Armageddon's Children is the first novel in Terry Brooks' fantasy trilogy entitled Genesis of Shannara, which bridges the events of Brooks' Word/Void trilogy with his Shannara series. It takes place in an apocalyptic world around the year 2100 (about eighty years after the novel Angel Fire East) and details the events during the Great Wars, a historical conflict referenced frequently in the Shannara books. It is followed by The Elves of Cintra.
The world, now ravaged by nuclear war and plague, lies in ruins. Demons and their once-men underlings scour the continents, enslaving and experimenting upon what healthy young remain. Mutations from the fallout and poisons have produced offshoots from humanity - Moles (those adapted to living underground), Spiders (named for their agile, long limbs), and the scaly, brutish Lizards. Zombie-like creatures called Croaks roam free as well, searching for bodies to devour. Most humans are walled up in stadiums and arenas in large cities, fortified compounds filled with thousands of frightened refugees. A few, mostly children, live as tribes hidden in buildings on the streets.
One such tribe, the Ghosts, hide out in downtown Seattle. Their leader, Hawk, is a teenager gifted with the abilities of exceptional hearing, night vision, and keen instincts. He has prophetic dreams in which he leads a group into a new "promised land". He is accompanied by a large fierce dog, Cheney (named after a "politician from the old world"). His gang includes ten-year-old Candle, who has premonitions when danger approaches, and the wheelchair-bound motherly teen called Owl, among many others. He secretly sees Tessa, a girl from the nearby compound at Safeco Field, though they are forbidden to be together by compound law.
A young Ghost girl named River, sneaks out of the hideout. Hawk tracks her, and finds that she has been secretly visiting a man that turns out to be her Grandfather - a mad homeless man whom everyone else knows as the Weatherman (because of his incoherent meteorlogical ramblings). He is sick with a plague and Hawk grudgingly agrees to take him back to the hideout to have him cared for. Later, Hawk goes to bring medical supplies as part of a trade to one of the competing tribes, the Cats, but while he is away the rest of the gang is attacked by a mutant resembling a giant centipede. The beast is destroyed by Sparrow and Cheney, but Cheney is mortally wounded. Hawk, arriving just after the battle, cradles Cheney and mysteriously the dog's life is restored. Confused, Hawk sets out to visit Tessa, but is captured by guards at the Safeco compound. He and Tessa are sentenced to death for breaking the law of the compound.
Meanwhile, deep in the Oregon woods exists the Cintra, the largest Elven settlement in the world. The Elven nation has been around for millennia, choosing to live in hidden kingdoms around the world ever since mankind came into dominance. Long ago in Age of Faerie, Elves had conquered the demon hordes that ruled the planet, sealing the forces into another world called the Forbidding. The linchpin of the barrier that keeps the demons in the Forbidding is the Ellcrys, a sentient tree that resides in the Cintra. The Ellcrys is protected by Chosen, teenaged guards specially selected by the tree herself. The Ellcrys telepathically tells two of these guardians (Kirisin and his cousin Erisha, the Elven King's daughter) that a force is coming that will forever change the world. The Ellcrys tells them that they must find the Elfstones and use them to locate the Loden, which the tree can be sealed within for protection and transport. The King behaves suspiciously when they tell him of the Ellcrys' message, and refuses to act. Erisha and Kirisin then try to sneak into the library to find out more information about the Elfstones, but are caught by someone unrevealed to the reader.
Elsewhere, there are two remaining Knights of the Word (warriors chosen by the Word to fight evil, and equipped with magical staves) still trying to defend humanity. One is named Angel Perez, who has been rescuing children from a besieged compound in Anaheim. She is pursued by the demon Findo Gask (whom Nest outwitted in the novel Angel Fire East) and his second-in-command, the scaly superwoman Delloreen. After narrowly escaping death in an encounter with Delloreen after rescuing the children, Angel is confronted by a tatterdemalion, a messenger of the Word, named Ailie. Angel is told of the existence of Elves, and instructed to head north and seek the Loden Elfstone. She does so, but not without some level of disbelief. After commandeering an abandoned all terrain vehicle, she heads north, barely escaping another attack from Delloreen.
