Beyond the Valley of Thorns (Land of Elyon #2) by Patrick Carman

Beyond the Valley of Thorns by Patrick Carman

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: 2005
Synopsis Source: Amazon

Characters- 18/20
Plot- 20/20
Originality- 19/20
Writing- 19/20
Recommendation- 19/20
Overall- 95/100 or A

Synopsis: The second dazzling installment in Patrick Carman’s masterful Land of Elyon trilogy

Alexa thought her troubles were over when she defeated the man who had threatened to bring down Bridewell from within. But now that the walls around her land have fallen, a new, unexpected threat has risen from outside. Suddenly, Alexa is involved in a battle much, much larger than her own life . . . a battle in which she is destined to play a key role. In order to help good defeat evil, Alexa and her friends must venture farther than they’ve ever gone before — confronting giants, bats, ravenous dogs, and a particularly ghoulish mastermind in order to bring back peace.

My Thoughts: Beyond the Valley of Thorns, Patrick Carman’s sequel to The Dark Hills Divide, is a fast-paced, enjoyable, and much darker read than its predecessor. The Land of Elyon is a very mysterious place, and readers of the first novel are only too aware of this. Many of these mysteries are revealed in Beyond the Valley of Thorns, yet even more remain unsolved. Readers learn about the history, tragedies, and the balance of good and evil of this troubled land. As much as I am fond of the first book of the series, the second installment is obviously a richer fantasy.

While delving through this intriguing novel, I sensed a Lord of the Rings-ish essence in the plot. Indeed, the Dark Tower of Victor Graindall was reminiscent of the two towers in the second of Tolkien’s novels, save the second tower. Abaddon, the source of all evil in The Land of Elyon, could be compared to Sauron. Grindall could be seen as the counterpart of the wizard Saruman.   

Indeed, this a fine fantasy. The only criticism I have is the lack of character in Alexa. The Dark Hills Divide portrayed her as a free-spirited, independent, and adventurous girl, but all of these qualities fell flat during the majority of the second novel. Even though this may be true for one character in the book, Patrick Carman successfully incorporates an array of new characters into the plot. Odessa, the quiet and thoughtful wolf, and Arman, the proud yet gentle giant, are only a couple of examples.

Beyond the Valley of Thorns has a very dark nature. The presence of evil is much more evident than the previous book. What really struck me was the sad state of the people living in Castalia. These suppressed and downtrodden citizens harbor a valiant and persistent nature that I really admire. They are governed by a tyrant and policed by foul ogres. The ogres, in my opinion, are the worst of the Castalians problems. These giant, ruthless brutes have been infected by Abaddon’s evil and are literally rotting from the inside.  

For readers of The Dark Hills Divide, Patrick Carman’s second installment of the series will come as no disappointment. Though dark in nature, this is a very pleasant read that captures the spirit of adventure and the essence of faith its many allegories. Though the lack of character in Alexa is evident, this is an excellent read for fans of the series and fantasy alike. 

Carman, Patrick. (2005) Beyond the Valley of Thorns. United States: Scholastic Press.

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