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A Knight of the Word
Cover of A Knight of the Word
A Knight of the Word
Shannara: The Word & The Void Trilogy, Book 2
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"Superior to anything being written in the genre . . . Terry Brooks is one of a handful of fantasy writers whose work consistently meets the highest literary standards."—Rocky Mountain News
Eight centuries ago the first Knight of the Word was commissioned to combat the demonic evil of the Void. Now that daunting legacy has passed to John Ross—along with powerful magic and the knowledge that his actions are all that stand between a living hell and humanity's future.
Then, after decades of service to the Word, an unspeakable act of violence shatters John Ross's weary faith. Haunted by guilt, he turns his back on his dread gift, settling down to build a normal life, untroubled by demons and nightmares.
But a fallen Knight makes a tempting prize for the Void, which could bend the Knight's magic to its own evil ends. And once the demons on Ross's trail track him to Seattle, neither he nor anyone close to him will be safe. His only hope is Nest Freemark, a college student who wields an extraordinary magic all her own. Five years earlier, Ross had aided Nest when the future of humanity rested upon her choice between Word and Void. Now Nest must return the favor. She must restore Ross's faith, or his life—and hers—will be forfeit . . .
"[An] urban dark fantasy . . . Sharp and satisfying."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Superior to anything being written in the genre . . . Terry Brooks is one of a handful of fantasy writers whose work consistently meets the highest literary standards."—Rocky Mountain News
Eight centuries ago the first Knight of the Word was commissioned to combat the demonic evil of the Void. Now that daunting legacy has passed to John Ross—along with powerful magic and the knowledge that his actions are all that stand between a living hell and humanity's future.
Then, after decades of service to the Word, an unspeakable act of violence shatters John Ross's weary faith. Haunted by guilt, he turns his back on his dread gift, settling down to build a normal life, untroubled by demons and nightmares.
But a fallen Knight makes a tempting prize for the Void, which could bend the Knight's magic to its own evil ends. And once the demons on Ross's trail track him to Seattle, neither he nor anyone close to him will be safe. His only hope is Nest Freemark, a college student who wields an extraordinary magic all her own. Five years earlier, Ross had aided Nest when the future of humanity rested upon her choice between Word and Void. Now Nest must return the favor. She must restore Ross's faith, or his life—and hers—will be forfeit . . .
"[An] urban dark fantasy . . . Sharp and satisfying."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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  • Available:
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Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    900
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    4 - 5

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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    It was dawn when she woke, the sky just beginning to brighten in the east, night's shadows still draping the trunks and limbs of the big shade trees in inky layers. She lay quietly for a time, looking through her curtained window as the day advanced, aware of a gradual change in the light that warmed the cool darkness of her bedroom. From beneath the covers she listened to the sounds of the morning. She could hear birdsong in counterpoint to the fading hum of tires as a car sped down Woodlawn's blacktop toward the highway. She could hear small creaks and mutterings from the old house, some of them so familiar that she remembered them from her childhood. She could hear the sound of voices, of Gran and Old Bob, whispering to each other in the kitchen as they drank their morning coffee and waited for her to come out for breakfast.But the voices were only in her mind, of course. Old Bob and Gran were gone.

    Nest Freemark rose to a sitting position, drew up her long legs to her chest, rested her forehead against her knees, and closed her eyes. Gone. Both of them. Gran for five years and Old Bob since May. It was hard to believe, even now. She wished every day that she could have them back again. Even for five minutes. Even for five seconds.

    The sounds of the house wrapped her, small and comforting, all part of her nineteen years of life. She had always lived in this house, right up to the day she had left for college in September of last year, a freshman on a full ride at one of the most prestigious schools in the country. Northwestern University. Her grandfather had been so proud, telling her she should remember she had earned the right to attend this school, but the school, in turn, had merited her interest, so both of them should get something out of the bargain. He had laughed, his voice low and deep, his strong hands coming about her shoulders to hold her, and she had known instinctively that he was holding her for Gran, as well.

    Now he was gone, dead of a heart attack three days before the end of her first year, gone in a moment, the doctor said afterward--no pain, no suffering, the way it should be. She had come to accept the doctor's reassurance, but it didn't make her miss her grandfather any the less. With both Gran and Old Bob gone, and her parents gone longer still, she had only herself to rely upon.

