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In a horrifying blend of post-apocalyptic terror and new age urban fantasy, "The Elves of Cintra" continues the story of a world ravaged by nuclear war, plague, pestilence, famine, mindless zombie-like creatures, demons and terrifying creatures born out of devastating mutations. Deaths have numbered in the billions and humanity teeters on the very brink of extinction. Most of those few humans who have survived have reverted to a dark age in which they remain walled up in fortified compounds brutally scavenging from one another and scratching out a mean subsistence life in much the same fashion as tribes would have done during the earliest periods of mankind's existence.
Long, long ago, the Elves conquered the demon hordes wandering Earth and sealed them away in a bleak existence called "the Forbidding." But current events on the earth - the wars, the nuclear radiation, the burgeoning evil that mankind is both experiencing and causing - are weakening the walls between Earth and the Forbidding. As evil's grip on the earth tightens, its defence has been reduced to the last two remaining Knights of the Word - Angel Perez and Logan Tom - two warriors carefully chosen by the Word for their indomitable spirit who have been given a magical staff and special powers to be used in the fight against demons and "The Void".
In "The Elves of Cintra," Brooks has woven an impossibly compelling magical spell, tightly drawing together the widely disparate story threads begun in "Armageddon's Children".
Hawk, one of the Seattle street child gangs who call themselves "The Ghosts" magically re-appears at the side of the King of the Silver River after his near execution. He learns of his role as the Gypsy Morph whose destiny is to lead thousands of the remaining children of humankind to a nebulous and as yet undefined promised land. Knight of the Word Angel Perez teams up with the young elf Kirisin to help him, his warrior sister and their blue Elfstones in an all-important search for the Loden Elfstone. This stone is as critical to the survival of the Elven nation as the Gypsy Morph is to the humans. Although far from certain of their ultimate destination and fate, Logan Tom continues to lead the remainder of The Ghosts in their flight from a devastated Seattle. The blood-thirsty, driven demons and other minions of The Void remain pledged to the annihilation of every living thing on earth and plague the children, the Knights of the Word and the Elves with their foul attacks at every turn.
"Armageddon's Children" and "The Elves of Cintra" tell a powerful epic tale. Far more than a simple story of the unending and timeless conflict between good and evil, they spin a positively magnetic saga of love, commitment, honour, dedication, trust and so much more. For example, the tale of orphaned children attempting to raise themselves in a bleak, nuclear-blasted world without reference to parental guidance, while astonishingly reminiscent of Golding's "Lord of the Flies", is fresh, exciting, heart-wrenching and most definitely not derivative in any way. The excruciating cataloguing of our human weaknesses and failings - selfishness, greed, despair, racism, lust and covetousness, to name only a few - serve as a bleak reminder of the problems which might ultimately be the foundation for humanity's eventual demise. Brooks' descriptions of a troubled world are graphic and breathtaking. His character building is deep, complex and utterly convincing.
If I can find even a single criticism, it is that the story ends on an excruciating cliff-hanger. To be sure, it constitutes a natural end of the book and a sensible break point but I'm still going to be holding my breath until I can find a copy of "The Gypsy Morph." What a fabulous story, Mr Brooks. I continue to be one of your biggest fans!
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