What excitement awaits us in this installment of The Sword of Shannara? Will Flick, Shea and Allanon spend more time having stilted, long-winded discussions about history? Will there be more blatant Lord of The Rings copying? Only one way to find out.
Shea and Flick finally went back to their chores and shortly thereafter were dispatched on an errand by their father that took them out of the Vale to the north end of the valley.
Did they tell their dad about any of this? Apparently he just went about his usual business after hearing Allanon make an ominous as fuck pronouncement about his son, so the guy doesn’t exactly seem like the sharpest tool in the shed.
Shea and Flick discover that Allanon left his room at the inn without saying anything, leaving a note behind:
I have no time to find you and explain matters further. Something of the greatest importance has occurred, and I must leave immediately-perhaps even now I am too late. You must trust me and believe what I told you, even though I will not be able to return to the valley.
You will not long be safe in Shady Vale, and you must be prepared to flee quickly. Should your safety be threatened, you will find shelter at Culhaven in the forests of the Anar. I will send a friend to guide you. Place your trust in Balinor.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to just bring Shea with him? Was whatever happened so urgent that he couldn’t spare five minutes to go collect him?
Speak with no one of our meeting. The danger to you is extreme. In the pocket of your maroon travel cloak, I have placed a small pouch which contains three Elfstones.
I’m dying to know what Elfstones do.
The brothers’ attitudes to this whole business seem to have swapped around between this chapter and the last one; previously Flick was all captivated by Allanon’s tales and Shea scoffed at him, whereas now it’s the other way around. I can’t really comment on whether this is consistent with their personalities, as so far they have no personalities, except that Shea is somewhat more serious and down to Earth than Flick.
Over the next few days (I now take back what I said about the book moving too fast) a huge storm passes through Shady Vale, causing much destruction o’er the land and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Two weeks later Shea receives a letter from someone called Menion Leah, who is apparently something of a wastrel. Will this be our Rogue With a Heart of Gold? If so the party just needs an annoying comic relief character and a woman to be complete.
A Mysterious Dude in a green cloak arrives at the inn and Shea and Flick cautiously go and investigate, thinking it might be the contact that Allanon mentioned in his letter.
The Valeman was taking his time, apparently trying to get in a position where he could catch a glimpse of the man wrapped in the green cloak.
Shea and Flick are referred to as “Valemen” near constantly, both in narration and dialogue. A brief survey indicates that the word is used over 200 times, which gets annoying in a way that just using the characters’ names wouldn’t.
The new arrival is indeed Balinor, the guy Allanon said would come to protect them. He’s a rugged thewsome sort who’s also a prince, so I guess that makes him the Aragorn analogue or something?
Anyway he says that he’s lost contact with Allanon following a rumoured attack on Paranor and he’s come to take Shea out of the valley because there are nefarious sorts looking for him.
So wait, if Allanon left the valley to go to Paranor where the sword of Shannara is, and Shea is important because he can wield the sword, then why didn’t he bring Shea with him? There’s absolutely no reason to leave him in Shady Vale where he could be assassinated or just killed in a random accident.
I again find myself
letting my mind drift back in time thinking back to Wheel of Time, where after the Trolloc attack Moiraine is like “shit’s getting real, we need to get somewhere safe immediately”.
Balinor announces that he’s not actually going to escort Shea to his destination, because he was spotted by evil sorts and he’ll be more useful leading them the wrong way. Except no, because Shea only has the vaguest idea where to go and has never undertaken a journey like this before.
Do as Allanon has said and guard the Elfstones with care. They are a powerful weapon
How about you actually tell him how to use them?
You’d think this would be the cue for Shea and Flick to immediately leave the valley, but Shea resolves to eat dinner, rifle through his belongings for a bit looking for things to bring and have a good think about the matter first. Thankfully that night something happens to get things moving.
He saw the creature almost immediately-a huge, terrible black shape, stooped in a half-crouch as it crawled, dragging itself slowly through the shadows of the buildings across from the inn, its humped back covered by a cloak that rose and billowed softly as something beneath pushed and beat against it.
I guess that’s pretty cool as far as an evil fantasy monster goes.
The creature is wearing a pendant in the shape of a skull, which is significant because Allanon told Shea to skedaddle if he saw anything bearing a skull mark, although I’m going to say he probably should run from this thing on general principles.
Bored. So boring. Let’s just do one more of these posts.