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Beyond the Pale

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A strange rift in ordinary reality draws saloon owner Travis Wilder and ER doctor Grace Beckett into the otherworld of Eldh--a land of gods, monsters, and magic that is sorely in need of heroes.


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A strange rift in ordinary reality draws saloon owner Travis Wilder and ER doctor Grace Beckett into the otherworld of Eldh--a land of gods, monsters, and magic that is sorely in need of heroes.

30 review for Beyond the Pale

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    3.0 stars. It has been a while since I read this and I actually plan to re-read it as some point. I recall this being a good solid fantasy story that what pretty well written.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Inara

    Travis Wilder has been living in Castle City for some years when strange things start to happen: a disturbing meeting with an old preacher, mysterious signs on doors, the violent death of his friend Jack, an iron box with a dangerous content.. and at last Travis falls through a billboard into the foreign world Eldh. Grace Beckett, a doctor at Denver Memorial Hospital is confronted with a medical impossibility: a man with an iron heart coming back from the dead. To rescue others from the murderous Travis Wilder has been living in Castle City for some years when strange things start to happen: a disturbing meeting with an old preacher, mysterious signs on doors, the violent death of his friend Jack, an iron box with a dangerous content.. and at last Travis falls through a billboard into the foreign world Eldh. Grace Beckett, a doctor at Denver Memorial Hospital is confronted with a medical impossibility: a man with an iron heart coming back from the dead. To rescue others from the murderous undead Grace kills him for a second time but is now in danger herself. Other iron hearts are on her heels and she can only flee with the help of Hadrian Farr, a mysterious man from an organization called "The Seekers". Somehow she ends up at Castle City where she finds her way to Eldh too… Here in Eldh Travis and Grace finally meet after many adventures in Calavere where they have to save this world from the rising of the Pale King.. and confront their own pasts which both try very hard to forget.. Well, I can´t say I´m very impressed by the main characters. Travis is a whiny thirty-three year old teenager, running around with hunched shoulders, feeling all the time sorry for himself and constantly scratching his beard in confusion (I really started to hate it). Grace is most of the time speechless or paralyzed of fear to do anything but stare but in the end I was warming up more to her character than to Travis´. I have just read the first book of this series and my hope is that there is some character development in the future. I was also very astonished how fast Travis shut the Iron Gate to refuse the Pale King admittance to the dominions of Eldh…but only after Beltan was almost killed and Travis stopped quarreling with his fate and DID something. He HAS the power but acts like a fool all the time. The story as such isn´t that bad and quite entertaining although the plot is nothing new (people of the earth save an other world, etc.) and I´ve read it in similar form many times before but the author tries to describe life in a castle very realistic (smell, mud, cold, etc) although I wouldn´t have minded if he had refrained from describing the knight Beltan with thinning hair and deep furrows at his brow – I´m sorry but I like knights in shining armor at least a little bit handsome, that´s just a romantic vision of mine but I can´t help it. It was much work to replace this imagine with my better looking one in my mind…lol. I will start to read the second book in hope Travis will develop for the better… six books with a whiny character would be really too much. Homepage of the author: http://www.thelastrune.com/