Halfway across the continent, another Knight has been raiding slave compounds, freeing whom he can and destroying those that have been changed into demons. His name is Logan Tom, and he has an encounter in a park outside of Hopewell, Illinois, with the Native American named O'olish Amaneh, also a servant of the Word. O'olish brings him to the gravesite of Nest Freemark, and tells Logan of the events of the novel Angel Fire East. Logan learns that a gypsy morph, a powerful magic in the form of a child, was born long ago to Nest, and now is the time for the boy to fulfill his destiny and lead his people into a new world. O'olish produces the bones of Nest Freemark's right hand, and shows Logan how, by casting the bones, they will point in the direction of the gypsy morph. He is instructed to find the morph and give him the bones, and the morph would then know what to do.
Logan heads west, and along the way runs into a man known as the Preacher who safeguards a small house of elderly. He also runs into a group of Spiders in the Rocky Mountains, who tell him of a rogue Knight that had passed that way previously, into an area where they claim the spirits of the dead appear. Logan continues on. He does not come upon the Knight, but is surrounded by an impassable mist filled with images of people who have died in his past. He is forced to confront each memory, including the death of his family, his former mentor, and others, before he can pass, but he finds that the experience has caused his memories of these tragedies to fade.
Finally, using Nest's bones as a guide, Logan reaches the Ghost hideout in Seattle. He tells the Ghosts his story, and they come to realize that the gypsy morph must be Hawk, who had just left to meet Tessa. Far to the south, Findo Gask has felt the magic emanating from Hawk when the dog Cheney was healed and identified it as the gypsy morph's as well. Logan is able to gain entrance into the Safeco compound and give Hawk the bones of Nest Freemark, and Hawk instantly realizes who he is. He recalls his mother, her life and death, and his beginning to age afterwards with his previous memory erased. However, he still doesn't know what he is supposed to do to fulfill his vision.
Unfortunately, Logan is unable to save Hawk from his sentencing--Hawk and Tessa are thrown from the top of the compound. Elsewhere in the city, Owl and the Ghosts are preparing to abandon Seattle, Sparrow sees what she believes is a demon invasion army coming in from the ocean.
Characters in Armageddon's Children
- Logan Tom, Knight of the Word
- Angel Perez, Knight of the Word
- Hawk, leader of the Ghosts tribe
- O'olish Amaneh (Two Bears), a Native American messenger for the Word
- Nest Freemark, a deceased warrior for the Word, and Hawk's mother
- Findo Gask, the demon commander of a Void army
- Kirisin Belloruus, an Elf and a member of the Chosen
- Erisha Belloruus, the Elven King's daughter and another Chosen
- Cheney, Hawk's dog
- Owl (Margaret), a member of the Ghosts
- Candle, a member of the Ghosts
- Panther, a member of the Ghosts
- Bear, a member of the Ghosts
- River, a member of the Ghosts
- Chalk, a member of the Ghosts
- Fixit, a member of the Ghosts
- Sparrow, a member of the Ghosts
- Squirrel, a member of the Ghosts
- River, a member of the Ghosts
- The Weatherman, River's mad, homeless grandfather
- Tiger, leader of the Cats tribe
- Persia, Tiger's ill younger sister
- Tessa, member of Safeco Field compound and Hawk's illicit girlfriend
- Ethan Cole, Chairman of Safeco Field compound
- Helen Rice, member of Anaheim compound
- The Preacher, minister to a community of elderly in the Midwest
- Ailie, a tatterdemalion sent by the Word
- The Lady, the voice of the Word
- Arissen Belloruus, King of the elves and Erisha's father
- Biat, an Elven Chosen
- Raya, an Elven Chosen
- Jarn, an Elven Chosen
- Giln, an Elven Chosen
- Culph, an Elven historian
- Delloreen, a demon and Findo Gask's second-in-command
- Klee, a demon under Findo Gask
- Arlen, a demon under Findo Gask
- Tyler Tom, Logan's brother
- Megan Tom, Logan's sister
- Juan Gonzales, mentor to Angel Perez
- Michael Poole, a warrior for the Word
- Fresh, a warrior for the Word
- Robert, a warrior for the Word
- Jena, a warrior for the Word
- Wilson, a warrior for the Word