    But, then, she supposed in a way that had always been so.

    She lifted her head and smiled. It was how she had grown up, wasn't it? Learning to be alone, to be independent, to accept that she would never be like any other child?

    She ticked off the ways in which she was different, running through them in a familiar litany that helped define and settle the borders of her life.

    She could do magic--had been able to do magic for a long time. It had frightened her at first, confused and troubled her, but she had learned to adapt to the magic's demands, taught first by Gran, who had once had use of the magic herself, and later by Pick. She had learned to control and nurture it, to find a place for it in her life without letting it consume her. She had discovered how to maintain the balance within herself in the same way that Pick was always working to maintain the balance in the park.

    Pick, her best friend, was a six-inch-high sylvan, a forest creature who looked for the most part like something a child had made of the discards of a bird's nest, with body and limbs of twigs and hair and beard of moss. Pick was the guardian of Sinnissippi Park, sent to keep in balance the magic that permeated all things and to hold in check the feeders that worked to upset that balance. It was a big job for a lone sylvan, as he was fond of...

About the Author-
  • Terry Brooks has thrilled readers for decades with his powers of imagination and storytelling. 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.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 29, 1998
    Brooks continues his vacation from his trademark Tolkienesque adventures (the Shannara and Magic Kingdom novels) with this urban dark fantasy, a sharp and satisfying follow-up to last year's Running with the Demon. It has been five years since mortal John Ross was anointed a Knight of the Word, and in that time he has suffered a serious crisis of faith. Unable to prevent the death of innocents in senseless acts of violence engineered by demons of the Void, he has fallen from his calling and drifted to Seattle to work with saintly Simon Lawrence and the Fresh Start program for homeless women and children. Nagged by recurring nightmares of a possible future in which he murders his mentor and dismantles the program, John is guilt-ridden, uncertain and vulnerable to a shape-shifting demon who has infiltrated his circle of associates. His only hope is Nest Freemark, the teenage heroine of his previous adventure, who applies her own grasp of the Word to smoke out the demon before John's dreams--which include her death--can come true. The identity of John's demonic manipulator and the meaning of his dreams are carefully crafted mysteries that build to a climax filled with surprising twists and turns. Brooks's real achievement, however, is his orchestration of the tale's social issues and personal dramas into a scenario with the resonance of myth. Both a sprightly entertainment and a thoughtful allegory of the forces of Good and Evil at large in the modern world, this novel is sure to increase its author's already vast readership. Author tour.

  • Library Journal

    April 15, 1998
    Best-selling fantasy writer Brooks offers a sequel to his Running with the Demon, featuring a black runestaff who has the awful burden of channeling the world's magic.

  • Booklist

    May 15, 1998
    John Ross and Nest Freemark, the magical principals in "Running with the Demon", are still around five years after that disaster-fantasy's reasonably happy ending. John is in Seattle, to which he has drifted after renouncing his responsibilities as a Knight of the Word--that is, a defender of goodness--and where he works at a very successful homeless shelter. Nest comes to tell him he is in peril of becoming a minion of the evil Void if he doesn't resume his knightly duties, for Halloween fast approaches, and, as "Running" attested, that is when demons make their move. One of Brooks' strengths is physical description, and scenic Seattle serves that talent well. But description is not normally the strong suit of a fantasy thriller (King can make do with it, but what can't he do with the genre?), and since Brooks lets us down in the plot and action categories, not to mention the crucial one of suspense (the resolutions of the book's mysteries are apparent no later than halfway through), this is rather a snooze. Yet all of Brooks' books have sold well, so have it for the fans, anyway. ((Reviewed May 15, 1998))(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 1998, American Library Association.)

  • Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    "[An] urban dark fantasy . . . Sharp and satisfying."

  • Rocky Mountain News "SUPERIOR TO ANYTHING BEING WRITTEN IN THE GENRE . . . Terry Brooks is one of a handful of fantasy writers whose work consistently meets the highest literary standards."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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A Knight of the Word
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Shannara: The Word & The Void Trilogy, Book 2
Terry Brooks
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