  3. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Katz

    There were individual parts of this book that I liked quite a bit. For example, Grace needing to learn how to weave before she could learn magic was a very evocative way of introducing how the magic of witchcraft worked. Falken singing in front of the council of kings also captured me with its image. Travis's reveal of his tragic past was genuinely moving; I actually got teary. Having queer and disabled characters casually present as part of the cast was meaningful. And some of the secondary cha There were individual parts of this book that I liked quite a bit. For example, Grace needing to learn how to weave before she could learn magic was a very evocative way of introducing how the magic of witchcraft worked. Falken singing in front of the council of kings also captured me with its image. Travis's reveal of his tragic past was genuinely moving; I actually got teary. Having queer and disabled characters casually present as part of the cast was meaningful. And some of the secondary characters were genuinely charming—initially just Aryn, but both Durge and Beltan genuinely grew on me. In short, there were a lot of sparks of potential and things I wanted to see more of. However, there was a lot that I found wanting in this book as well, and I found it very hard to get through. The pacing was bad, many scenes were too derivative of previous works of fantasy, the foreshadowing was so unsubtle that that twists rarely worked as twists, and the narrative was purple to the point of… well, "Her breasts were two ripe fruits in the pearled basket of her bodice." Very few characters were allowed to be people rather than plot devices (frequently including our protagonists), and while I was glad there was less rape than in a lot of epic fantasy, it was definitely still there. There's a certain amount that I'm willing to acknowledge as unpleasantly just super common as part of the set piece of high fantasy especially in the 80s and 90s, and it didn't really cross that line, but it was still tiresome. There were extremely large stretches (to the tune of 200 pages) where essentially nothing important happened; you could probably cut out most of the middle of the book with minor revisions and not really lose much actual content. Contributing to this feeling was the problem with characters just being archetypes; both Falken and Melia were intended to be Mysterious by the narrative, which meant that they would frequently seem to realize something and then leave Travis and the reader out of their discussions entirely while we got to read about… Travis being sulky that they were whispering together. Key exciting moments would often end with everyone deciding "Let's talk about this tomorrow", and then the conversation would be offscreened and explained briefly in narrative only. There was a certain derivativeness, as well. It was easy to see the inspiration especially of Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Shakespeare, but also Disney's Aladdin, the Darwath trilogy, the Belgariad, and even Sailor Moon. Now, I believe each author will handle a concept differently, and concepts don't 'belong' to anyone as long as scenes aren't lifted wholesale. But this book just barely reskinned some things before dropping them into its own narrative. For example, Travis holding the Magic Item That The Evil Overlord Wanted because it made him want to take it out, which caused wraiths to attack his group where they were camped in the shadow of an old ruin on a hill. For another example, Puck's infamous closing monologue from the Midsummer Night's Dream is given by fairy actors, rephrased but with the same content. It's nothing that I'd call plagiarism, but as someone who's read those works, it was distracting, and it happened enough that it undercut its original content—during some of the more stand-out scenes, I couldn't help but wonder if it was referencing a story I wasn't familiar with. There was also a weird royalist sentiment throughout—repeatedly, nobility is described as something you can tell by just looking at someone… to the point that the entirety of Grace's plot hinges on the fact that she is assumed to be royalty from their own world by literal kings and queens of Eldh, because she's just got that Air Of Nobility to her, despite the fact that nobody has ever heard of her or where she claims to be from. (The combination of this, the archetypes, and the derivativeness honestly makes me pretty sure of twists that'll happen in later books, in fact — surely Falken is too much of an Aragorn-like figure to not be the secret heir to the kingdom that fell a thousand years earlier?) I originally picked this book up because, as a queer fantasy reader who was a teen in the 90s, the presence of LGBT+ characters in mainstream fantasy was extremely helpful to me, and I'm always willing to find out about books I hadn't heard of and try them out now. I'm given to understand that a m/m romance (I believe with one gay character and one bi character) happens later on in this six book series. The on-page LGBT+ content in this book was: 1. The seductress sorceress archetype, who enacted the bad stereotype of being bisexual-but-only-so-they-can-seduce-men-together and 2. Two separate male characters both who are in a masculine virility cult which has rumors that its members sleep with boys, both of whom are described by these rumors in derisive/insulting ways. For the second of these male characters it's more confirmed that yes, he is gay (and I'm 99% sure he is going to be part of the romance later) and, honestly, he's a decent character who is one of the well-written secondaries and I'm glad he exists on-page, but given that he's occasionally a POV character, and that we have spent at this point 600 pages with his close friends who are also POV characters, I do wish we could have had at least this one reveal that was through their casual or friendly narrative, rather than through the insults of a villain. By the end, I admit I was curious about what would happen later in the series, and I would be interested to see those two characters develop a relationship. I'd like to see more of Grace, too, and her friendship with Aryn. But all in all, weighing the parts I liked and the parts I didn't, I don't think I'm likely to read further. Edit: I read some other reviews (which confirmed my belief some of the stand-out scenes were also derivative, just of series I wasn't as familiar with) and some other plot information online that has cemented my desire not to read further. (view spoiler)[Grace, it turns out, is nobility (a princess sent away from her own world and, I guess, through time), so that whole weird royalist was some kind of... set up for that. But more of a deal breaker, apparently later in the series, the gay character and Travis's female love interest are magically coerced into sleeping with each other by being made to believe the other's Travis. (hide spoiler)] I'm definitely tapping out of this one. View this review on my website | My reviews | Related Review: The Merro Tree by Katie Waitman

