*This article originally appeared in the May 17, 2001 edition of the Syracuse Islander Newspaper.
From Brandon Mull, the New York Times Best-selling author of the well-loved Fablehaven series, comes a new adventure with the same imaginative discovery that will delight old-time fans and entice new readers. A World Without Heroes is the first in a series of books that invites the reader to enter the world of Lyrian—where the people live in fear of Maldor, their malicious wizard emperor, and any would-be heroes have long been vanquished.
Food to eat while reading: Lumba Berry Pie
Jason Walker loves baseball and his predictable job at the zoo. When he accidentally enters the world of Lyrian through the hippo tank, Jason inadvertently puts into motion a chain of events that put him on a collision course with the evil Maldor. As Jason searches for a way home, he meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. The two Beyonders soon learn that the surest way to return home is by accepting a quest for the word of power that can destroy the emperor.
Once again the local Utah author manages to create exciting places, exotic creatures and believable characters to fill his fictitious world. Climb into the book and visit a metallic castle perched high above its circling lake, a Tavern-go-round propelled by an underground river, and the Eternal Feast, where enemies of the emperor live out their days in careless luxury. Dine with Rachel and Jason as they discover Puckerlies that bear a resemblance to oysters, the enormous white Oklinder fruit and the Lumba berry pie that gives satisfaction but starves the addicted diner of nutrients. Help Jason battle with giant, man-eating frogs, machine-animal hybrids called manglers, and clever displacers who can sever their body parts at will.
Mull continues to prove his ability to please his audience with imaginative storylines while proving that young adults don’t need to be spoon-fed. The story is exciting and suspenseful but doesn’t sacrifice intelligence in its vocabulary or ideals. Adults who read the Beyonders series may need to keep a dictionary on hand.
A World Without Heroes explores the idea that a hero is someone who does the right thing regardless of the consequences (p. 420). Jason and Rachel meet with many would-be heroes who chose selfish sanctity or protect themselves by serving a master they do not believe in. Alternately, they encounter heroes in disguise who give up their identity, power and even the days of their lives to the cause of right. One such character expresses an idea that rings true to the reader, “It will be well worth the sacrifice. I’ve been waiting for this, Jason. I’m not sure I knew I was waiting, but I was.” (p.405).
I have to say that I was disappointed with the romance portion of the book. Because the Beyonders series is being marketed as YA, I expected there to be more sexual tension between the two main characters. Perhaps Mull stayed away from the romance on purpose, but the lack of it was glaring to me.
Readers can expect moderate fantasy-style violence, and no harsh language or explicit scenes.
Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven series was awarded a spot on the New York Times top ten best-selling children's series list. Seeds of Rebellion, the second book in the Beyonders series is scheduled to be out in spring of 2012 and a third will follow in spring 2013.