Book Review: Beyond Wizardwall

This Will Make You Want to Re-Read the Beyond Trilogy

Of all the “Beyond” books, I found this one to be the most instantly captivating. The book opens with Niko in the midst of an existential crisis. His mare is in the process of giving birth, and it looks very much as if both the horse and the foal are going to expire. But Niko is exhausted not just from assisting his horse through hours of labor—his previous adventures with Tempus Thales have left him a shattered husk of himself. In the midst of his broken depression, he quits his commission, and heads off—completely vulnerable, into the night.

Stealth, Niko, Nikodemos—is one of the most fascinating characters in all of fantasy. He has a calm and a capability that attracts the admiration of the gods, yet a vulnerability that makes him fragile and appealing. At the beginning of “Wizardwall,” Niko is in the midst of an emotional torment that is highly recognizable as a true physiological ailment. It would be accurate to say he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but that would also be a mere fraction of what Niko represents in this novel. His suffering is not a statement on an individual illness, instead it casts light on the anguish, weakness, and fundamental strength of human beings as a species.

To watch Niko navigate a path between the schemes of figures more powerful than himself is breathtaking. There is a parent/child relationship between Niko and the other characters, even the characters that do not have Niko’s best interests in mind. This relationship is perfectly realized. The majority of the time, Niko exists because the parent allows it, but every now and then Niko slips through the fingers of a closing hand...revealing he has achieved slightly more of what the parent had perceived in him only as potential.

As always, Janet Morris is a lyrical master. There is a beautiful rhythm to the language here and you might find yourself reading this book out loud just to hear the words echo against the walls. I would be hard pressed to name any fantasy novels that contain even a fraction of the nuance the “Beyond” series can boast. These books are just as worthy of formal study as they are purely entertaining. Having closed the cover on “Beyond Wizardwall,” I’m highly tempted to return to “Beyond Sanctuary” and begin again...hopefully more confident with the knowledge I’ve gained, but fairly certain the series will require a third reading...and a fourth...and a fifth...

For fans of fantasy, this book has few equals.  Grab your copy here.