Running With The Demon: The Word and the Void Series: Book One

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9780099602217: Running With The Demon: The Word and the Void Series: Book One

In a small Illinois town in contemporary America, Good and Evil do battle for domination of the world. The focal point for this trouble is Nest Freemark, who helps an unlikely paladin in his quest for victory, both in this world and in that of his dreams.

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Terry Brooks' Running with the Demon is billed as "A Novel of Good and Evil", but it could have been "A Novel of Here and Now". The fantasy master behind the Shannara series switches his focus from neo-Tolkien jungles to the woebegone steel town of Hopewell, Illinois. Though Illinois teenager Nest Freemark (where does he get these names?) looks like your average kid, she spends her free time in the woods asking her 6-inch pal Pick for advice in dodging the Demon and his creepy Feeders, spirits who gobble the souls of humans. Nest is also being tailed by John Ross, a shining Knight of the Word who wants to keep her from the Feeders' jaws.

Meanwhile, in the real world that dominates the novel, Nest Freemark is being stalked by a handsome, evil classmate whom she has rejected, and a pack of insurgent striking steelworkers plot a bombing at the company's Fourth of July picnic. The boy and the bombers are unaware that they're being subconsciously manipulated by the Demon. The book's matter-of-fact take on the uncanny is a bit like The X-Files. (And if you want to compare the two, check out Ted Edwards' X-Files Confidential: The Unauthorized X-Philes Compendium.)

Brooks' plot has more strands than a plate of pasta, yet his mind is logical to a fault--he used to be a lawyer after all. There's something for everyone: gory monster attacks, dreadful family secrets, magical mind-game duels, even a (rather flat) teen-romance subplot. The setting has real grit and the countdown to the Independence Day bombing peps up the tale. Brooks sometimes prosaically explains things a better literary stylist would dramatize, and his minatory visions of environmental apocalypse are more fun than the obvious, nagging, don't-be-a-litterbug message they exist to convey. Brooks will never be as deep as Tolkien, and many readers will find him less awesome as their adolescence recedes. Still, he's the genuine article and, with this book, he raises the stakes he's playing for.


By far the best of Terry Brook s' many wonderful novels: darker, starker, classically written. (John Saul)

John Ross, the tortured, conflicted A Knight of the Word from Terry Brooks's Running with the Demon, finally gets a good night's sleep in the sequel. He buys this moment's peace at the cost of his sacred oath to be a champion of the Word, renouncing that (The story winds lazily through sleepy, wet Seattle like a tour bus, steadily building. Everything eventually converges on the homeless shelter where John works with his new sweetheart Stefanie Winslow for über-activist Simon Lawrence, a man his dreams tel)

Paul Hughes ('His fans should embrace it as eagerly as they have THE SWORD OF SHANNARA’)

- Publisher's Weekly ('as readable as it is thoroughly enjoyable.’)

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