This is the fantasy novel

A Knight of the Word is the second novel in the Word/Void trilogy by Terry Brooks, written as a prequel to his Shannara series. It was first published in 1998 by Ballantine's Del Rey division (ISBN 0-345-37963-2). The setting is primarily Seattle, Washington around Halloween in 2002, five years after the events of Running with the Demon. The story follows John Ross as he attempts to leave his life in service to the Word, while Nest Freemark tries to restore his faith. It is followed by the novel Angel Fire East.

Plot summary

John Ross, having failed on a mission from the Word in which fourteen school children were killed in San Sobel, California, tries to leave his life as a Knight of the Word behind him. He had returned to Fairy Glen in Wales in order to tender his resignation to the Lady, but she would not appear to him. Instead, he met the ghost of his ancestor, Owain Glyndwr, who informs him that the decision to give up being a Knight is not his to make. Frustrated, John returned to America, met his beautiful girlfriend Stefanie, and now works for a homeless center in Seattle. He ignores his now-infrequent dreams, including one especially frequent one in which he has killed his much-beloved boss, Simon Lawrence.

Simon Lawrence is known locally as "the Wizard of Oz", because of his successful charity ventures in Seattle (AKA the Emerald City). He is being investigated for financial impropriety by a Demon-influenced reporter named Andrew Wren. This demon is a changeling. During the day it works to subvert, and morphs into a giant hyena-like creature to feed on the homeless underneath Seattle at night.

Nest Freemark, now a 19-year-old college student has returned to Hopewell, Illinois for the weekend before Halloween. She reflects on the events over the last five years, including her grandfather's death in the spring, Wraith's disappearance when she turned 18, and the fact that she no longer has contact with most of her childhood friends, as well as John Ross. She has not used her magic in years and is unsure if she has it any longer. She travels with her twiggy sylvan companion, Pick, through the park and has an encounter with a tatterdemalion (a ghost-like messenger of the Word formed from the memories of dead children) named Ariel. Nest learns that John Ross is in need of her help and reluctantly agrees to fly to Seattle to talk to him. She is disturbed to learn that John is now especially vulnerable to falling to the side of the Void, and the Word has dispatched someone who will kill him if this happens. This resounds with Nest, as she recalls that John would have killed her five years ago if she had turned to the Void herself.

Arriving in Seattle, Nest takes a walk at night with Ariel accompanying her, and can hear the demon hunting and killing people in the underground city. Ariel doesn't let her go after it. She meets with John the next day and is unable to convince him to return to his duties as a Knight, but does cause changes in his dreams. Now John also dreams about having killed Nest. Nest also runs into O'olish Amaneh, the Word-serving Native American that she met five years before, and finds that he is the one sent to assassinate John Ross should he turn to the Void. That night, Ariel informs nest that Boot, a sylvan in a local park, has seen the demon. Just as they were getting crucial information from Boot, however, the demon attacks them in its hyena form and kills Boot, his owl Audrey, and Ariel. It chases Nest through a nearby residential area but she narrowly escapes on a bus. Later that night, the demon sets fire to the homeless shelter and John and Stefanie rescue many tenants, but one of their coworkers is killed in the fire. John feels exceedingly groggy and foggy-headed that night when Stefanie was trying to wake him to help her deal with the fire, and he is troubled by this.

The next day, Halloween, John and Nest meet. They share information and decide that Nest should get out of town. Andrew Wren, now mysteriously in possession of demon-provided evidence that John and Simon appear to have been embezzling, meets with John and leaves him with the suspicion that Simon is the demon. His suspicions are reinforced when Stefanie informs John that Simon has fired him to distance himself from the scandal. John heads to the art museum, where a fund raising event is occurring, and confronts Simon. Simon reveals himself to be a demon, nearly kills John, and leaves him on the floor. John repents for his faltering in his service to the Word and is once again infused with magic to heal and strengthen him. John searches for Simon again with the intent to kill him, but just has he finds him, Nest intervenes. She realized before leaving town that Stefanie is actually the demon, because of the similarities between her actions and those of Nest's father (who was also a demon), not to mention the timing issues and other evidence that reveals this truth. John realizes the truth - that he has been led toward the Void ever since Stefanie came into his life after San Sobel. Stefanie, as a shape-shifter had forged checks to create the embezzlement situation, attacked Nest and her friends in the park, set fire to the homeless shelter to provide an excuse/reason for the wounds she had sustained trying to kill Nest, lied about John being fired, and morphed into Simon at the museum so John would be tricked into killing the real, innocent Simon and completing his turn to the Void.

Finally, John confronts the demon Stefanie at his apartment. Faced with the demon's onslaught as it escapes John and crashes to the street below where Nest is waiting, she finds that Wraith has not left her. Instead, Wraith lives within her, and Nest can change into Wraith in response to threatening dark magic. She and John destroy Stefanie. Nest returns to Hopewell, and John resumes his service as a Knight of the Word, once again using his dreams to change things in the present to improve the future and keep the Void at bay.


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