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    It's probably more of a 3.5 star book, because it started out pretty slow. I didn't even add it to 'currently reading' on here till I was 37 pages in aka was pretty sure I would finish it. Still, I didn't really get invested in this story till around 100 pages in. Luckily, the patience has paid off and now I'm impatiently waiting for the next book to arrive at my doorstep. This is a traditional 'humans from our world go/fall through a portal into a medieval fantasy world' story and sometimes that It's probably more of a 3.5 star book, because it started out pretty slow. I didn't even add it to 'currently reading' on here till I was 37 pages in aka was pretty sure I would finish it. Still, I didn't really get invested in this story till around 100 pages in. Luckily, the patience has paid off and now I'm impatiently waiting for the next book to arrive at my doorstep. This is a traditional 'humans from our world go/fall through a portal into a medieval fantasy world' story and sometimes that's just exactly what one needs! The two main characters from Earth are Travis, a barkeeper and Grace, an emergency room doctor. After some supernatural surprises of the murderous kind happen to them, they both separately meet the same weird people who give them some cryptic messages and possibly magical trinkets before they send them off to Eldh. There they meet several people (who, by a stroke of luck, are all friendly) whom they become friends with, which is a whole new feeling for both of them. Travis sadly gets stuck with the travelling part of traditional fantasy novels and while it has its interesting parts, especially the beginning is kind of boring. It's the reason why I doubted that I would finish this book at first. Luckily Grace shows up a few pages later and she's not only a much more engaging character from the beginning (it evens out with time), she also happens to end up in a castle pretty much right away, getting mistaken for royality. Court intrigue is definitely much more interesting than endless trudging from village to village. She was basically my SAVING GRACE... *gets shot* Both of them have strong hidden magical powers, because of course... but because I knew what kind of book I was reading, I was never bothered. It also helped that both characters stayed very human through the course of the book. They kept asking questions someone from another world might ask - but not enough to bog the story down of course. I have to say that I enjoyed the characters in general. Don't think there was anyone I disliked. I also liked that they were all of different ages, build and that while there were probably a few more men around, there was a good amount of female characters, who were also all different in looks and temperament. Of course there were quite a few very pretty people around, but characters were allowed to be deformed, have ugly scars or have thinning hair (it was a bit funny how that got mentioned a lot for one character), too. And they were not the evil ones. There was even a point made that evil would try to hide the ugly inside of them, while blending you with a perfect exterior. Extra note: This book has loads and loads of characters, but I was able to keep them all straight without a problem. Eldh is a solid fantasy world. The reader gets thrown into it along with Travis and Grace and learns as they learn. Rules of society, history, religion, traditions, superstitions -nothing is murky and there is even an explanation why our Earthlings understand the language. I was pleased. The plot itself took quite some time to get going what with half of the main characters wandering through the lands. Of course they also encountered minions of the villain, but when there is a conspiracy and maybe even a murder plot involving nobles around, my attention is definitely on that. It even mostly kept me on my toes, even if the crime novel reader in me could pretty much guess who was behind things. All in all a pretty solid read. I'm looking forward to reading the next books and am thrilled that I found them so late. This way, I will only have to wait for the postman...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joel Flank

