Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beyonders: A World Without Heroes

By Brandon Mull

Jason 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 stranger, 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 than can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.

Death matches with billiard balls? Come on, what could be cooler?! This is the brand-spanking new trillogy from Brandon Mull, author of the fantastic and completely awesome "Fablehaven" series. I was really hoping I'd fall in love with this new story and be able to find the same magic that was in the "Fablehaven" books, but it's a completely new story filled with originality and creativity to grab on to. I liked Beyonders-a lot, and it had tons of awesome characters that tickle your imagination, and the plot is unlike anything I've read before. And I just have to put in a plug for Brandon Mull's idea of displacers; one word: FANTASTIC. What an imagination! I was laughing my head off. (But I can't tell you what they are because it would spoil the delightful surprise). The Blind King is possibly my favorite character next to Jasher, and Maldor, the evil emperor, is quite devious; let's just say I didn't see that one coming! If you are a fan of Brandon's, take a gander and find a new magical land to love. I'm pretty dang sure he's done it again...

The Wizard of Ooze

By David Farland

When the evil wormlord Sebaceous ooze uses his magical song to enslave mice to dig a volcano that will help him and his slobber goblin armies take over the world, it’s up to Amber, a mouse with magical powers, to stop him. With her devoted friends by her side- Ben, a mouse who used to be a human boy; Thorn, a genius mouse; and Bushmaster, the wise vole- Amber might stand a chance of thwarting the giant worm’s sinister plan. But with a human army on their tails and betrayal in their path, these rodents are on a quest far more dangerous than any of them anticipated. A thrilling and exciting adventure for the young and young at heart.

So, this sequel to "Of Mice and Magic" was lacking for me. The premise was much the same as the first book; there's an evil sorcerer that Ben and Amber have to vanquish, and Amber fails many times to turn Ben back into a human boy. Thorn was quite entertaining. This sequel seemed to drop a few grade levels for me, and the concept was boring. I'm going to try and read the next one, but I'm not promising anything. I'm kinda bored with this series. Not really my cuppa tea.

Taran Wanderer

By Lloyd Alexander

Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper, who wants to be a hero, goes questing for knowledge of his parentage, hoping that his journey will ennoble him in the eyes of Eilonwy, the princess with the red-gold hair. Accompanied by several loyal friends, Taran begins his search when three wily enchantresses of the Marshes of Morva send him to consult the Mirror of Llunet for the answers he is seeking, cryptically promising that “the finding takes no more than the looking.” During his adventures he meets Craddoc, the shepherd, and the common people of Prydain, whom he comes to respect and admire. With their help, he continues his mission to learn the secret of the Mirror and the truth about himself.

This is my favorite of the Prydain books. It's really a turning point for Taran, who leaves Caer Dallban of his own free will to seek his parents. Taran is a everyman kind of character, an assistant pig-keeper who desperately wants to be more for the girl he loves. This novel follows Taran as he travels through the free commots and meets all sorts of people who help him, and others who hurt him, and challenges that nearly break his heart. This is the most touching of the books, your hopes fly high with Taran's, and your heart breaks for him when he suffers. There are few characters that you will root for as much as this assistant pig-keeper who is searching to find out who he really is.

The High King

By Lloyd Alexander

When the sword of Dyrnwyn, the most powerful weapon in the kingdom of Prydain, falls into the hands of Arawn-Death-Lord, Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, and Prince Gwydion raise an army to march against Arawn’s terrible cohorts. After a winter expedition filed with danger, Taran’s army arrives at Mount Dragon, Arawn’s stronghold. There, in a thrilling confrontation with Arawn and the evil enchantress Achren, Taran is forced to make the most crucial decision of his life.

This is the final installment of the chronicles of Prydain, and I was so anxious to read it, mostly to finally find out about Taran's past. I had all kinds of precieved ideas about how Lloyd Alexander would finish out this series, but I was delighted that I was wrong in my assumptions, and even better I was still completely satisfied! Try it and you'll like it. It might seem slow at first, but keep going and you'll be glad you did.