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Door, Vol. 1: The Binding Returned (Time, Book 1) Paperback – February 28, 2011
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Miller's thematic use of the reclaimed legacy resonates with classicist literature that is symbolic of the more noteworthy works within the genre. Although the so-called `young adult' literature of the late 20th century focuses on swords and sorcery in conjuring up their own legacy, we find writers such as Tolkien borrowing from traditionalist concepts in establishing a common ground with a wider audience. In Binding, we find the disinherited protagonist having fallen from grace, yet being rediscovered by the Lady of the Silver Lake in reclaiming his rightful place from Falkyr. There is also a romantic interlude with Lady Megan, the adopted heiress of the Lady of the Silver Lake. It all works together as Hamish is able to transcend his lowly position at the tavern, reestablishing himself as the heir apparent. This reminds us of such Biblical themes as Joseph rising from slavery in Egypt to claim his birthright, giving the work a real-world essence as opposed to a Cinderellaesque scenario of having lucked out in finding his fortune.
The conflict approaches as the Lady redefines the vision quest, dispatching them to the City of the Immortals along the Highstone Road. They soon encounter the Path of Earth and the Path of Water, bringing the elemental themes into play as they continue on to Riverseaton and a fateful meeting with the High Mayor. Hamish realizes that his mission is fraught with supernatural perils, yet he knows he is the only one who can establish the juncture between the physical world and the mystical Underworld. Megan becomes Hamish's inspiration as he enters a realm of sorcery threatening their very lives. Yet he realizes that unlocking its secrets in the key to fulfilling the Promise. The saga reaches its climax as the mysterious Elle confronts Hamish and Megan, revealing the secrets of the netherworld at long last.
This novel is the first installment of Miller's The Books of Time series, and both its characters, atmosphere and storyline are intriguing enough to have its audience remain eager for more. For both fantasy readers and action/adventure fans alike, The Binding Returned is a worthy addition to their collection.
Have you ever wondered what lies beyond?
With this question Miller sets the theme to explore the life of Hamish, a teenaged apprentice barback and brewer who struggles to meet the needs of the thirsty clients at the Beggin Inn in Riversea. The guided chaos of crowded bars is deftly crafted as Hamish flies between customers and disparate conversations until ending at the table of three travelers, Captain Grey, Navarra, and Falkyr, who have come to remind Hamish of his larger responsibilities to his family.
Hamish is a prince from the Highlands, and has spent many years ignoring his obligation to return and undergo a rite of passage known as The Testing. His failure to return has placed the continued existence of his family's lineage at risk, so Hamish leaves Riversea accompanied by two fishermen and Navarra and Falkyr (both sons of high kings who govern different realms). The men follow the river inland to the waters of the Silver Lake, and when Hamish chooses to accompany one of the fishermen onto the lake he is nearly killed when the dinghy is caught in a whirlpool.
The next day Hamish receives an invitation for dinner from the lake's guardian, the Lady of the Silver Lake, and during the meeting the Lady acknowledges `the need of young men to test the boundaries and bonds of society.' This statement strikes at the heart of Hamish's dilemma as he chafes against his unavoidable destiny of governance.
This is a story about fates both seen and unseen, however, and a young man who learns his actions or inactions have consequences that stretch beyond their immediate and foreseeable result. After the dinner Hamish engages the Lady in a game of strategy, and discovers that he holds an ability to make Magic when the game boards explode after he performs an unconventional move in the game. The following day Hamish, Navarra and Falkyr receive a proposal from the Lady that they attempt to cross the Silver Lake to its forbidden side and make contact with anyone living in the City of the Immortals. Hamish and his party encounter magical barriers that assail his ability to endure their challenges, and he soon learns the Nietzschean adage that what does not destroy us, makes us stronger.
The Binding Returned carries the rich historical detail of Tolkien and sets the groundwork for a story line that spans the here and the hereafter. It is a world where imaginative rumor and the discrete use of Magic coexist, and a young man comes to understand the importance of keeping your eyes open when running away.