    Beyond the Pale starts the Last Rune series, and tells the story of Travis Wilder and Grace Beckett as they are transported from modern day Earth to a fantasy world. The first half of the book detailed their separate and parallel adventures as they learn the lay of the land in a strange world, and adjust to the fact that they're not in Kansas anymore (or in this case, Colorado), and that they both need to immerse themselves in the Dominions in order to make sense of their current situations. Tra Beyond the Pale starts the Last Rune series, and tells the story of Travis Wilder and Grace Beckett as they are transported from modern day Earth to a fantasy world. The first half of the book detailed their separate and parallel adventures as they learn the lay of the land in a strange world, and adjust to the fact that they're not in Kansas anymore (or in this case, Colorado), and that they both need to immerse themselves in the Dominions in order to make sense of their current situations. Travis falls in with Falken, a wandering bard, and his travelling companions Melia and Beltan, as they race against time to convince the kings of the Dominions that they need to prepare for war before the Pale Lord regains his freedom and tries again to conquer the world. Grace finds herself in the court of one of the kings, mistaken for a foreign noble, and forced to serve her host as a spy to learn the motivations of the visiting dignitaries and kings. Along the way, both Travis and Grace discover that they may have been sent to this world for a reason beyond just chance, as Travis finds he has powerful rune magic at his beck and call, and Grace is a fledgling witch. As they both begin to learn to use their powers, they also meet and find that they must take the initiative to unravel the plots of the Pale Lord's agents and give the people of this world a fighting chance against a powerful evil. To do so, they not only need to figure out the dangers hidden and arrayed against them, but they must confront the traumas in their past, to overcome them and start to believe in themselves as well.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    This is the third reread I had of this novel. This has been one of my favorite fantasy series that I never finished. I love the characters, and the setting. Rune magic is very interseting to me and the magic in this series works well too. These are not heavy action novels, they are more about relationship building, some heavy dialog, and about the bigger quest. I look forward to reading the rest again.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    I finished this book only because a very good friend gave it to me. I was ready to lay it down after 100 pages (more than I normally read if I don't like a book). My main problem with the book is the writing (duh). The comments, reactions and "feelings" of the two main characters just felt wrong. And much of the writing just seemed off to me "His voice was like a horn"...Say what? At the very end, the book got slightly better but it just doesn't click with me. Problem is that I have the followin I finished this book only because a very good friend gave it to me. I was ready to lay it down after 100 pages (more than I normally read if I don't like a book). My main problem with the book is the writing (duh). The comments, reactions and "feelings" of the two main characters just felt wrong. And much of the writing just seemed off to me "His voice was like a horn"...Say what? At the very end, the book got slightly better but it just doesn't click with me. Problem is that I have the following 5 books in the series, which I bought on the hope it would be good. So do I dump them or try to carry on? Hmmmm, 2 Stars

