Jason tumbles into a quest to save a magical in this #1 New York Times bestselling start to Brandon Mull’s Beyonders fantasy series.
Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable—until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he’s ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor 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. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.
Mull (the Fablehaven series) launches the Beyonders trilogy with a dark tale that updates classic tropes with solid contemporary characters. Thirteen-year-old Jason is transported (via hippopotamus gullet, no less) from Colorado to Lyrian, a magical world ruled by the despotic sorcerer Maldor. After witnessing some horrific deaths and learning the history of Lyrian, Jason discovers that his quest to return home might be impossible without defeating Maldor, which can only be done by finding the syllables of a long-lost magic word that erases itself from the memory of those who utter it. He's given this task by the Blind King, the last man to discover the word, who also introduces him to Rachel, another refugee from Earth. Mull throws some magical creatures including a race that can be dismembered and still live and plenty of challenges at Jason and Rachel, who must use their wits to survive. Death and betrayal often dominate the plot, but Mull moves his story at a brisk pace, preventing the tragedies from overwhelming the adventure, while offering ample action and feisty dialogue to keep fantasy lovers entertained. Ages 8 12.