speaking to Terry was to meet him at tour events or conventions.

With the establishment of this website in 2000, Terry began accepting two questions from each fan per month. On the last day of the month, five questions are randomly drawn. Terry answers these five questions and they are posted monthly for your enjoyment.

Below are the questions selected last month and Terry’s answers! Enjoy!

Note: This section may contain spoilers!

Greetings and Salutations, One & All,

Guess summer is over, although you wouldn’t know it in the Pacific NW. Here the trees have barely begun to show color. The sun is shining, the temps are temperate – 60s and 70s – spirits are high and authors are just writing up a storm. Unfortunately, regarding the latter, much work is needed. A book to be written and ten Shannara TV episodes to be reviewed and a Landover movie script in yet another rewrite.

Wonder what retirement is like?

Les Ledbetter writes: Hi, I have seen comments from Terry where he mentions writing a final Shannara trilogy to wrap it up, a final Landover book to wrap it up, a book or another trilogy on black staff bearers (pre-history), and possibly a completely new series. With all that is going on with TV show, movies, etc., does Terry really believe that he can complete all of this by writing/publishing one book per year (along with a short story occasionally)? Please let me know if I have misunderstood something.

Terry Brooks replies: I can if I live forever! Oh, ye of so little faith! Some of what you write is true, some false and some maybe, maybe not. To delineate: I will write the closing trilogy to the Shannara series but not right away. Other things take precedence and I need to think about it a little more. I want to write a sequel to Princess of Landover, but only if the movie gets made. Still waiting on that. Oh, I might break down and write it anyway. I do have plans for more books in the pre-history of Shannara. Will get to them when I can. Am working now on Episodes for the Shannara TV show and will continue doing so through Thanksgiving. Am also working with the powers that be on the screenplay for Magic K. A lot to do in the coming year. I’ll probably be looking for something else to do by 2016!

Shane Smith writes: For years I read and followed your books I love them and have reread many of them multiple times. The last few books and especially the most recent one you have broke the morally strong ethics of your books. Putting a 15 yrs old in a situation to be tortured naked really cast a downer on your writing. Why have you gone this direction?

Terry Brooks replies: This book seems to be a problem for people. All I can think is that people aren’t reading the book all the way through but are stopping with the “torture scenes.” No one actually gets tortured. It seems to one character that she does, but it is all an illusion. You could argue that an illusion of torture is as bad as it actually happening, but let’s start there. What happens is that a witch is attempting to subvert a young girl’s mind to trick her into doing something very bad. I would never actually torture a child as part of a plotline. But admittedly it might feel as if that is what I am doing if you stopped reading halfway through. It’s pretty intense stuff. While it is tame compare to a lot of what is being written today, it does differ markedly from other Brooks books. Some of that is because I am not writing the same kind of book I was even 15 years ago, let alone 35. Writers change as they grow older, and I felt this was a book I wanted to write. As a writer, you first obligation is to yourself. So maybe this is one of those books that just isn’t for you and some others, as well. I certainly understand. I doubt I will write one like it again. It was meant as a one off. Maybe you will like the next one better. Sorry you were so disturbed.

Shane Norman writes: Does the King of the Silver River have a master plan? Perhaps there is some hidden agenda behind all of the assistance he has provided throughout the series? Have we allowed ourselves to be mislead by his kind gestures?

Terry Brooks replies: No. He is one of the good guys, a creature out of Faerie and a kindred spirit to the Word. His only task is to do what he can to preserve the Silver River country and the things that dwell there.

Damien Kortum writes: Hello, Mr. Brooks. I’ve read your recent Shannara entry and I have just a quick question for you — how was the Stiehl recovered? Last we saw the deadly blade, it had (presumably) fallen into the Tanequil pit with Aphasia Wye. I would really like to know how it was recovered and stored again among the Druid artifacts. I feel like that must be an interesting story.

Terry Brooks replies: Sharp eyes there, Damien. You are right. It would make a good story. Now if only we can find someone to write it.

Ashley writes: I’m a little confused as to how in the Dark Legacy of Shannara there is a book featuring a full list of Chosen that had become the Ellcrys when in Elfstones it was clearly stated that this was the first time the Ellcrys needed to be reborn. Could you explain that a little bit please?

Terry Brooks replies: You probably think I can’t explain this one away. But in fact I can. It’s really quite simple. The belief at the time of Elfstones was that the Ellcrys couldn’t die. This was because it had survived for a very long time and everyone forgot there were others before. The records were put away and mostly forgotten, many of them misplaced or lost. This was why it took Aphenglow so long to find out the truth. She had to cull through a lot of history and journal writing to get to the truth. But once she had done so, the truth came out. The legend of the Ellcrys having perpetual life was revealed to be false. The lifetimes of the various trees differed considerably. But for the most part, the individual trees all lived over a thousand years, excluding Amberle from Elfstones who came close.