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rosu Aquabutts

    "I liked it." This is a really good example of how a book without a single original idea at all can still be really enthralling and enjoyable based solely on the merit of its characters. I got Beyond the Pale because I am such a huge fan of Mark Anthony's books under his pen name, Galen Beckett. The Wyrdwood trilogy starting with The Magicians and Mrs. Quent may actually be my favourite fantasy novels of the new millenium and represent everything that I love about recent fantasy: new ideas, new se "I liked it." This is a really good example of how a book without a single original idea at all can still be really enthralling and enjoyable based solely on the merit of its characters. I got Beyond the Pale because I am such a huge fan of Mark Anthony's books under his pen name, Galen Beckett. The Wyrdwood trilogy starting with The Magicians and Mrs. Quent may actually be my favourite fantasy novels of the new millenium and represent everything that I love about recent fantasy: new ideas, new settings, inspiration drawn from sources totally unrelated to JRR Tolkien, diversity of sexuality and gender, and strong female characters. I would never have picked up Beyond the Pale if I hadn't adored the author's Galen Beckett books so much, because the premise just doesn't appeal to me at all. And insofar as that angle was concerned, I wasn't surprised or proved wrong. While the first section actually did have a lot of cool new ideas, the rest pretty much come off like Anthony had read Lord of the Rings, the Belgariad, the Chronicles of Narnia, and some general European myths, and then made the world's most derivative plot from them. Dark Lord sealed away, seal breaking, dark lord's evil servants hide in plain sight and prepare the way for his return, heroes must convince Kings to act against Dark Lord before it's too late, blah blah blah. I really can't stress just how few original thoughts exist here on the plot side of the things. But what elevates this book and made me give it a solid positive review and my commitment to the series is that the characters are really just fantastic. Grace Beckett and Travis Wilder, the ER doctor and barkeep who get pulled into the world of Eldh are genuinely deep, complex, and sympathetic characters with tragic backstories that we wait all book to get ahold of. The way that their lives have intertwined without them ever having met each other is a great little touch that explores the six degrees of separation theory in a fantasy context. Travis's dyslexia and Grace's PTSD are both handled super well and actually contributed to the story in a really cool way. As for the Eldhish characters, they're derivative as hell, just like the world they're living in, but they're just as enjoyable. The mysterious Falken Blackhand and Melia are actually really mysterious and fascinating and I'm full of theories about their abilities and histories and where they really come from. Aryn is a sweet and wonderful female character who is very feminine and girly without being weak. The gloomy knight Durge may be a little one-note, but he's incredibly endearing, while Beltan, the knight who is revealed to be a Bastard Prince who renounced his claims to the throne to avoid a war, is a fascinating and complex character who may be hiding a secret about what sort of equipment he prefers on his bedmates. I loved all of them! And the longer the book went along, the more I loved them. By the time it reached its big finale, I was so on board with the whole thing I was bouncing in my seat and couldn't put it down. I cared about what happened to these people -- I cared a lot. The ending brought a few tears to my eyes and I was forced to realize how much I'd come to care about this amazingly derivative fantasy classic shit that I really do consider myself long since over. So yes, it gets a star knocked off for being generally just awful in the worldbuilding and plot and concept go. I would have been more okay with it if Grace and/or Travis had been like haha this is like a bad fantasy novel from the 70s or something, because come on. Not acknowledging it made it so much worse. You're not allowed to not be genre savvy when you're literally aware of what the term "genre savvy" means. I also took some points off for how much I hated how the book treated Kyrene -- oh, a sultry female character who wears lowcut gowns and flirts a lot? I BET SHE'S GONNA BE EVIL. And honestly it's just not that good. But the characters, oh, the characters. The second book will be the real test for if my affection for this can overcome the fact that it's all heading towards a big fantasy war, my least favourite thing in the entire world, but at least it made its way firmly onto my "to read" list.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    Beyond the Pale is one of the first fantasy books I've read in a long while. I found that it was quite interesting of the author to start out in modern day Colorado and shift to a different, world called Eldh. While I can't pronounce the name of the world, Anthony does a pretty good job of describing how it is similar, yet different to our familiar Earth and making the reader feel connected to this place. Characters The story itself also had intrinsic features of a fantasy novel. Travelling bards Beyond the Pale is one of the first fantasy books I've read in a long while. I found that it was quite interesting of the author to start out in modern day Colorado and shift to a different, world called Eldh. While I can't pronounce the name of the world, Anthony does a pretty good job of describing how it is similar, yet different to our familiar Earth and making the reader feel connected to this place. Characters The story itself also had intrinsic features of a fantasy novel. Travelling bards, gods, fairies, knights, heroes and some pretty awesome villains. The heroes are from Colorado and Eldh alike. The heroes from Colorado, quite naturally, are somewhat awkward in character. Grace is a nurse and orphan, thus has some emotional baggage with her to deal with along her journey. Travis, a saloonkeeper, has more than a few self esteem issues and a bad case of guilty consciousness that he deals with along the way to confront the evil before him. The rest of the heroes are more secondary cast characters that help these two along. A bard, a mage, a pair of knights, and a baroness all make up the cast of good guys set to fight against the villains. I can't really say much about them as there was not much character development amongst the secondary characters, but it isn't like they are totally forgettable either. The villains are somewhat unique to me, but also familiar. It seems as if many of the twisted creatures he describes, such as feydrim and wraithlings, are a subtle change from familiar fairy tales. However, I've not come across bad guys with lumps of iron in place of their hearts. These villains are led by "The Pale King", which we never meet in this book. Story Now, as for the bases of the storyline,it's pretty familiar. Evil is trying to break out of the eternal jail cast around them a millennium or more ago, and the people of today have totally forgotten the perils of this time. Along comes the bard to ruin their day, start the novel, and provide the hook and line to drag the reader along. I do mean drag as the beginning of the book was quite slow until the bard shows up to start explaining things here and there. Really, the reader doesn't get the full idea of what is going on (and hence why you should read the book) until about the middle. It's only then you find out how evil is bursting it's seems and trying to get into the world. Once you get to that point in the middle, though, it's a really good story with a quick pace. There is just enough mystery to keep you guessing, but just enough action to keep you reading. Thoughts It's not a good idea to keep the reader hanging and wondering what's the story line until the middle. It took me a long time to get to that point, which is not a way to get reader to keep reading. Anthony does do a good job in creating a new world with some "new" things. He does this by describing these things in familiar way, and saying something like "the trees are like aspens, but not quite" and then going on to describe how they were different and using the names often enough to remember.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Wise_owl

