I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with this book. It took me a week to really give it a chance. I thought the writing style rather rough, with awkward word choices and excessive adjectives and adverbs. But as I moved into the heart of the adventure, I became hooked. Once I really started, I finished it in just two days, and it’s a 450 page book. Here’s what got me:
Jason Walker happened upon the strangest portal between worlds ever. After an episode involving a hippopotamus and the musical group The Giddy Nine (you’ll have to read about it on your own), he found himself in Lyrian where he stumbles upon The Book of Salzared. “Be cautioned, Reader,” the book warns. “Some knowledge can never be unlearned. Such is the secret contained herein. Proceed only in defiance of this gravest warning, for the dire words that follow will set You in opposition to Maldor evermore.”
Jason keeps reading, and he’s handed a quest: find all six syllables of the word that will destroy Maldor, the evil wizard who holds all Lyrian in his power. “By reading these words You have nominated Yourself to recover the Key Word, the only hope of deposing my Lord and Tyrant. Move swiftly. The knowledge You now possess marks You for prompt execution. The first syllable is “a.” Now depart! Let not my sacrifice be in vain. Away!”
Brandon Mull may not be the smoothest writer, but he’s infinitely creative! Jason is aided by a “displacer” a wizardborn race who can remove their body parts and reconnect them at will, and by an Amar Kabal, a race that can die and grow anew from a seed at the base of their skull. He’s hunted by manglers, conscriptors, even a torivor, and he must duel an evil nobleman to the death with billiard balls. But with the help of another Beyonder named Rachel (from Washington), he perseveres. Ever he looks for a way home, but he also keeps in mind the words of Galloran, the noble Blind King who challenged Maldor and failed, “heroism means doing the right thing regardless of the consequences.” Lyrian’s quest becomes his own.
On the downside, A World Without Heroes contains several bloody moments. Jason has undertaken a quest that sets him in opposition to a great evil, and there are casualties. Also, the book begins with the sounds of torture echoing through Maldor’s dungeon and with Galloran’s memories of suffering (both instrumental in turning me off). And The Book of Salzared is a little gruesome, bound with that man’s warm, living flesh and inscribed with his blood. Other than these squeamish moments, the book is clean, unobjectionable and infinitely intriguing.
In conclusion, I’ve never before recommended a book that took me five days to dig into. Yet after hating the first chapter or two, I fell in love with Mr. Mull’s imagination. I give his story a hearty thumbs up. 10+
The next two installments in The Beyonders series are due out in spring 2012 and spring 2013.
Kindle available in title link.