Ah, “Indomitable” what am I going to do with you?
It’s not that I have anything against you as a story. As a story, you are a perfectly fine specimen. The only trouble is, you tell the same story as <Dark Wraith of Shannara and contradict it, both at the same time. My brain cannot handle the paradox! Which of you is true? What is truth?
Er. Yes. Anyway: “Indomitable” (2003) has the same basic plot as Dark Wraith of Shannara (2008), only different. Both feature Jair getting called on to destroy the last page of the Ildatch which has fallen into Mwellret hands and, as it is a fragment of the Ildatch, is up to mischief. While Jair is at it, he meets some old friends and discovers an unexpected new use for his Wishsong.
The Dark Wraith of Shannara adds Slanter, the Croton Witch, and a whole subplot involving the Keep, but leaves out some of the independent action of the Ildatch page (like burning people’s hands or deliberately surfing on air currents). Also, it adds the “graphic” in graphic novel, but otherwise, it sticks to the Ildatch/Wishsong/Mwellret plot. The two stories too close to be different stories and too different to be alternate views on the same story.
Overall, I think “Indomitable” fits the mythos better. If calling the Keep back was as simple as getting Cogline to say the right words, then Walker could’ve been spared all that trouble getting the Black Elfstone, and he could have kept his arm. And, while I know Allanon has been known to leave a thing or two out in his mission briefings, it seems unlikely he would add tests and time to Walker’s quest just for the fun of it, or even to test his resolve. The Four Lands were in danger of destruction, after all (and if he did add the business about the black Elfstone in just for fun, Walker is seriously going to have something to say to him in the afterlife). Also, Cogline never was an official druid, even if he did end up doing a lot of work for and with them, so I’m not sure why the Keep would listen to him. It’s a contrary sort of place at the best of times.
The Dark Wraith of Shannara does have Slanter in it, and Slanter is always fun. Kimber Boh has a little more to do as well, though not by much. In “Indomitable” she gets to bring the message and…cook dinner. Several dinners. Actually, I think both stories would have benefited from more Kimber. She seems a strong and independent sort, and I would have liked to see her getting to do more. I actually would have liked to see more of Kimber and Brin’s friendship, but neither tale really has time for a coffee klatch.
Both stories are quick, light reads that are a chance to visit the world of Shannara again,* and both add a new dimension to the Wishsong, one that hasn’t shown up yet in any of the books I have read. Everyone looking back thinks of Jair as just an illusionist. And both stories are a chance to sort of see Garet Jax again and to realize that he really did have an impact on Jair, which is welcome.
There it is. A short story, not a bad story, but one that leaves the historical record unclear.
*By the way, What do you call the world of Shannara? It isn’t just the Four Lands any more, so that’s out. It’s also not another place like Pern or Narnia or Tortall. It’s our world in the future, which is a bit of a mouthful.
“Indomitable” is available in numerous forms.
There’s Indomitable the book, all by itself, in a rather nice hardcover.
Then there’s “Indomitable” in Legends II where it comes packaged with stories by authors such as Neil Gaiman (a sequel to American Gods!) and Anne McCaffrey, and is available in all the multiple forms the modern world permits.
Or it comes all on its lonesome Indomitable as an ebook.
And there is here’s Dark Wraith of Shannara
Don’t forget, there is always the library for any or all of those forms. Have fun!