Upgrade to a better browser, please.

Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Books

The Elf Queen of Shannara

Added By: Administrator
Last Updated: Administrator

The Elf Queen of Shannara

Purchase this book through Purchase this book from Purchase this book from
Author: Terry Brooks
Publisher: Del Rey, 1992
Series: Heritage of Shannara: Book 3
Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre Tags: High Fantasy
Avg Member Rating:
(50 reads / 9 ratings)


"Find the Elves and return them to the world of Men!" the shade of the Druid Allanon had ordered Wren.

It was clearly an impossible task. The Elves had been gone from the Westland for more than a hundred years. There was not even a trace of their former city of Arborlon left to mark their passing. No one in the Esterland knew of them -- except, finally, the Addershag.

The blind old woman had given instructions to find a place on the coast of the Blue Divide, build a fire, and keep it burning for three days. "One will come for you."

Tiger Ty, the Wing Rider, had come on his giant Roc to carry Wren and her friend Garth to the only clear landing site on the island of Morrowindl, where, he said, the Elves might still exist, somewhere in the demon-haunted jungle.

Now she stood within that jungle, remembering the warning of the Addershag: "Beward, Elf-girl. I see danger ahead for you . . . and evil beyond imagining." It had proved all too true.

Wren stood with her single weapon of magic, listening as demons evil beyond all imagining gathered for attack. How long could she resist?

And if, by some miracle, she reached the Elves and could convince them to return, how could they possibly retrace her perilous path to reach the one safe place on the coast?




It sputtered in the oil lamps that hung distant and solitary in the windows and entryways of her people's homes. It spat and hissed as it licked at the pitch-coated torches bracketing road intersections and gates. It glowed through breaks in the leafy branches of the ancient oak and hickory where glassed lanterns lined the treelanes. Bits and pieces of flickering light, the flames were like tiny creatures that the night threatened to search out and consume.

Like ourselves, she thought.

Like the Elves.

Her gaze lifted, traveling beyond the buildings and walls of the city to where Killeshan steamed.


It glowed redly out of the volcano's ragged mouth, the glare of its molten core reflected in the clouds of vog--volcanic ash--that hung in sullen banks across the empty sky. Killeshan loomed over them, vast and intractable, a phenomenon of nature that no Elven magic could hope to withstand. For weeks now the rumbling had sounded from deep within the earth, dissatisfied, purposeful, a building up of pressure that would eventually demand release.

For now, the lava burrowed and tunneled through cracks and fissures in its walls and ran down into the waters of the ocean in long, twisting ribbons that burned off the jungle and the things that lived within it. One day soon now, she knew, this secondary venting would not be enough, and Killeshan would erupt in a conflagration that would destroy them all.

If any of them remained by then.

She stood at the edge of the Gardens of Life close, to where the Ellcrys grew. The ancient tree lifted skyward as if to fight through the vog and breathe the cleaner air that lay sealed above. Silver branches glimmered faintly with the light of lanterns and torches; scarlet leaves reflected the volcano's darker glow. Scatterings of fire danced in strange patterns through breaks in the tree as if trying to form a picture. She watched the images appear and fade, a mirror of her thoughts, and the sadness she felt threatened to overwhelm her.

What am I to do? she thought desperately. What choices are left me?

None, she knew. None, but to wait.

She was Ellenroh Elessedil, Queen of the Elves, and all she could do was to wait.

She gripped the Ruhk Staff tightly and glanced skyward with a grimace. There were no stars or moon this night. There had been little of either for weeks, only the vog, thick and impenetrable, a shroud waiting to descend, to cover their bodies, to enfold them all, and to wrap them away forever.

She stood stiffly as a hot breeze blew over her, ruffling the fine linen of her clothing. She was tall, her body angular and long limbed. The bones of her face were prominent, shaping features that were instantly recognizable. Her cheekbones were high, her forehead broad, and her jaw sharp-edged and smooth beneath her wide, thin mouth. Her skin was drawn tight against her face, giving her a sculpted look. Flaxen hair tumbled to her shoulders in thick, unruly curls. Her eyes were a strange, piercing blue and always seemed to be seeing things not immediately apparent to others. She seemed much younger than her fifty-odd years. When she smiled, which was often, she brought smiles to the faces of others almost effortlessly.

She was not smiling now. It was late, well after midnight, and her weariness was like a chain that would not let her go. She could not sleep and had come to walk in the Gardens, to listen to the night, to be alone with her thoughts, and to try to find some small measure of peace. But peace was elusive, her thoughts were small demons that taunted and teased, and the night was a great, hungering black cloud that waited patiently for the moment when it would at last extinguish the frail spark of their lives.

Fire, again. Fire to give life and fire to snuff it out. The image whispered at her insidiously.