So for now, back to work on all those projects I have claimed I would complete. Go something to prove here. Les Ledbetter will watching like a hawk!

See you next month,

Please completely fill in the form below and send the two questions you want to ask Terry this month.

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11 responses to “August ASK TERRY Posted”

  1. I was just reading through the August Ask Terry Q&A and noticed that Terry said he will be writing a trilogy to wrap the Shannara series. For some reason, I was under the impression that the 3 stand-alone novels he’s currently writing would be it. Does this mean we can expect another 3 novels in addition to the 2 currently in the works?

    • No, the 3 stand alones are not the final trilogy. There are five Shannara books yet to come. The Darkling Child publishes in 2015. The third Defenders book publishes in 2016. And the final trilogy may start publishing in 2017.

  2. I am in thorough disagreement with Shane Smith. The idea that The Defenders of Shannara has taken a dive in ethics, as Mr Brooks points out, can only be seen as unethical if one fails to read the whole book. The first thing to understand is that the purpose of fantasy, in a big way, is to help us understand what evil we are capable of as human beings – and then counter that evil with a recognition of how good we can be. The idea that it’s unethical to show a bad person acting badly even when the narrative unquestionably takes sides against the evil nature of the action is to entirely miss the point of having narratives about human nature in a fantasy setting. Even if the torture were literal, provided that it has a clear narrative purpose and is clearly condemned by the writer, then there is no way to see it as a lapse in the writer’s ethics. It’s a lapse in the ethics of the evil characters who engage in such behavior, and that is how it’s portrayed. This is also completely ignoring the role that the torture has in bringing out the strength of the character in question. It’s painful to read, but it should be, and it shows what strength of character, what power resides in the individual. Missing that is, in my view, poor reading. On another related note, to portray evil on a more personal scale is always going to seem worse because in big epic narratives the evil acts blend in. Is it any less evil to destroy a whole city of innocent people than to torture one person? No, but that happens in early Brooks novels. The point is, when the scale of narrative is smaller, the evil done to the individual will look worse because Arcannon is just as evil as Brona, but much smaller of a figure in terms of power and influence. The novel follows the logic of its genre and purpose perfectly, in my view.

    • I would agree with you, since no where does it show or say that it was a good thing to do. Evil people do evil things, and just because it shows more what they do up closer doesn’t mean that it magically turns them into good guys. Granted, you definitely don’t need to show bad things, one after another constantly, just to throw them in there. I’m pretty sure this is the gist of what you were saying, but I decided to throw it into fewer words for some people. Just in case. 🙂

      If I misunderstood anything, please don’t hesitate to correct me. I don’t want to leave anybody with the wrong impression.

      • We’re on the same page. I agree that egregious acts of evil shouldn’t be just “thrown in” for funzies – that seems more like a grimdark version of fantasy, which Terry doesn’t write. The evil here has a very clear narrative purpose; it’s not just there for shock value. If it were, then I’d agree with the criticism, but I just don’t think it is.

  3. I completely agree that Shane Smith is disturbed for no reason, and I sure hope people like that don’t influence your future writings, Terry!! That book was amazing, and I’d love to read more just like it.

    • Im going to defend Shane, since everyone else is dismissing his opinions entirely.

      I understand exactly what he is talking about. Ive noticed that the Shannara novels have been taking an increasingly dark and amoral path for the last several years. The early novels just seemed more light and fun despite the presence of evil being just as strong as in the newer novels.

      Given Terry’s stated plan for the evolution of the world of Shannara involves the ever shifting balance from Magic back to Science (which is what destroyed the Old World to begin with) I would expect the novels to increase in the “dark and gritty” atmosphere. Yes, I too was disturbed by the illusion of the naked torture of a 15 year old girl. Maybe the series is evolving with the author’s outlook on life. It should. Maybe it is reflecting the world around us. It should. Maybe its just all part of the author’s grand plan. I tend to think it is.

  4. Hi everyone. This is Damien Kortum — I posted the question above regarding the Stiehl. I was most pleased to see that Mr. Brooks chose to answer it, but…hmm. He didn’t actually answer it. Unless he did? Can we assume that this story will be told in the future? I am a huge Shannara fan, but a very, very small part of me feels like this is a bit of a cheat.

    The Stiehl is one of the coolest, darkest talismans in Shannara history; I suppose that’s why this is bugging me.

    • It won’t be answered. When I edited the book, I told Terry he had to address how the Stiehl found its way back to the light. He didn’t have an answer then. Needless to say, it could be as simple as a Druid addressing Mother Tanequil and requesting the blade back — and the tree giving it back.

      • here’s another possibility, when Grianne Ohmsford traded herself to the Tanequil in exchange for Cinnaminson at the end of the High Druid trilogy, maybe the blade was also part of that exchange.

      • I never worried for a minute how it got back in Druid hands. What matters is that it did.

        This is one of those things where the speculation is more entertaining than whatever the truth might be.

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