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Literature / High Druid of Shannara

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High Druid of Shannara is an installment in Terry Brooks' long-running Shannara series. It is a trilogy, composed of Jarka Ruus, Tanequil, and Straken. Set a two decades after The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, it chronicles the efforts of Grianne Ohmsford, High Druid and former Ilse Witch, to build a Druid Order worthy of her promise to Walker Boh. When the series opens, Grianne is off to a fairly successful start, having recruited a few dozen Druids, and opened diplomatic relations with the governments of the Four Lands.

All is not well, however, and dark forces are conspiring against Grianne. Within Paranor, rebellious Druid Shadea a'Ru is preparing her allies for a coup. Reaching out to the Prime Minister of The Federation's Coalition Council, Shadea aims to displace Grianne, and make herself the new High Druid. At the same time, the Straken (Demon) Lord Tael Riverine, is laying plans to escape from the Forbidding, and decides that Shadea is exactly the sort of tool he needs.

When Shadea's attack finally does come, it traps Grianne in the Forbidding, where forces loyal to Tael aim to hunt her down and make her his prisoner. Worse still, Shadea's actions turn The Moric, one of Tael's most trusted servants, loose in the Four Lands, from which it can conspire to bring down the Forbidding, leading to a repeat of the horrible war from The Elfstones of Shannara. It falls on Grianne's nephew, Pen, to free her from the Forbidding, and put an end to Shadea and Tael's plots.

Tropes associated with this trilogy include:

  • Action Girl: Khyber Elessedil, this series' wielder of the Blue Elfstones.
  • Archenemy: This series saw the beginning of the enmity between Grianne Ohmsford and Tael Riverine, which would last until the end of Dark Legacy of Shannara.
  • The Archmage: With the recreation of the Druid Council, the position of High Druid, or Ard Rhys, becomes the setting equivalent. Grianne holds the title at the start of the series, before Shadea a'Ru seizes it for herself. Khyber Elessedil eventually succeeds to the position and holds it until Dark Legacy.
  • The Atoner: Grianne knows that there's nothing she can do to make up for all the evil she did as the Ilse Witch
  • The Big Bad: Tael Riverine.
  • Dark Action Girl: Shadea a'Ru is probably the second strongest Druid in Paranor after Grianne herself, and she can certainly put up a fight.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: Ever since the death of The Dagda Mor, various Straken Lords have been competing to take his place. Tael Riverine is the most powerful of them, and is the closest thing that the Demons have to a leader.
  • The Empath: Pen Ohmsford.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Shadea is a female example, while her male allies are more traditional ones. Big Bad Tael Riverine may also qualify, despite being a Demon Lord.
  • Lady of War: Grianne.
  • The Legions of Hell: Tael Riverine wants to bring down the Forbidding and turn the Demons loose in the Four Lands once again.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Forbidding is a Phantom Zone style Tailor-Made Prison for the Demons.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: Grianne becomes this when Shadea traps her in the Forbidding. By the end she chooses to stay this way as part of the Tanequil in order to free Cinaminson, and move beyond her own guilt over the past.
  • Sketchy Successor: A tragic example with Grianne Ohmsford in High Druid of Shannara. Although a talented sorceress and leader, her past as the evil Ilse Witch hampered her efforts to accomplish anything and her tenure as Ard Rhys of the Third Druid Order was marked by dissension within and without. She lacked Walker Boh's positive reputation and was distrusted by every nation in the Four Lands. In the end she steps down and dissolves the Druid Order entirely, after bringing an end to the Federation-Freeborn conflict.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Shadea a'Ru, Sen Dunsidan, and the other human villains are nothing more than Tael Riverine's puppets, doing whatever the Straken Lord wishes of them without even knowing it.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Pen Ohmsford gets this a lot. Whereas his father and his aunt have The Wishsong, all he has is an enhanced sense of empathy.