She turned abruptly and began walking through the Gardens. Cort trailed behind her, a silent, invisible presence. If she bothered to look for him, he would not be there. She could picture him in her mind, a small, stocky youth with incredible quickness and strength. He was one of the Home Guard, protectors of the Elven rulers, the weapons that defended them, the lives that were given up to preserve their own. Cort was her shadow, and if not Cort, then Dal. One or the other of them was always there, keeping her safe. As she moved along the pathway, her thoughts slipped rapidly, one to the next. She felt the roughness of the ground through the thin lining of her slippers. Arborlon, the city of the Elves, her home, brought out of the Westland more than a hundred years ago--here, to this ...

She left the thought unfinished. She lacked the words to complete it.

Elven magic, conjured anew out of faerie time, sheltered the city, but the magic was beginning to fail. The mingled fragrances of the Garden's flowers were overshadowed by the acrid smells of Killeshan's gases where they had penetrated the outer barrier of the Keel. Night birds sang gently from the trees and coverings, but even here their songs were undercut by the guttural sounds of the dark things that lurked beyond the city's walls in the jungles and swamps, that pressed up against the Keel, waiting.

The monsters.

The trail she followed ended at the northern most edge of the Gardens on a promontory overlooking her home. The palace windows were dark, the people within asleep, all but her. Beyond lay the city, clusters of homes and shops tucked behind the Keel's protective barrier like frightened animals hunkered down in their dens. Nothing moved, as if fear made movement impossible, as if movement would give them away. She shook her head sadly. Arborlon was an island surrounded by enemies. Behind, to the east, was Killeshan, rising up over the city, a great, jagged mountain formed by lava rock from eruptions over the centuries, the volcano dormant until only twenty years ago, now alive and anxious. North and south the jungle grew, thick and impenetrable, stretching away in a tangle of green to the shores of the ocean. West, below the slopes on which Arborlon was seated, lay the Rowen, and beyond the wall of Blackledge. None of it belonged to the Elves. Once the entire world had belonged to them, before the coming of Man. Once there had been nowhere they could not go. Even in the time of the Druid Allanon, just three hundred years before, the whole of the Westland had been theirs. Now they were reduced to this small space, besieged on all sides, imprisoned behind the wall of their failing magic. All of them, all that remained, trapped.

She looked out at the darkness beyond the Keel, picturing in her mind what waited there. She thought momentarily of the irony of it--the Elves, made victims of their own magic, of their own clever, misguided plans, and of fears that should never have been heeded. How could they have been so foolish?

Far down from where she stood, near the end of the Keel where it buttressed the hardened lava of some long past runoff, there was a sudden flare of light--a spurt of fire followed by a quick, brilliant explosion and a shriek. There were brief shouts and then silence. Another attempt to breach the walls and another death. It was a nightly occurrence now as the creatures grew bolder and the magic continued to fail.

She glanced behind her to where the topmost branches of the Ellcrys lifted above the Garden trees, a canopy of life. The tree had protected the Elves from so much for so long. It had renewed and restored. It had given peace. But it could not protect them now, not against what threatened this time.

Not against themselves.

She grasped the Rukh Staff in defiance and felt the magic surge within, a warming against her palm and fingers. The Staff was thick and gnarled and polished to a fine sheen. It had been hewn from black walnut and imbued with the magic of her people. Fixed to its tip was the Loden, white brilliance against the darkness of the night. She could see herself reflected in its facets. She could feel herself reach within. The Ruhk Staff had given strength to the rulers of Arborlon for more than a century gone.

But the Staff could not protect the Elves either.

"Cort?" she called softly.

The Home Guard materialized beside her.

"Stand with me a moment," she said.

They stood without speaking and looked out over the city. She felt impossibly alone. Her people were threatened with extinction. She should be doing something. Anything. What if the dreams were wrong? What if the visions of Eowen Cerise were mistaken? That had never happened, of course, but there was so much at stake! Her mouth tightened angrily. She must believe. It was necessary that she believe. The visions would come to pass. The girl would appear to them as promised, blood of her blood. The girl would appear.

But would even she be enough?

She shook the question away. She could not permit it. She could not give way to her despair.

She wheeled about and walked swiftly back through the Gardens to the pathway leading down again. Cort stayed with her for a moment, then faded away into the shadows. She did not see him go. Her mind was on the future, on the foretellings of Eowen, and on the fate of the Elven people. She was determined that her people would survive. She would wait for the girl for as long as she could, for as long as the magic would keep their enemies away. She would pray that Eowen's visions were true.

She was Ellenroh Elessedil, Queen of the Elves, and she would do what she must.


It burned within as well.

Sheathed in the armor of her convictions, she went down out of the Gardens of Life in the slow hours of the early morning to sleep.

Copyright © 1992 by Terry Brooks


There are currently no reviews for this novel. Be the first to submit one! You must be logged in to submit a review in the BookTrackr section above.


No alternate cover images currently exist for this novel.