Armageddon’s Children is a post-apocalyptic novel from Terry Brooks, one of fantasy’s enduring greats and a storyteller of rare skill. It’s an exploration of good and evil, of the dangers we face if we don’t rise above our pathologies. Even with the heady political themes, it’s still an exciting adventure story.
Terry Brooks is an author I’ve been reading since I first was enchanted by the volumes of the high fantasy Shannara series that my father kept on his book shelf. I enjoyed all his Shannara books, but his Word and Void series were what cemented Terry Brooks as an author I follow to this day. Dark, contemporary, pre-apocalyptic and expertly written, it was a source of much inspiration during my high school years.
Armageddon’s Children is the beginning of a series that will bridge the time between the Word and Void books and the Shannara books, essentially uniting all of Mr. Brooks’ novels into a coherent chronological order. As a fan of his works, this is quite exciting, but it shouldn’t discourage anyone new to them; the book stands as a distinct and compelling story without the three books that come before it.
The story follows four main threads that begin to mesh as the struggle to find purpose and a chance for survival in a fallen world takes root. A group of street kids struggle to survive the dangers of a ruined Seatle. One of two “Knights of the Word” works to save children from beseiged compound, before being given a mission that may allow her to save a few survivors from further destruction. Another knight attacks demon armies and tries to find a foothold in a world sliding further from civilization, before discovering a piece of hope to do so. In Oregon two elven youths try to preserve a tree that holds a magical barrier keeping demons sealed away.
As with all great speculative fiction, the modes of fantasy and science fiction are used here to explore higher themes. The real threat of a slide backwards from civilization is exagerated and set in a fantastic story, but Mr. Brooks is successful at bringing the immediacy of fictional struggle aside the tangible threats facing us today. The adventure can disarm us enough to slip parallels into our awareness, and it’s potent in the hands of a master like Terry Brooks.