Both the successes and the flaws of the storytelling will be familiar to readers of Brooks’ extensive oeuvre, and the way every thread plays out is a satisfying enough place to end the massive epic of Shannara, although of course the end isn’t so final that there isn’t room to carry on.
Familiar Brooks strengths—courage, perseverance, loyalty, and so forth—are prominent, yet it's hard to ignore the underlying exhaustion. Things happen randomly, so the narrative strands never quite cohere into a single satisfying package; events readers might have anticipated from the previous volumes fail to materialize. Brooks' style is easy and undemanding. His characters often resemble fantasy archetypes yet possess just enough individuality to avoid skepticism; plots seldom stray far from boilerplate. His greatest appeal has been to youth, and recent attempts to inject mature themes such as sexual violence have not been a success. As he has pretty much throughout the entire Shannara cosmos, Brooks takes his departure with the contention that science and magic are flip sides of the same coin. They're not. Science works for anybody. Magic works only if you have the gift ... Like a weary yet exultant marathon runner: wraps itself in a flag, totters across the finish line, and crumples in a heap.
The noble Tarsha and villainous Clizia are thinly developed genre clichés and similar laziness in world-building too often makes this a slog. The story’s bare bones will strike many readers as too close to the framework of the Star Wars movies for comfort: a young woman with mystical powers, who has been mentored by an older wizard, must confront another magic user who has turned to the dark side and so betrayed her mystical order. Even longtime fans will likely be happy that Brooks is moving on to a completely new imagined world.