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Beyond World's End (Bedlam Bard, Book 4) Hardcover – January 1, 2001
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Beyond World's End continues Eric Banyon's tale in the Bedlam's Bard series. Sieur Eric, Knight and Bard to the court of the Queen of Elfhame Misthold, moves back to the Big Apple to take care of unfinished business. Most notably, he wants to finish his interrupted education at Julliard and settle down to a normal life.
As Eric says goodbye to his friends Kory and Beth, he settles into a new apartment and a rigorous schedule at Julliard. However, a normal life doesn't seem to be in his immediate future as he quickly discovers his apartment has unique features, including a living gargoyle named Greystone and four Guardians who have sworn to protect New York from evil. But the evil the Guardians are facing this time is something they haven't seen before.
Unscrupulous researchers have created a drug that briefly unlocks magical powers in a small percentage of the humans it's given to. Unfortunately, it also has a 100 percent mortality rate. But something evil from Underhill has other plans and seeks to use the temporary human powers to threaten the World Above. As Eric gets drawn into the fray, his past catches up with him and good grades become the least of his problems.
Beyond World's End, which takes place in the same universe as Lackey's SERRAted Edge series, combines human evil and magical evil in a compelling way that brings the characters into today's world. Eric is all grown up now and he's a wonderful hero. However, Beyond World's End feels like it's missing the last few chapters. So much time is spent on back-story and the physical setup of the novel that many characters and their stories are introduced only to be dropped with no explanation or resolution. What could have been a great book ends up being ultimately disappointing coming from these two excellent authors. --Kathie Huddleston
From Publishers Weekly
A human bard returns to the mortal world to find himself battling both elven and human demons in this entertaining entry in Lackey's Urban Faerie series. In this sequel to Bedlam's Bard, Eric Banyon moves to New York to finish his Julliard studies as a flautist, only to find that his apartment building is a safe house for the city's magical Guardians. Together with his Guardian neighbors, his friends Beth and Kory from the previous book, and his erstwhile flame, Ria Llewellyn, Banyon uncovers both a plot to open a nexus to the elven world, Underhill, in the middle of Manhattan and a group of scientists' scheme to use psychotropic drugs to uncover magical powers in normal people. Both the scientists and Aerune, the dark prince, hope to harness the drug-induced abilities of New York's street people to build their own powerAuntil Banyon and his friends intervene. Continual references to contemporary New York life help contextualize and anchor a story that might otherwise wobble on its fantastical underpinnings. While the main characters verge on predictability, quick, vivid portraits of side characters are much more interesting. Readers will want to have read Bedlam's Bard for the back story of Lackey and Edghill's faerie world's complex geography and social structure. Even on its own merits, however, this novel's accessible blend of the urban and the whimsical will appeal to those who wonder whether the phantasmagoric walk city streets.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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"Beyond World's End" feels like a collaboration that the two authors wrote without really consulting each other. For example, near the beginning, Eric says something about being Underhill for long enough that the US government would never recognize or find him; that according to his birth certificate, he should be someone in his late 40s rather than the 25-year-old student he is. Then, in the same chapter, he enrolls back into Juliard--yet he hasn't changed his name, and both professors and students clearly know him and his history at the school. Nobody remarks on his apparent or actual age. A little difficult to reconcile both these viewpoints! This age thing continues throughout the novel, so it's not one missed comment. Another example--when Eric's moving into his apartment, he mentions that he's stopped drinking anything with caffeine because it is so destructive to his elven friends...yet, just a chapter or two later, he's offering guests cappuchino from his own machine. Little faults, but it shows that the authors weren't consistant, and that irritates me when I'm spending $2.. on a book.
Other reviews here have mentioned the detailed beginning and the rushed ending, and I agree. It's almost like the authors got tired of the book about three-quarters through and just decided to finish it. Or, alternately, they might have rushed the ending and left those dangling questions and characters in order to leave some threads to pick up in a sequel. I hope that there is a sequel, because I want to see what happens with Kory and Beth, the Guardians, and Aerune's plans. I think I may wait until the paperback comes out though, just in case...
If you don't pay close attention to details, you will probably enjoy this book. If you DO pay close attention to details--re-read "Bedlam's Bard".
_Beyond World's End_ has problems. Its lack of consistency alone costs the book a star; besides enough small errors to make me wonder whether an editor ever actually looked at this, there's a big issue with how time works. Eric's been Underhill for twenty or thirty mortal years, yet the professors at Juilliard aren't surprised that he's back and looking twenty-five at most? Ria Llewellyn's come back from healing Underhill for as many years, and yet when she returns to her company it's as though she's been gone for just a few months? What gives? This paradox took my suspension of disbelief by the scruff of its neck and shook it until the spine snapped, and that didn't make staying in the story very easy.
Second, the first half to two-thirds simply disappointed me. Too much text space was set up establishing details that were later unimportant. Lackey and Edghill might as well have not bothered with the entire Juilliard storyline; it trailed off ingloriously long before the story was over. And this first big slice of text is full of elements that readers of Mercedes Lackey will probably recognize. Gorgeous young hero stuns everyone with how mature and powerful he's become, over and over again. He meets up with a band of potential allies who, despite being powers in their own right, are oddly clueless and need the hero to tell them what's going on all the time. (Really, the book would've been better in my opinion if the Guardians had just been left out. I don't think it would've hurt the plot any, since they didn't seem to *do* anything.) Everyone worships and fawns over him and his talents. Sound familiar? I was getting _Lark and the Wren_ flashbacks all the time I was reading. Now, I love Lackey's work, and find nothing wrong with a little wish-fulfillment now and then, but _Beyond World's End_ had me ready to yell, "Enough is enough!"
However, there are saving graces which make this a book worth reading--a book worth buying, for that matter, though I'd wait for it to come out in paperback. The subplot involving the psychotropic cocktail experiments was genuinely creepy and very well-written, with a solidness to it that seemed lacking from the rest of the text. At least in that first half to two-thirds. It's important to make the distinction, because after a point the story and pacing picked up enough that the whole thing finally started coming together. Eric, Ria, and Jeannette became very interesting; the conflict was absorbing; I couldn't put the book down until I'd reached the end. True, the climax did go very quickly and was a letdown after so much build-up, but if the rest of the novel had possessed as much energy and drawing power, it would've been one heck of a book instead of just a fairly good one.
In short: this is worth checking out if you've already read _Bedlam's Bard_ (or its two component parts, _Knight of Ghosts and Shadows_ and _Summoned To Tourney_) and want to know what happened to Eric & Company. It may even be worth trying if you haven't, though without some knowledge of Lackey's urban fantasy world it would be easy to get confused. But keep in mind that it isn't a story that is apt to draw you in or take off from the get-go; perseverance is needed to get the most out of this one.