Book Review [One Realm Beyond]

One Realm BeYonD
(Realm Walkers Trilogy, Book 1)
Donita K. Paul

Publisher:  Zondervan
Genre:  YA
Released:  2014

[rear cover]
Cantor D'Ahma waited his whole life for this day.  Born with a gift to walk 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.

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WARNING: Possible Spoilers

Having read and re-read the DragonKeeper Chronicles years ago from the good lady Donita K. Paul, I just had to have this one as soon as I heard of it!  

I apologize in advance.  My reviews are. . . thorough.  :]

[The Basics]
The characters.  I LOVE them!  Each has his or her own unique voice and style.  Not one of them are the same! and that is so refreshing to find in a new book.  Or any book for that matter.  :]  I guess the reason I enjoy it so much is because that is one of the things I have the most trouble with in my own stories.  I have the tendency to make my characters sound the same and be too perfect. . .  But on to my review!

At first, I thought this book would center around the same world as Kale's in the DragonKeeper series.  You know, where there are o'rants, emerlindians, pnard potatoes, minor dragons, etc.  I came to find out, however, that while there are dragons and wizards and magic of sorts, this tale features regular humans with extraordinary purposes.  At this knowledge, I was momentarily let-down and disappointed, having expected the same world setting as Mrs. Paul's previous books.  But that did not last for long.  Her style and characters soon take over and leave you with lovable characters and a fun, intriguing adventure that'll keep you flipping pages.

The story swaps character point of view (POV) in many instances, switching from that of Cantor, a young realm walker itching for adventure, and Bixby, a bubbly, talented, mysterious girl, who will never cease to surprise you.  Between the two of them, a bizarre dragon named Bridger, and his cat Jesha, there is never a dull moment.  Prepare to laugh, hang your mouth open in shock, and possibly cry. (Though I rarely, if ever, cry while reading a book.  I think the closest I came to tears was in reading the Redwall book, Martin the Warrior, where the mouse Rose dies.  TT_TT

As to the general plot, Cantor sets out to see the world, or rather, worlds.  He's a realm walker, remember?  Destined from birth.  This job carries a huge responsibility and one he believes he's ready for, but comes to understand that it will be far more difficult than he first believed.  And he can't do it alone.  Cue in Bridger.  

Bridger is a mor dragon.  A shape-shifter.  And a very special one at that.  Unlike other dragons of his kind who can only shift into two or three different creatures/objects (such as a dog or horse), Bridger has the ability to shape-shift into anything.  Which is an extremely rare talent and altogether impressive as he does more than his share of proving he can be useful to Cantor, who doesn't want to believe this odd, clumsy excuse for a dragon would possibly be his constant (partner) for life.  

Bixby D'Mazeline is possibly my favorite character.  She is fun, out-going, energetic, and ready to speak her mind.  Petite, probably no more than four feet, she has a wispy air about her that brings to mind the race of Kimens in the previous series.  Her hair is white-blond and full of unruly, bouncy curls.  The author's description of this character's hair reminded me often of Merida's in Brave, with the exception of color.  Also, she's a girly girl, who adores fabrics of all kinds, lace, ribbons, and a variety of colors.  Her wardrobe is so bizarrely unique and creative on the author's part.  I have never met a character such as her!  She wears, essentially, her whole wardrobe on her body, in layers, and adjusts to fit the day's purpose.  Bixby has many talents, uses a variety of crowns and circlets to accelerate her abilities, and overall is an unforgettable friend.

[Spiritual Content]
This is a Christian trilogy by a Christian author, so expect Christian values in the form of fantasy representation.  =]

The world of the Realm Walkers and those who reside therein, are governed by Primen, the Creator of all things and Master of every creature.  He, of course, symbolizes God.  

Thanks to his mentors, Ahma and Odem, Cantor grows up under their faithful tutelage and is taught to respect and honor Primen in a world where corrupt leaders have forsaken His laws and seek to destroy what He has built.  The Book of Primen represents the Bible, containing words of wisdom.  Elite Warriors represent angels, the personal messengers of Primen.

Both Cantor and Bixby learn to rely fully on their God in the trials they face, and are comforted and strengthened by Him in the face of darkness.

[Violence]
In one plane (a word used to describe a realm), the King's Guard runs rampant, taking by force livestock and produce from the hard-working people.  The said guard also takes young men and, for lack of a better word, "brainwashes" them into service as a soldier of the Guard.  Cantor, Bridger, and Bixby take it upon themselves to help in their rescue.

A dragon stabs himself in the gum with his own claw, causing minor bleeding.

[SPOILER]  A queer people-group, known as the Brunswikkers and resembling dwarves in stature, capture Cantor and, as their twisted way of fun, dunk him in the toxic Sea of Joden, which eats at skin, bone, cothing--anything it comes into contact--only to leave him for dead on the beach.  Fortunately, a Brunswikker woman, called Mistress Dante, rescues him and nurses him back to health.  (The camps of these people are divided into two:  the men's camp and the women's, where the mothers and children dwell until the sons are old enough to "graduate" to the men's lodging.  In short, one is hostile, the other hospitable.  Needless to say, Cantor stumbled into the wrong camp.)

A man is stabbed.

Bixby suffers from a "mind battle."  (As in the DragonKeeper series, mind-speak is common.)

Our heroes and heroines are scratched and bruised.

[SPOILER]  Explosions take the Guild headquarters, raking it to the ground and killing and wounding hundreds of innocents.  

[Love-y Content]
None to speak of.  Cantor and Bixby hold hands, but not in a girlfriend/boyfriend way, mind you.  For instance, in a scene where she is reading a news article, Cantor is pulling her along to reach a certain destination.  I believe this happens more than once, like at a marketplace where her shorter legs have difficulty in keeping up.  Cantor is somewhat disappointed at one point (though he doesn't understand why) when Bixby gives her attention over to another character.   They care for each other, of course, and respect the other's secrets.  Both are willing to listen and act as a sounding board.  They rely on each other for support.   Bixby is the kind of person who hugs.  She does so to Cantor, Bridger, and [SPOILER character] her own dragon constant Totobee-Rodolow (Bridger's sister).

[Conclusion]
In ending this lengthy review, I absolutely loved the first addition of the Realm Walkers trilogy and cannot wait for the second! 

If you loved the DragonKeeper chronicles, you will definitely enjoy One Realm Beyond as it has the same feel and voice of the former, but not to the point that you think they are too similar.  Same author, different story, different world.  

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Recommended ages:  13+

Note:  This book was provided for me by BookLookBloggers.com (formerly BookSneeze), for my honest review.

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4 comments

Lauriloth said...

Oh man, I've been DYING to read this book. I must get my hands on it soon! Donita K. Paul's stories are just the BEST. She comes up with the most loveable, interesting characters, and it sounds like this book is no different. Now I just want to read it more!

Thank you for your review, I've wanted to learn more about this book for a while.

Sarah Elizabeth said...

So glad I could be of help, m'lady!

Thanks for commenting!!

Donita K. Paul said...

Thank you for the review, Sarah. I like the way you divided it up and gave concise information in each section. I certainly enjoyed writing One Realm Beyond. And Bixby was a charmer from the first page she appeared upon. I had to make a Pinterest board to keep track of her clothes. http://www.pinterest.com/donitakpaul/bixby-styling/

Sarah Elizabeth said...

My pleasure, Mrs. Paul! I thoroughly enjoy ALL of your books. :D

Bixby's Pinterest board is great! It gives me a better idea of what she wears.