    Beyond the pale has several things going for it, and it's one of those books that I feel like I would have given a higher rating in my younger days, as it spoke to me on many levels of 'nostalgia'. To start with it's a portal fantasy, something I've always been partial to. That is a fantasy that starts in the 'real' world, with the characters being transported to a fantasy realm. Unlike some such fantasies, it spends a good deal of time detailing the initial 'world' of it's two main heroes, but a Beyond the pale has several things going for it, and it's one of those books that I feel like I would have given a higher rating in my younger days, as it spoke to me on many levels of 'nostalgia'. To start with it's a portal fantasy, something I've always been partial to. That is a fantasy that starts in the 'real' world, with the characters being transported to a fantasy realm. Unlike some such fantasies, it spends a good deal of time detailing the initial 'world' of it's two main heroes, but also has the fantasy world tumbling into ours in a covert sort of way, such that plot elements from the early chapters pop up again much later after we've entered the 'fantasy realm'. Unlike say Narnia, the two worlds feel very connected, and you get the impression there are consequences for the occurrences in both worlds, and plot threads left dangling in one might be picked up again later. In short, Grace is a Doctor in a Hospital Emergency room, and as good a healer as she is terrible at social interaction, the mortician one of her few friends. When she finds a man with a literal heart of Iron, her world is torn upside down and old memories, fresh horrors and new adventure await her. Travis is a Tavern owner in a small Colorado town who suddenly begins to experience strange events which mount one on top of the other until he too is torn into this new world. The pair of them, starting from separate places, end up together against dark forces operating in both worlds. The book for me had many ups and downs. As the first in a series it did lay out plenty of idea's, concepts and characters I found very interesting. Sadly many of them seem destined to remain undressed until some future book. While this can be good for a series, it did mean that parts of the book felt a bit disjointed. While the beginning and the ending of the book are very strong, the middle seemed to suffer a little. The transition from the real world to the 'fantasy' world was well executed, and the principal characters seemed neat, if falling into a few of the typical fantasy cliché's.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paan Chhaya

    It's realistically a 3* novel, but I just couldn't bring myself to give it less than four. Many people remarked upon two things about this novel: Using the most classical of fantasy tropes (character and story wise) and it having surprisingly warm characters that grow on you. I found both to be true. First off, I should mention I'm a big fan of "portal fantasy" and I never minded cliches or classical tropes if they were done right. I really can't put my finger on what it is about this series (I' It's realistically a 3* novel, but I just couldn't bring myself to give it less than four. Many people remarked upon two things about this novel: Using the most classical of fantasy tropes (character and story wise) and it having surprisingly warm characters that grow on you. I found both to be true. First off, I should mention I'm a big fan of "portal fantasy" and I never minded cliches or classical tropes if they were done right. I really can't put my finger on what it is about this series (I'm well into the second book) that keeps me glued to the books. I just loved it. I like the slightly messed up characters, I like the magic and Eldh itself (although all could stand a fair bit of fleshing-out). Both main characters from Earth, Travis and Grace, are excellent mouth pieces and the difference in their personality and world-views gives the story a lovely human(e) touch. The author is very comfortable in the skin of both male and female hero. What I also find interesting is that the nature of the approach of the characters is slightly reversed, because Travis is more fluid and emotional, and Grace more focused and even stern. Also a note to the people drawn by the LGBT tags, yes, there are (apparently) gay characters, but it is not in the forefront or treated as a defining trait for said character(s). Which I personally like. There are no steamy, cheesy sex scenes. :) The treatment is very refreshing. The eldish supporting cast is also fun, and very easy to love. Aryn and Durge especially. With Beltan and Melia a strong second. The villains are a bit clear-cut but there is an explanation to it in the story itself. The Seekers (and further developments with them in the second book) are also a nice touch, evoking memories of Anne Rice's Talamasca. All in all, liking the series so far and will continue to read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nick Borrelli

