The second epic installment of Brandon Mull’s #1 New York Times bestselling fantasy series! After the cliffhanger ending of A World Without Heroes, Jason is back in the world he’s always known—yet for all his efforts to get home, he finds himself itching to return to Lyrian. Jason knows that the shocking truth he learned from Maldor is precious information that all of his friends in Lyrian, including Rachel, need if they have any hope of surviving and defeating the evil emperor.
Meanwhile, Rachel and the others have discovered new enemies—as well as new abilities that could turn the tide of the entire quest. And as soon as Jason succeeds in crossing over to Lyrian, he’s in greater danger than ever. Once the group reunites, they strive to convince their most-needed ally to join the war and form a rebellion strong enough to triumph over Maldor. At the center of it all, Jason and Rachel realize what roles they’re meant to play—and the answers are as surprising as they are gripping.
~ As this book references the first book in the series, please be warned: There be spoilers within. Do not read further if you do not want to have the first book spoiled! Walk away now, my friends. You have been warned. ~
After the exhilaration of the first book in the series, I was excited to return to Lyrian with Jason in order to continue the battle against Maldor. Wow, did things every pick up steam in this novel! This was a fantastic read, full of roller-coaster adventures and memorable characters; in fact, this book cemented my belief that this series will rival the Lord of the Rings series for younger adults!
Why am I so excited for this book? I loved that it broke that “Second Book Curse” that so often happens to me. Generally, the first book is amazing, but the second book is merely a bookmark book that holds the place and fills in a few details until the exciting third in the trilogy. Not this one. If anything I liked this book even better than the first, as it managed to not only sustain the thrills from book one, but built on the action and the characters to really bind the reader to the story.
As I mentioned in my review of book one (found here), I enjoyed the adventures in Lyrian more than the time in our own world, and the author gave me what I needed, moving Jason back to Lyrian and starting him on his adventure within the first twenty-five pages. It was interesting to see how much Mull has allowed Jason to mature as a character from the start of the first book; Jason was a much more focused and mature individual, determined to support his friends and to bring down Maldor despite both the obvious and the unknown risks to his own future. I really enjoyed that Jason was concerned about Rachel, and that he felt guilty for returning to his own world without her. This concern for someone beyond himself made him much more likeable to me. He is more of a team player in this book, and while he may not have the skills and strategies of his fellow travelers, he has an integrity that leads the way with his fellow quest companions. He has become legendary in Lyrian for his bravery, and he uses his notoriety not for personal gain but rather to save his companions and even to inspire them to continue.
What was equally impressive was the development of Rachel. In the first book, she was almost an outcast in two lands; homeschooled in our world with little social interaction with her peers, and a ‘Beyonder’ in Lyrian without land or contacts. In this book Rachel comes into her own as she discovers that she has a talent for Edomic magic. Being the type of girl she is, she uses her academic discipline to cultivate her craft with a variety of characters, growing her knowledge and abilities by leaps and bounds within a short period of time. Indeed, it is Rachel who manages to save the day on occasion during their many battles, and it’s wonderful to see the power of will and language as a force to defeat evil instead of strength. She truly becomes an equal partner in the quest to bring down Maldor, and she easily moves beyond the stereotype of the “girl sidekick”.
The development of the secondary characters also added to the story as we learned more about Galloran, Ferrin, Corinne and the others. Each plays an important role in the journey, and each becomes family to Jason and Rachel as they create a community to replace the ones they left behind. Each character is unique, with abilities and strengths that aid the group as they travel. Having said that, it’s important to realize that, as in real life, not everyone will make it out alive, and the deaths of certain characters (not to mentioned here) are felt deeply.
Mull is a wonderful author who paints incredible pictures for the reader, not only of the Lyrian landscape, but also of the many challenges and characters the group encounters on their travels. What impressed me was his willingness to kill off characters that we had come to know from Book One; it’s a huge risk in that you might alienate the reader, but instead it reaffirmed the level of danger faced by Jason, Rachel and their comrades. No epic journey occurs without loss, and the attacks faced by the group are vicious and deadly. The scene back in the swamp as they travel to the Drowned City had me on the edge of my seat, and the author did not disappoint, leading his characters into one precarious situation after another. Even his less action packed moments can cause unease in the reader; I still shudder at the idea of displacers using my own body to spy on a situation!
This book is as much about the journey as it is the characters, and the reader is fully invested in all that happens on the road. Each destination reached by Jason, Rachel, Galloran and the others is only reached through perseverance and a devout belief in the power of good; I can’t wait for book three to see what happens next with our travellers.
Please note: This ARC was provided by Simon & Schuster for an honest review.