Brandon Mull's second novel in the Beyonders series takes some cues from classic second acts like J.R.R Tolkien's The Two Towers and George Lucas' The Empire Strikes Back. In the opener, A World Without Heroes, Jason and Rachel accidentally travel from our world to Lyrian. Lyrian has been under control from the powerful Maldor, who had incapacitated all of the world's former heroes in different, yet devastating ways.
When 13-year old Jason enters Lyrian he learns part of a magical word which is the only thing that can destroy Maldor. Jason meets another Beyonder in Rachel and they scour the country finding parts of the word in the most dangerous corners of Lyrian. The word itself, however, has secrets of its own, which moves us to the second book.
Like in many great series, Mull takes time in the middle book to flesh out more characters, have them learn and grow, face new, awful tasks and get ready for the ultimate challenge. In Seeds of Rebellion, their full crew comes together with a cast of characters including a giant with a secret, a displacer who can remove body parts and a blind King. Jason is learning to be a warrior, while Rachel is learning a powerful, magical language that she is mastering to create fire and move objects.
Their attempt to gather support to overthrow Maldor is making them a huge threat. Maldor has devastating armies and creatures that he is using with increasing intensity to thwart their plans. Despite the hardships, Jason and Rachel are determined to keep working against Maldor in hopes that they can also return home to their families.
The joy for me in this book is the seemingly insurmountable odds that Mull keeps throwing at his heroes. I am a big sucker for that type of plot and the middle book/movie of any series, so I absolutely love this book. Mull is deft at sliding in philosophies and ideas into the story that creates a depth that not every kids or teen fantasy book has.
Fans of books by Tolkien, David Eddings, Charlie Fletcher and Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series will enjoy Beyonders.