Ellcrys life expectancy

24 September 2012 08:42

This post contains spoilers.

Today, I’m going to do something a little different.

A while ago, I finished Terry Brooks’ latest novel "The Wards of Faerie". Seeing as I am a bit of a Terry Brooks fan it should come as no surprise that I really enjoyed this book (though this is not always a given, as I didn’t like The Measure of the Magic). There is, however, one particular thing that has been irking me.

One of the key plot points is that the Ellcrys is once again dying. Most Shannara fans know this happens from time to time, as it is the key plot point of The Elfstones of Shannara, the second book in the series. But what kind of irked me about it, is that it seems a bit too soon. The current Ellcrys has been there since the end of Elfstones of Shannara, ever since Amberle sacrificed herself. But how long has that been?

There are 11 Shannara books between Elfstones of Shannara and The Wards of Faerie.

  • 20 years pass between Elfstones and Wishsong of Shannara
  • Several centuries (300 years if I recall correctly) pass between Wishsong and Scions of Shannara
  • 130 years pass between the final Heritage book (The Talismans of Shannara) and the Voyage series (Ilse Witch, Antrax and Morgawr)
  • 20 years pass between Morgawr and Jarka Ruus (the first book of High Druid)
  • 100 years pass between Straken (the final High Druid book) and The Wards of Faerie

So, let’s say each series takes about a year in total, then we have 570 years between the start of Amberle’s term as Ellcrys and her demise. This seems rather short to me. If the average life expectancy of an Ellcrys is about 6 centuries, then that means another Ellcrys exchange should have taken place prior to or during the Second War of the Races (500 years before Sword of Shannara), a time during which there were plenty of Druids around to help with any lack of documentation on the Elves behalf. Furthermore, it would mean that another Ellcrys failure would have taken place prior to the First War of the Races, and another one prior to, after, or during Measure of the Magic.

So, what does this all mean? Nothing probably. Perhaps the life expectancy of the Ellcrys is highly variable. Let’s not forget that the Forbidding was already wide open by the time Amberle completed her quest, and there have been numerous events that might have drained her strength (the events in High Druid, for one).

Any other Terry Brooks readers want to share their thoughts on this?