(Today I’m snatching my blog back from my characters to review a book, but I suspect they’ll be taking charge of it again very soon.)
Cantor D’Ahma waited his whole life for this day. Born with a gift to jump between worlds, the young realm walker is finally ready to leave his elderly mentor and accept his role as protector and defender of the realms.
But mere hours after he steps through his first portal, Cantor discovers that his job will be more dangerous and difficult than he ever imagined. The realms are plagued with crime and cruelty, and even members of the once-noble Realm Walkers Guild can no longer be trusted. To make matters worse, his first assignment---finding a dragon to assist him on his quest---has led him to Bridger, who is clearly inept and won’t leave him alone.
With the help of his new friends Bixby and Dukmee, Cantor must uncover the secrets of the corrupt guild before they become too powerful to be stopped. But his skills aren’t progressing as fast as he would like, and as he finds himself deeper and deeper in the guild’s layers of deceit, Cantor struggles to determine where his true allegiance lies.
I won this book in a giveaway and, well, may have been jumping up and down when I realized I won. Donita K. Paul is one of my absolute favorite authors. Her DragonKeeper Chronicles series and Chiril Chronicles trilogy are some of my favorite books of all time. So when I heard she was writing a story about people who could jump between different realms? Uh. . .givemegivemegiveme!
I was not disappointed.
The first book in The Realm Walkers series was a delight. Donita K. Paul is not shy about her creativity, and that’s what I love about her books. She throws in the most ridiculous, unique ideas and somehow makes them work. Her stories are always full of fun, unexpected surprises, and One Realm Beyond was no exception.
Cantor, our hero, is finally ready to fulfill his destiny as a realm walker, one who can literally jump from one realm to another. He’s waited all his life to finally embark on his adventures, but things don’t exactly go quite as planned. With corruption spreading across the realms, Cantor is forced to seek help from a bit of a. . .motley group to stop this evil from spreading too far.
My absolute favorite thing about Paul’s writing is her characters. Never in all my years of obsessive reading have I ever come across more unique characters than hers.
First you have Cantor, the independent, spontaneous, and sometimes pretty foolish boy who really just wanted to roam the worlds. His impulsive personality keeps things interesting as he always tends to find himself in some sort of trouble or another. But he means well, and I liked that. Though he often doesn’t make the right decisions, he wants the best for everyone. There was a real humanness to him that I appreciated.
Then you’ve got Bixby who was just an all around delight. How can you not love a girl who wears almost her entire wardrobe all at once? Bubbly is the perfect word for this hyperactive girl. What I really loved about her was the fact that, even though she can take care of herself and is quite the adventurous one, she NEVER is trying to be “one of the boys”, like most stereotypical fantasy females. She’s a girl through and through. Lace is her absolute favorite thing, and she will stop right in the middle of an adventure to rearrange her wardrobe to fit the occasion. Paul deserves a medal for this full-of-personality character. The whole book is worth reading just for the fun that is Bixby.
Bridger is another character who oozes with personality. He’s a shapeshifting dragon. Yes, a SHAPESHIFTING DRAGON. Did I not tell you this author comes up with the most unique ideas? Bridger can shapeshift into anything and everything, which makes him quite useful. Too bad he counters it with his clumsiness. Poor Bridger, as hard as he tries always tends to find a way to mess things up. But it just makes him all the more loveable. I would almost say he’s my favorite character, but I don’t know if I have a right to say that with Bixby around and. . .
DUKMEE. Ah, Dukmee. He was purely magnificent. His easy-going (but sometimes quite sassy) personality had me squealing every time he was on the pages. He serves as a bit of mentor to the others and does his best to keep the energetic crew in line. I can hardly even pinpoint why I loved him so much, I just did.
As you can see, I could go on and on and on about the characters, but I better stop there. Let me just say this book is worth reading for them alone.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the world itself. This world is entirely separate from the world in the Dragonkeeper and Chiril Chronicles books. Though I found that world a bit more interesting, I still absolutely adored the setting in this book. It still has a very fantasy feel that I love, but there’s something unique about it, almost a tinge of a modern-type living style in a medieval world. I can’t really explain it, but I loved it. It was very well done. Not to mention that there are multiple realms to jump to. (Have I ever mentioned I LOVE world jumping stories?)
This is also a Christian fantasy story, which happens to be my favorite genre. The love of God abounds, represented by the Creator of all things, Primen, the God-figure of the world. Cantor and his companions learn through their trials the mercy of their Creator and to fully rely on Him.
I got so caught up in the fun world and terrific characters, the plot almost got lost to me. Sometimes I felt as if there wasn’t quite enough explanation to certain events and the villains’ nefarious deeds. For a good chunk of the book I hardly even understood what the overall problem was. There were a lot of questions I had that were never answered.
I also felt as if much of the plot was simply random events that didn’t tie much into the overall scheme of things, which may be why I often got confused along the way.
To me, it needed a bit of a thicker, connected plot. While I did LOVE this book, I enjoyed Paul’s other series a good bit better. But, I have to keep in mind, this is only the first book of a series. It was a good “setup book”, setting the rest of the series up for much more fun and excitement. I suspect as the books go on, the plot will get much more deep and interesting.
Also, the ending was a bit of a cliffhanger. Like I said, this book really just felt like a setup for the rest of the series. So thou art warned.
Overall, this book was superb. I find it impossible to not enjoy Paul’s stories. Her fun characters and interesting worlds pull you in from the start. She manages to write stories that are perfect for younger readers and older alike. I highly recommend One Realm Beyond to anyone who enjoys a fun, clean, fantasy adventure.
(I formatted my review a bit differently from my previous reviews in hopes that it would be shorter. I tend to get a bit. . .lengthy when it comes to my reviews. But it didn’t work. >.> Sorry for the long review!
And now that I’m done, my characters are determined to take back the blog so I can continue their story. Elan especially has been pining away for his turn, so expect to see him [hopefully] next Monday.)