    One of the coolest unknown fantasy series. Found this by accident and decided to read the rest of the series (5 more books) based on the excellence of this one. I can't believe that this series is out of print! The writing is quality, the fantasy world is original, and the characters are interesting and memorable. Great stuff and thoroughly entertaining! One of the coolest unknown fantasy series. Found this by accident and decided to read the rest of the series (5 more books) based on the excellence of this one. I can't believe that this series is out of print! The writing is quality, the fantasy world is original, and the characters are interesting and memorable. Great stuff and thoroughly entertaining!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

    I decided this is a good year to reread this whole series. I've read it a zillion times over the years, but it's been probably ten years since I've read it beginning to end. I'm curious to see if I love it quite as much as I did when I first got my hands on it. I decided this is a good year to reread this whole series. I've read it a zillion times over the years, but it's been probably ten years since I've read it beginning to end. I'm curious to see if I love it quite as much as I did when I first got my hands on it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kalamah

    Though this was very cliche and trope-filled, somehow I enjoyed it anyway. Well enough that I'll at least read the next in the series. I liked the side characters more than the two mains, due to the fact the main characters were often paralyzed by fear and indecision to a frustrating degree, the villains were flat and predictable, and things were resolved a little too neatly and quickly in the end. Also, (view spoiler)[while it seems implied that the ironheart "surgery/ritual" is rather quick, gi Though this was very cliche and trope-filled, somehow I enjoyed it anyway. Well enough that I'll at least read the next in the series. I liked the side characters more than the two mains, due to the fact the main characters were often paralyzed by fear and indecision to a frustrating degree, the villains were flat and predictable, and things were resolved a little too neatly and quickly in the end. Also, (view spoiler)[while it seems implied that the ironheart "surgery/ritual" is rather quick, given Kyrene's attempt on Beltan, I found it very implausible, to say the least, that so many were so suddenly turned into them toward the end. And though it seems the unwilling can be forcibly converted, so to speak, I didn't really buy the seneschal or Rin being evil, with Rin being so all along apparently, as it seemed far too convenient and like an impulsive plot twist instead of thought out. I can believe one, maybe two villains being excellent actors and liars, but to me Rin felt out of left field and just didn't feel plausible. And speaking of believability, all of the jerkass characters wind up either dead or evil and dead in short order at and around the climax, and that again feels very tacked on. (hide spoiler)] Overall, I liked it, but some things were frustrating. (view spoiler)[I also got very tired of Travis' self-pity, though that said, him getting over it in less than five minutes was another facepalm moment. And as an aside, that has got to be one of the worst descriptions of a character with dyslexia that I've ever seen, but admittedly I've rarely seen it. As for Grace, I got sick of her bemoaning her lack of "normal people" emotions, but she was less irritating than Travis about her flaws at least. (hide spoiler)]

