“The Word and the Void Trilogy” by Terry Brooks

Book 1: Running with the Demon

About the book
John Ross is a Knight of the Word. Every night when he falls asleep he finds himself in a bleak future, ruled by the demons of the Void. That future will come to pass if he should fail in his mission.

Nest Freemark is a 14 year old girl living in the small town of Hopewell, with her grandmother and grandfather. She is the caretaker of the Sinnissippi Park along with her companion, six inch tall sylvan Pick and his barn owl companion Daniel.

John Ross is tracking a demon, who has come to Hopewell on a mission of his own. During the turmoil that follows, Nest finds out a secret that changes everything.

Cover_AKotWBook 2: A Knight of the Word

About the book
John Ross has lost faith in himself and in his mission as a Knight of the Word. He has cast aside his magic and tries to live a normal life, with his girlfriend Stefanie and his work at a center for homeless women and kids in Seattle.

What John doesn’t realize is that he can’t cast the magic aside, which makes him an alluring prize for the Void. Demons stalk him, trying to turn him before he realizes what’s happened.

With John Ross blinded by his desire to leave his old life behind, the Word turns in desperation to Nest Freemark for help. Nest herself is now in college and is trying to come to terms with what she has learned about herself, and what it means for her own future. When the tatterdemalion Ariel shows up in Sinissippi Park with a message from the Lady, Nest travels to Seattle to try to save John from the demons and from his own doubt.

51RYxoxkkeL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Book 3: Angel Fire East

About the book
John Ross is, once more, a Knight of the Word. He has found a gypsy morph, a creature of very powerful magic that can be used for good or bad. John has 30 days to figure out how to unlock the gypsy morph’s powers before it disappears for good. Demons hunt him ceaselessly, attracted by the powerful magic of the gypsy morph. When he fails to unlock the magic on his own he turns to Nest Freemark.

Fifteen years have passed since the events in Running with the Demon, and Nest lives alone in her grandparent’s house in Hopewell, helping Pick tend the park. She lives a quiet life of solitude. Just a few days before Christmas three very different visitors show up on her doorstep, turning her quiet life upside down once more.

My thoughts
Let me just start off by saying how much I love the title Running with the Demon. I mean, the images that line conjures up, oh my goodness.

Now, the Word and the Void trilogy is in one way a classic story of war between good and evil, the Word and the Void. It’s not really at all religious, though. There are demons, but there are also sylvans and tatterdemalions and fairies. There’s magic.

For me, the trilogy is a story of being different, of the feeling that you don’t fit in even where you should, of not truly belonging anywhere. It is a feeling I can relate to very much. I feel for Nest, and I love how strong she is (even when she isn’t).

These three books are by far my favorite books by Terry Brooks. I read the Shannara books many years ago, but I remember them as lighter, more youth-oriented. These books are raw and dark and gritty, just the way I like ’em. There is a sense of desperation and hopelessness in John’s quest, at the same time as the reader is made acutely aware of the importance of his mission through the flash-forwards of his dreams. It creates an excuisite underlying feeling of tension that remains through all three books.

The first book is my favorite of the three. All three books are good, though, and the ending is satisfying. Perhaps I like the first one best because it’s the most relatable with its smalltown backdrop. I also think the characters are more diverse and better depicted in the first book compared to the other two. Nest’s grandparents make a dynamic duo with a complex relationship, flaws and strengths and all, just like real people. However, the tatterdemalion that is introduced in book two is one of the coolest creatures ever conjured up; it’s a ghostlike spirit made from the memories of dead children. Let me say that again: a creature made of the memories of dead children. And yet she’s a creature of the Word. Imagine what’s going on inside her poor head. In my opinion Ariel deserves a book of her own. One can hope.

The trilogy has a sort of continuation in the Genesis of Shannara, where Terry Brooks connects The Word and the Void trilogy to the Shannara series. I read the Genesis trilogy and thought it was ok. I think there’s even more books now, continuing on after that, but I haven’t read them. On his website Terry Brooks has posted a preferred reading order for those interested.

If you love urban fantasy with a pinch of magic, and a heaping of dystopia, read these books. I give them .

About the author
Terry Brooks has thrilled readers for decades with his powers of imagination and storytelling. He was born in Illinois in 1944. He spent a great deal of his childhood and early adulthood dreaming up stories in and around Sinnissippi Park, the very same park that would eventually become the setting for his bestselling Word & Void trilogy. He received his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College, where he majored in English Literature, and went on to earn his graduate degree from the School of Law at Washington & Lee University. He is the author of more than thirty books, most of which have been New York Times bestsellers. He lives with his wife, Judine, in the Pacific Northwest.
Source: http://us.macmillan.com/theflickermen/tedkosmatka, http://terrybrooks.net/bio/

Buy it
Buy Running With the Demon, A Knight of the Word, and Angel Fire East on Amazon, or buy the omnibus edition.
Buy Running with the Demon, A Knight of the Word, and Angel Fire East at Barnes & Noble.