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Mull, "Beyonders -- A World Without Heroes" (reviewed by Karen Hamilton) Options · View
Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 2:31:04 PM

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Title: Beyonders – A World Without Heroes
Author: Brandon Mull
Publisher: Aladdin (an imprint of Simon and Shuster)
Genre: Fiction
Year Published: 2011
Number of Pages: 454
Binding: Hardback
ISBN13: 978-1-4169-9792-4
Price: $19.99

Reviewed by Karen Hamilton for the Association for Mormon Letters

Brandon Mull has a wide writing range. With his latest book, the feel is a lot different than the Fablehaven series. Beyonders has a much more sinister and dark feel to it. Lyrian is a world that is ruled by fear, danger, corruption and suspicion. The resistance fighters have been bought off, broken or killed, thus leaving this world without any brave or foolish enough to fight against Maldor, the malicious wizard emperor.

“The prince raised his head. 'I will never serve you. You have defeated me, but you will never own me.' He owed these words to those who had died for him. He owed the words to himself. To be destroyed was one thing. At least he had not surrendered.” (pg. 7)

The Prologue is an example of what happens to the “enemies” of the ruling Wizard Maldor. I found this to be an unsettling way to begin an adventure. As unsettling as it is, it is a great way to hook a reader. The dungeons of Maldor are riveting and a compelling introduction to the land of Lyrian. They are also alluded to throughout the story.

Jason Walker is the main male protagonist. He is thirteen and the youngest of his family. Everything that the reader learns about his family is through inference. Jason has his own plan that he has added to his parents’ plan for him. At the age of thirteen he has a job at the local zoo cleaning out enclosures. Jason loves animals and would rather be around them than anything else. So between his love for animals and wanting to get a baseball scholarship, he doesn’t exactly fit in with his family.

When he goes to the zoo for his afternoon job, he hears a sound coming from the hippo enclosure. Jason decides to investigate and ends up falling into the enclosure with the hippo. When the hippo opens its mouth, the sound becomes musical, and it swallows Jason. Instead of dying he ends up coming out of a tree in the world of Lyrian.

The cultural shock is what gets Jason started on his path to find a way home. After witnessing a tragic event and trying to help prevent it from happening, he ends up stumbling through a forest to a hidden library. Here he learns about the recent history of Lyrian. What he learns sends him on his quest. Along the way he receives help from various allies.

At one of the first stops he meets Rachel, who is another beyonder and the main female protagonist. Rachel is homeschooled and came to Lyrian in a completely different way. She was on a field trip to Arches when she saw an unusual butterfly and followed it through an arch. She ends up next to a cottage of a dead woman. Rachel is a runner and a bit of a know-it-all. She is stubborn and has a hard time with Jason’s chivalry.

As the protagonists, Jason and Rachel, learn to work together, they learn to trust each other while on a quest for a magic word. This word is rumored to be the key to destroy Maldor and restore peace to Lyrian.

Jason and Rachel are in a world where creatures are both magical and non-magical. Ferrin is a displacer. Displacers can be chopped up and still survive. They also have other abilities that make displacers very unpopular. Jasher is a seed person. Seed people can be reborn, if their seed falls into fertile ground. They are also mighty warriors who can hold grudges for centuries. I find both of these “wizard-born” characters fascinating. Jason and Rachel meet Ned, a greedy innkeeper, and Tark, the remaining musician of the Giddy Nine. Along with others they meet, some help and others hinder.

There is much that Jason and Rachel endure that the reader has to guess at. Between point A and point B, there is a lot of growing that happens in order for Jason and Rachel to make the decision they make. Both of them act much older than the typical thirteen-year old. One of the characteristics that will appeal to the younger readers is that Jason and Rachel are able, through a combination of luck and wits, to outsmart those who are after them.

Brandon Mull really adds to the story with his ability to create inventive and interesting magics, landscapes and creatures. While the quest seemed simplistic, the twists that Mull introduces, especially at the end of the book, make for an exhilarating spin on the story. A shocking revelation at the end promises to bring an excellent sequel in Seeds of Rebellion. It will engross both boys and girls between 3rd to 8th grade, and after the revelations at the end, even a much older reader such as myself can't wait for the next book in this exciting series.
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