Book: Beyonders, Chasing the Prophecy

"Beyonders: Chasing the Prophecy"

When Jason and Rachel first arrived in Lyrian, all they wanted was to find their way home. Now they know that the roles they must play are essential to the final effort in the crusade against the evil emperor, Maldor–though the cost could be their lives.

In her final prophecy the Orcale of Mianmon saw many possible futures for the people of Lyrian. But among all of those futures, she glimpsed only one unlikely course that might allow Jason, Rachel, and the heroes at their sides to defeat Maldor and restore peace to Lyiran. Her vision calls for Jason’s and Rachel’s paths to diverge as they embark on their most perilous adventures yet. Will their journeys lead them home at last, or somewhere neither could have ever imagined?

And so ends another trilogy.

I must say, I really liked how Brandon Mull tied everything together. And how realistic his characters approached their problems, how they presented them to one another and how they dealt with them with each other. Well, except Rachel. Which is probably why I was most annoyed with her in this book.

My favorite character, now that the series has ended, is probably Ferrin. The displacer really shows all the colors of a real human being–even if he’s not. We all have a choice to be good and to be bad, and I like that author Mull gives us the realities of decisions–that we can choose to be bad, and that it will be good for us, but it might not be as good to other people–including the ones we call friends.

Fantasy works best when reality is embedded in it. And I don’t mean reality as in our real world, but rather the reality of how our minds think, of how we act around other people–and how our actions have bigger repercussions than we think.

Chasing the Prophecy is a most satisfying read not only because it’s well-paced, but also because it gives us a sense of closure. For almost all the characters.

And, as a bit of fan service, almost everyone gets a heroic moment.

Well, almost all of the heroes anyway.

Closing the last book on the Beyonders trilogy, I must say that I am glad I took the journey to Lyrian. And this might actually push me to go ahead and buy and read the Fablehaven series finally. I’ll just have to check my finances first.

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Book: Seeds of Rebellion

"Seeds of Rebellion"

Jason Walker needs to find a way back to Lyrian. Rachel remains stranded there, and Jason has precious information that the friends he left behind must learn in order to have any hope of surviving and defeating the evil emperor Maldor.

When he finally succeeds in returning to the strange and imperiled world, Jason immediately finds himself in more danger than ever as the most wanted fugitive on the continent. Meanwhile, Rachel has begun to discover new abilities of her own that may prove vital against Maldor’s tyranny.

In the aftermath of a failed quest, a new mission arises–to assemble the remaining heroes of Lyrian. Can the necessary allies be convinced before the emperor crushes the young uprising? Jason, Rachel, and their band of battered heroes will face new enemies and demanding obstacles as they strive to launch a desperate rebellion.

Look, I know  “to assemble the remaing heroes of Lyrian” sounds better than “to assemble the remaining unconquered people of Lyrian,” but talk about misleading information! Number one, the first book of the Beyonders trilogy is entitled A World Without Heroes. Meaning there are no heroes left, save for Jason and Rachel who come from the Beyond. Number two, even within the book itself, there are no “battered heroes,” just a group of unlikely individuals who have to band together for a common goal.

Sure, we can argue that Galloran, the Blind King, is a hero. And almost all of the characters we meet have heroic qualities–to a fault, actually. But to call them “a band of battered heroes” is too much, I think.

That said, I didn’t enjoy this second book as much as I did the first one. The characters have a tendency to sound the same, and the new parts of Lyrian that our protagonists are exploring doesn’t seem all that original. Which is odd, because I thought the first book had a good handle on originality–and on separating the characters.

To be clear, none of the characters are the same. They all have their own personalities. My only problem with them is how they talk. If you pull a quote from the book, you would have no inkling as to which character could have said it. There were no “we could all have been killed – or worse, expelled” dialogue in this particular book. Or in the series, for that matter.

