Monday, March 26, 2012
Beyonders book 2: Seeds of Rebellion - by Brandon Mull
The first thing I noticed was that Brandon Mull was able to effectively review the characters of the first book without doing the annoying "this is what happened in the first book" recap. I appreciated this more than I expected because I wanted to dive right into the story....but I also knew that it has been about a year since I read the first book, so my memory on the characters was pretty rusty. So for those of you that have memories like mine, I'll include at the bottom a small list of the main characters and names from the first installment.
Over the last year, I've wondered what Brandon Mull would do with Rachel stuck in Lyrian and Jason back home in the "Beyond". But no fear, Mull transports Jason back to Lyrian in the very first chapter, though he does it in such a way that makes me question whether Jason will ever make it back to the Beyond...not just the feasibility of it, but whether Jason will even want to go back. He immediately meets up with Tark, encounters a curious race of giants (that are midgets during the day and giants during the night), and starts being followed by a lurker, also known as a torivor. For a while, Jason is on his own, but gradually he makes his way through the countryside, toward a point where he hopes to meet up with Galloran, Tark, and some others. Along the way he picks up Aram, a half-giant bodyguard.
Like the first book, Seeds of Rebellion is largely a traveling adventure story. The Rebel group grows as it travels from place to place, gaining momentum and purpose. First they seek to rescue the guardians of the syllables, because their job is worthless (the word being proven a fake) and Maldor is moving against them. Jason and his group meet up with Rachel and Drake who find him with a special spell the Charm Woman gave them. Once they rescue Corinne, who turns out to be Galloran's daughter, they turn their attention toward a drowned city, where Galloran knows they can obtain and kingdom's worth of orantium (the grenade-like explosives we see in the first book.) Rachel shows exceptional promise speaking Edomic (the language the world was made in, the language of power and magic that the wizard of old used) and becomes more and more powerful as she practices controlling matter and animals. It seems like there is nothing she cannot do, she is such an "adept" (as they call her.)
They reach the land of the Amar Kabal, where the large party rests and Galloran makes a case for the seed people to join them in their cause. Many of the Amar Kabal are extremely reluctant to go to open warfare with the emperor, but eventually agree to send a delegation to the last known oracle in order to determine whether or not the Rebel cause stands a chance against Maldor. This quest comprises the rest of the book, and takes the traveling group through some harrowing adventures among which are a dangerous wind tunnel, encounters with worm-ridden zombies, help from a fast growing race that can eat anything and never needs to sleep (the drinlings), and blow-dart wounds from which grow a deep rooted moss.
Though I don't usually like the "travel here and there on a vague quest and have adventures" kind of books, Brandon Mull is in high creative form in Seeds of Rebellion and kept me interested through every chapter to the very end (and beyond, into the "extra scenes" that are included in the book.) The book is also incredibly funny--besides the creativity, this is probably my favorite thing about it. Ferrin the displacer has a wonderful wit, and it's such fun to see Jason and Rachel's sarcasm playing off each other even as they highlight the fact that Lyrian is not their real home. It seems almost another element of realism in the story that the main characters are punching jokes in moments of gravest danger. It relieves tension and seems even funnier. Probably my favorite specific parts of the book are Galloran fighting. Mull deftly paints images and emotions so that I see the scenes in my mind like a movie, and these parts are extremely exciting and gratifying moments of victory for the Rebel group. Even if some of you think it might have a slow beginning, stick it through to the end--you won't be sorry. This story will stick with you and make you impatient for next spring when the last book in the trilogy will be released.
*My new review of the third book is now up: Chasing the Prophecy
Main characters and places from Beyonders: A World Without Heroes.
Jason and Rachel: the two Beyonders that find themselves in Lyrian, fighting against the evil emperor, Maldor. (Felrook being Maldor's home/castle.)
Ferrin: the displacer who helped Jason escape from Felrook and separated from one of his hands when Jason went back home. It's unclear where his loyalties lie and whether he even has any.
Drake and Jasher: two seed people (Amar Kabal)--a wizard born race that is reborn as long as the seed at the nape of their neck gets planted after they die. They are reborn to the age and strength from when they first died. Drake and Jasher helped Jason escape from Harthenham (which, you'll remember is the place of "The Eternal Feast" where Maldor sends he most competent opponents as a bribe to keep out of his way.)
Galloran: The Blind King, and leader of the rebellion against the emperor until he was captured and tortured (and blinded) in Felrook.
Corinne also plays a role in this book. She was one of the guardians of the syllables--the girl confined inside a tree where mushrooms created a alternate reality. She was one person with all her memories of inside the tree and another person with different memories outside the tree.
Tark: the sousalax player that was among the Giddy 9 (the musical group trying to make a statement by taking a raft over a waterfall). Tark was rescued from the raft, the only to survive. Jason found him wasting away in Harthenham and helped him escape.