In 1977, after seven years of part-time writing and editing, attorney-turned-novelist Terry Brooks introduced a fantasy- hungry readership to a post-post-apocalyptic land. It was populated by mankind, dwarves, gnomes, trolls and elves. The latter were named after "creatures from age-old myths," and they battled each other in the world of Shannara.
The first title in the first trilogy was "The Sword of Shannara," followed by a lengthy (and somewhat confusing) bibliography of more "Shannara" and "Shannara"-related titles, and other series.
In the first trilogy, references were made to "Elfstones," multicolored gemlike stones possessed of magical powers when they are gathered in sets of three. For fans, the lack of specific information about the Elfstones in Brooks' later "Shannara" books has been maddening. Now Brooks is fixing that.
"I decided for the 35th anniversary of the series I would do something my fans have asked of me for years," Brooks said on the phone from his Seattle home. "I'm answering their questions: What happened to all the Elfstones that disappeared? Where are they, and what are they, really?"
Brooks began his Elfstones explanation in August with the first book in his "Dark Legacy of Shannara" trilogy, titled "Wards of Faerie" (Del Rey, $28, 384 pages). In part, the promotional copy reads, "Whoever captures the Elfstones and their untold powers will surely hold the advantage in the devastating clash to come."
"The Bloodfire Quest" will follow in March, in turn followed by "Witch Wraith" in July.
Meanwhile, if you missed the start of the epic series, the annotated 35th-anniversary edition of "The Sword of Shannara," including an introduction by the author, went on sale Nov. 13 (Del Rey, $35, 544 pages).
By the way, "Sword" holds the distinction of being the first fantasy paperback to make it onto the New York Times best-seller list. Brooks appeared for The Bee Book Club in 2001.
Austen, Tolkien events
A couple of pretty cool events are coming to the Sacramento Public Library's central branch:
The Jane Austen Birthday Tea Party is the third annual homage to the famed English romantic- fiction author (1775 to 1817).
Featured will be a harpist, a silent auction of Austen-themed gifts, sweet and savory appetizers, and an English country dancing performance. Regency Era attire (1790 to 1820) is encouraged.
The party is set for 1 p.m. next Sunday. Registration is required at (916) 264-2920 or www.saclibrary.org. Admission is free to members of the Friends of the Sacramento Public Library and the Jane Austen Society; $15 at the door for nonmembers.
With the Dec. 14 release of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" very much in mind, J.R.R. Tolkien scholars and experts will gather to host a "journey" through Middle-Earth. Join the adventure at 2 p.m. Dec. 16.
The Sacramento Central Library is at at 828 I St.; (916) 264-2920 or www.saclibrary.org.
Grass Valley author lauded
The website www. shelfawareness.com publishes an e-newsletter for the folks in the book trade, aimed at shedding light on the industry's goings-on. Recently, it awarded "Book Trailer of the Day" to the promotional trailer for "Bedside Book of Bad Girls: Outlaw Women of the Midwest" by Chris Enss of Grass Valley (Farcountry, $14.95 160 pages). Check it out on YouTube. Enss specializes in nonfiction books about women of the Old West.
Give the gift of reading
Oversize coffee-table books make great seasonal gifts. Try this stack:
"Custer" by Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster, $35, 256 pages): The foremost contemporary chronicler of the West features insightful text and more than 150 rarely seen color photos and artworks, mostly unearthed in libraries and archives. In McMurtry's words, the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 (a.k.a Custer's Last Stand) "closed the great narrative of American settlement."
"Greatest Photographs of the American West," with an introduction by James C. McNutt (National Geographic, $30, 304 pages): National Geographic's expert photographers have captured the spirit of the West with sprawling images of the land, the wildlife and the people.
"Audrey: The '60s" by David Wills and Stephen Schmidt (It, $40, 296 pages): Late British actress and humanitarian Audrey Hepburn was always a class act, especially in the "decade of change." This photographic portfolio shows why. One of her quotes: "I believe that laughing is the best calorie-burner."
"Marilyn in Fashion" by Christopher Nickens and George Zeno (Running Press, $30, 288 pages): When it came to knowing what to wear and how to wear it, Marilyn Monroe was ahead of the curve. Catch her decked out in shoes by Ferragamo, bags by Gucci and gowns by Oleg Cassini and Emilio Pucci decades before those designers became international names.
"Eyewitness to World War II: Unforgettable Stories and Photographs From History's Greatest Conflict" by Neil Kagen and Stephen G. Hyslop (National Geographic, $40, 352 pages): This incredibly dramatic and moving compilation of reportage, first- person accounts and archival photos reminds us why war is hell.
"The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs," with an introduction by Malcolm Gladwell (Random House, $45, 416 pages): Since its debut in 1925, The New Yorker magazine has published works by most of the world's biggest writers. You don't have to be a dog lover to appreciate this canine- centric collection of archival articles, short stories, poems, humor, cartoons and reproductions of New Yorker covers.