And I’m not talking about having memorable lines, just to clear that up. I’m talking about distinct dialogue that you can attribute to a single character. Jason, Drake, Ferrin and the Blind King have a tendency to have the same manner of speaking. The only thing that sets Jason apart from the three are the doubts (which Ferrin also exhibits in one of the chapters), and the our-universe lingo that Rachel–and even Nia–employs. The only thing that sets Corinne apart from Rachel is the fact that she’s seeing everything for the first time–and even those dialogue echo the ones Rachel exhibited in the first book. And let’s not even start on the seedpeople. The only one whose dialogue is really distinct from the others is Nollin–and that’s because he’s the only coward in the group.

Which, brings me to my next problem with the book. Inconsistency of character. Nollin is the perfect example, actually. He’s set up as a former chief military advisor of the seedpeople, and yet he’s played off as a cowardly comic relief during the adventures. The seedpeople are characterized to be very smart people, and the author does a good job setting up the opposing views on war with a lot of smart arguments from both sides in one of the chapters. If Nollin is as comically cowardly as he is characterized, how in the world was he allowed to be a military advisor? And if the author didn’t intend for Nollin to be comically cowardly–why did he come off as such?

Seeds of Rebellion is a good adventure book: the action scenes are solid, the journeys are well-plotted, and it doesn’t forget the events of the first book. But as far as young adult fiction go, it’s definitely not one of the best. Character is key, and none of the characters seem to be lovable, or at the least, relatable. Quite a far fall from the first novel where you were rooting for both Jason and Rachel to succeed, so they could go back home.

I still plan on reading the last book from the trilogy though. Out of goodwill for the first Beyonders novel. I’m hoping the third book would be more like A World Without Heroes and less like Seeds of Rebellion.

Still, these are just my thoughts on the book. Other people have also given their views, and it also helps to seek other opinions on things. So check these reviews on Seeds of Rebellion out:
Icey Books
Guys Lit Wire
Books for YAs

Book: A World Without Heroes

"Beyonders: A World Without Heroes" by Brandon MullJason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable—until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason transporting from the hippo tank into a strange, imperiled world.

Lyrian is full of dangers and challenges unlike any place Jason has ever known. The people live in fear of their malicious wizard emperor, Maldor. The brave resistors who once opposed Maldor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.

In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.

A World Without Heroes is the first book of the Beyonders series, written by Fablehaven author Brandon Mull. I mention Fablehaven, but don’t ask me about that series of books as I’ve yet to start reading it. If the first Beyonders book is anything to go by though, I think I will highly enjoy that series as well.

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m a big fan of fantasy novels; it is, after all, my favorite genre to escape to. And I really don’t have high expectations when it comes to things like these. I don’t know why. I have enjoyed all of the fantasy books I’ve read.

Beyonders: A World Without Heroes is not an exception.

To be quite honest with you, I only picked the book up because I was looking for a new fantasy book to read—and I didn’t know this was the first book of a new series. Had I known this, I might have gone for Fablehaven instead—at least that had all the books out already. But what’s done is done, and I think that maybe it was destined that I read this first.

Yes, I said destined. That’s the main thing I noticed about A World Without Heroes: our two protagonists were chosen, predetermined—destined to be the heroes that the world of Lyrian is looking for. Except, throughout the whole story, they are always given the choice to take the easy way out. And this is what I liked most about the first Beyonders book—the theme of choice.

Books about heroes are always better when the hero chooses to be who he is. One of the things Beyonders seems to be getting at is that no matter who you were before, it is your choices in the present that determine who you become in the eyes of people.

Jason and Rachel, our Beyonders protagonists, join the ranks of Frodo Baggins, the Pevensie children, and Richard Mayhew (Neverwhere) to name a few. These were ordinary people (and hobbit) who were thrust upon this position of great responsibility—and chose to do the right thing regardless of what it might cost.

I’m a fan of destiny buffered by choice. It sends a nice message to readers that anyone can be a hero—all you have to do is step up, and actually do something good. So I’m a fan of Beyonders—and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

If you’re wondering what other, more prolific people, have said about the book, check the following links out:
CommonSense Media
Parent Dish
Deseret News