The wicked witch Nightshade has conceived the perfect
plan to destroy Ben Holiday, the king of Landover: she'll let his
daughter do it. Even though the girl is only two years old, she looks
and behaves like a ten-year-old, and has a definite talent for
witchcraft. Nightshade kidnaps Mistaya in order to train her for the
Ben Holiday only knows someone has kidnapped Mistaya, and he
searches from one end of Landover to the other trying to find her.
Meanwhile, a hostile king, Rydall of Marnhull, has demanded
Landover's surrender, or else Ben must face Rydall's invincible
champions. Ben knows there is a pattern to it all, if he could only
Witches' Brew is a light-hearted fantasy adventure set in
Terry Brooks' popular Magic Kingdom of Landover. Like the others
before it, this is a free-standing novel, although still best
appreciated as part of the Landover series. When background history
is necessary, Brooks sufficiently explains most of it as he goes
along, allowing each book to be read individually, without committing
the reader to the entire series.
Despite the popularity of his books, both the Landover and the
Shannara series, Brooks is not a graceful writer. He maintains a good
humor throughout, but his tone is often uneven, as if he cannot quite
take his own story-telling seriously. One persistent failing is his
insistence on belaboring a point: if a character has doubts or
preoccupations, Brooks makes certain the reader knows -- over and
over again. He also has a tendency to summarize some scenes rather
than present what could have been interesting action. The worst
violations of this "show, don't tell" rule are Ben's six-page (and
rather forced) reflection on Mistaya's growth and precocity, and
Mistaya's magic lessons with Nightshade; in both cases, Brooks should
have presented by example or left the scenes out altogether.
Mistaya herself is a disappointment as well. True, she is supposed
to be a child prodigy, but what Brooks has created is a peculiarly
immature adult whose only vestige of true childhood is her friendship
with the wizard Questor Thews.
Although generally entertaining, Witches' Brew is not one
of Brooks' better efforts.
sample chapter from Witches' Brew at the Del
Rey Internet site.
Other books set in the Magic Kingdom of Landover:
Magic Kingdom For Sale -- Sold! Del Rey, 1986
The Black Unicorn. Del Rey, 1987
Wizard At Large. Del Rey, 1988
The Tangle Box. Del Rey, 1994
Witches' Brew. Del Rey, 1995
This review copyright 1996 by Wendy Morris
Information last updated March 22, 1998