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Beyond the Summerland (The Binding of the Blade, Book 1) Paperback – June 1, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A staggering accomplishment. The vibrancy and scope of L.B. Graham’s world-building deserves highest praise. Add in well-rounded and memorable characters, thematic richness, and high adventure, and you have an unbeatable formula for success. Ranks right up there with Tolkien and Lawhead as among the best Christian novels of the fantastic ever written." --Jan P. Dennis, discoverer of Frank Peretti, Stephen R. Lawhead, and Ted Dekker

"L. B. Graham is a marvelous storyteller: His words are vivid and powerful, his imagination unbound. Best of all, he uses a breathtaking array of thought candy—high adventure, tragedy, romance, heroism, suspense, danger. A lot of fantasy novels claim to be ‘in the tradition of Lord of the Rings’—Beyond the Summerland truly lives up to this praise." --Robert Liparulo, contributing editor of New Man magazine and author of the novel Comes a Horseman

"L. B. Graham’s first book in The Binding of the Blade series takes hold of the reader, building one compelling event upon another, and races toward an utterly surprising conclusion." --Dr. Kent Gramm, Pulitzer prize nominated author of November: Lincoln’s Elegy at Gettysburg

About the Author

L. B. Graham (BA Literature, Wheaton College; MDiv, Covenant Seminary) is chairman of the Bible department and teacher of English and Worldviews at Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis. He has written several articles in IVP’s Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. He and his wife, Joanne, have two children.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 593 pages
  • Publisher: P & R Publishing; First Edition edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875527205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875527208
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #708,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

L.B. Graham is the author of The Binding of the Blade, a five book fantasy series, the first of which, Beyond the Summerland, was a Christy Finalist in 2005. He writes fantasy/sci-fi and contemporary adult fiction. He teaches Worldviews and serves as the Bible Department Chair at Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis. More information about his published works and forthcoming titles can be found at lbgraham.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel is adept at good characterization and world-building. It is a coming-of-age story for a group of future leaders of Kirthanin. It involves dragons, Great Bear, giants, dark wolves, Malekim, an ancient prophet, Titans, and many other impressive fantasy creatures and people. It is a strong Christian allegory in the tradition of Lewis, though the characters representing angels are presented in a style representative of powerful men of ancient myth. This adds to the fantasy flavor. From Allfather to the powerful, twisted Malek, the story is filled with many imaginative protagonists and antagonists. The adventures are equally impressive and help develop the main characters well.

The controversial ending was hinted at throughout the story, and since I have read the second book, I can say that it was necessary in light of the continuing story.

The only small fault is that some of the dialogue seems a bit too modern in places and not "medieval" enough. That was very minor and doesn't hurt the story as a whole. This is an excellent book and I recommend picking it up!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fantasy readers will love it, and even those not addicted to fantasy should like it A LOT too. I couldn't put it down once I got into it. A compelling plot with complex characters and an in-depth world. I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it is refreshing to read a book by an author who loves Tolkien but does not simply mimic him. Beyond the Summerland is more approachable than The Lord of the Rings, but still has plenty of depth (something sadly lacking in so many fantasy books). Graham's Christian worldview also shines through, makes this book a must-have for any Christian Fantasy Lover.
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I purchased this book after reading all the rave reviews and must say that I'm very surprised that some readers would rate this book in the same league as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Before I discuss the problems of the book, let me say a word or two about its strengths. First of all, the story has potential. There are enough interesting twists and turns throughout to keep the reader reading (though don't believe all the hype about the ending being unexpected. I'll admit I was a bit surprised that Graham went through with the ending, but he did hint at it frequently throughout the book ). Second, I liked the way Graham tied hints of Greek mythology into the picture. Third, I was appreciative of the Creation-Fall-Redemption motif that undergirds the story. It provides a nice backdrop and helps hold the story together.

Having said that, this book feels highly underdeveloped on a number of levels. First, the characters are shallow and lack believability. Part of this is because they all seem too perfect (or if evil, stereotypical). Like another reviewer noted: the main character's biggest problems are whether or not to declare his love for a girl and what other people will think of that. After a while, it almost becomes silly. The characters are constantly apologizing to each other and are quickly repentant when they have done something wrong. While these characteristics are laudable, they do not reflect the messy realities of human life with its inner struggle between good and evil (for example: compare Graham's Joraiem with Tolkien's Frodo). Granted, there are villians in the story, but even they lack believable depth (the one exception to all of this is the prologue with the characters Malek and Andunin).

The second problem I had with the book was the dialogue.
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Format: Paperback
I have to admit, I was hooked from the first sentence of Beyond the Summerland. I was captivated by the whole past of Andunin and Tarlin. It was interesting how Andunin loved his son so dearly, but in the end, caused his untimely death. The ideas of the first bloodshed and war in a previously perfect world were interesting as well.

But then that part of the story ends. Enter Joraiem Andira, an utterly unremarkable character with blonde hair and blue eyes. He also happens to love and be horribly afraid of the ocean at the same time. How does that work? No one really knows. Joraiem goes a' hunting a Malekim for a chapter or so, and then spends a great deal of the first part of the book lamenting his poor decisions in love. He had his chance, but he did not speak of his undying love to Alina before she hooked up with someone else! Tragic, to say the least. But it's OK -- he finds the much hotter Wylla a bit later, and promptly forgets his former love.

Alright, enough of me dumping on Joraiem. I just found him to be...weak. Anyway, there IS alot to like about this book -- the world of Kirthanin, its past, and peoples/creatures are all done pretty well. The backstory is mostly pretty firm. It's just when the flimsy characters enter the story that the interest level goes down. Joraiem, as I said before, is rather limp, Wylla is about the same, with no outstanding characteristics that would explain why everyone loves her, and her and Joraiem's whole love story is about as deep as a sappy pop song. Wylla's brothers could've been interesting characters, if they had been given more page time. The other characters all had potential, but as with the twins, were not given enough lines for you to really tell.
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