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Beyond the Summerland

by L. B. Graham
Series: The Binding of the Blade #1
593 pages, Fantasy
Reviewed by Lady Meriwen

An entertaining fantasy with definite symbolism.

Plot

It is the third age in Kirthanin, thousands of years since the once-beautiful Malek rebelled against Allfather and set the world wrong. Now, again, evil is threatening the peaceful realm. As one of the Novaana, Joraiem must set aside his life of ease and accept his destiny, facing foes that only months before had been the stuff of legend. Soon the battle takes on an intensely personal tone, forcing Joraiem to reconsider his loyalties and his love.

Morality

Good, as represented by the servants of Allfather, and evil, as represented by the servants of Malek, are clearly defined and at constant variance.

Spiritual Content

This story is definitely allegorical, the most obviously symbolic figures being Allfather, who represents God, and Malek, who represents Satan. Those on the side of Allfather pray to him and invoke his blessing on their undertakings. They also cite the belief that he will one day make all things new.

Violence

Not much, but what there is, is graphically described. Creatures are shot with arrows. A man tells the story of how his face was clawed by a malekim. Two men are "ripped open" by malekim, resulting in the death of one of them. A man is stabbed through the heart, and another man is twice wounded in the leg.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Arrows are tipped with poison. Occasional mention of pipes being smoked.

Sexual Content

There are several romances in the story; one of them involves a woman who is married to another man, though there is no adultery.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

Nothing beyond an occasional "What in Allfather's name?"

Conclusion

As a simple fantasy, this book was delightful. For the most part the characters were richly drawn, and the land of Kirthanin had its own particular feel, adding to the believability of the story. Some of the dialogue felt either stilted or too modern, and although the author's idea is original, he fell prey to the occasional fantasy stereotype. His love scenes are sometimes more laughable than romantic, since the relationships can be a bit cliche. In spite of such gaffes, though, I enjoyed this book - and it kept me intrigued enough to want to read the next one.

Fun Score: 4
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 13+

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