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Colton

    I first read this book probably close to twenty years ago, and I absolutely loved it. It would not be inaccurate to say that it helped shape my preferences within the fantasy genre, and it definitely influenced some of the world-building I did for my Dungeons & Dragons campaign. It then sat on my shelf along with the rest of the books in the series for many years and through multiple moves, until author Christie Golden recommended the series on Twitter. Since I had just finished my previous book I first read this book probably close to twenty years ago, and I absolutely loved it. It would not be inaccurate to say that it helped shape my preferences within the fantasy genre, and it definitely influenced some of the world-building I did for my Dungeons & Dragons campaign. It then sat on my shelf along with the rest of the books in the series for many years and through multiple moves, until author Christie Golden recommended the series on Twitter. Since I had just finished my previous book, I decided that this would be a good time to revisit a series I had loved as a teenager. And, I must admit, for the most part it did not disappoint. Beyond the Pale is a very well-crafted story with fleshed-out characters and interesting magic systems. Though the real villain is less a character and more of a distant threat, his minions are much more real and devious and the book does a good job of keeping you guessing at who can and can't be trusted. Though some elements seems perhaps a bit cliched or stereotypical now, it's still an enjoyable read - especially since I'd forgotten a fair amount of the twists. Though I remember more of the major moments of the next book, I'm nonetheless eager to dive into it again as well.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    OK, so I finished this book. It was a very good read and well worth it....so much so, that I am on my way into the second book of this series. Another reader asked if there is m/m romance involved. I can now say...not really. There is one relationship that looks promising for the future, however. I can also say that early in the second book, there is a scene where the author makes it clear that Mr. Anthony is not bashful about same sex relationships. There is also a scene in the first book where OK, so I finished this book. It was a very good read and well worth it....so much so, that I am on my way into the second book of this series. Another reader asked if there is m/m romance involved. I can now say...not really. There is one relationship that looks promising for the future, however. I can also say that early in the second book, there is a scene where the author makes it clear that Mr. Anthony is not bashful about same sex relationships. There is also a scene in the first book where it looks like there might be some action with two females. However, this book is not focused on romance. Hopefully future books will have some more, but in the mean time.. This is just a really nice epic fantasy. Its not as thorough as Tolkien in its world building, but more in depth than most. It reads fast and I would recommend it. Just remember, fantasy novels that focus too much on sex can be dull and uninteresting, even if they are stimulating. This one is a very enjoyable read. My action of going on to the next means I recommend it!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ric Eberle

    This was a book club choice and I didn't expect to like it as well as I did. I like the characters, especially Grace and Travis and I love how descriptive the writer is... when he describes life in the castle, you can almost smell it. There are 6 books in the series, I am compelled to at least read the next one.... I want to know what happens ! Fantasy just maybe something I have to look into further. This was a book club choice and I didn't expect to like it as well as I did. I like the characters, especially Grace and Travis and I love how descriptive the writer is... when he describes life in the castle, you can almost smell it. There are 6 books in the series, I am compelled to at least read the next one.... I want to know what happens ! Fantasy just maybe something I have to look into further.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Greg Lampman

    This is the book series that got me into writing in the first place many years ago. An engaging story with relatable characters, written in a style that isn't overly complicated, but doesn't insult its audience either. The first book of the series sets up a great start to the rest. I have very fond memories of this series, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to get into the fantasy genre, who would otherwise avoid it for fear of it being too "heavy" or "confusing". This is the book series that got me into writing in the first place many years ago. An engaging story with relatable characters, written in a style that isn't overly complicated, but doesn't insult its audience either. The first book of the series sets up a great start to the rest. I have very fond memories of this series, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to get into the fantasy genre, who would otherwise avoid it for fear of it being too "heavy" or "confusing".

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dantegideon

    A DNF for me, as a strong beginning turned into a tedious grind. What I thought were interesting characters became so passive and useless that I couldn’t take any more of them. Grace in particular started out awesome and ended up pretty pathetic. Got halfway through before I gave up on them becoming cool again. It’s a shame as I really loved the first quarter or so.

  20. 5 out of 5

    bookslayer

    This is a weird, weird series that I will probably finish. The way it portrays relationships between character is very refreshing, men and women here hug, confide in each other, and hang out without romance. How amazing is that and how sad is the fact that I have to point it out as a rarity.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Winter Wilcox

    The Last Rune series is my favorite fantasy series of all time. Mark Anthony describes things wonderfully, and keeps the plot moving forward so you don't get bored. The characters are all unique and it's lovely to watch as their relationships grow and as they learn to face their inner demons. The Last Rune series is my favorite fantasy series of all time. Mark Anthony describes things wonderfully, and keeps the plot moving forward so you don't get bored. The characters are all unique and it's lovely to watch as their relationships grow and as they learn to face their inner demons.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nthato Morakabi

    I read this book ages ago. I think I need to re-read it for a new review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Has some really slow parts. Can be a bit confusing at points, but what fantasy book isn't? May pick up the rest. undecided. Has some really slow parts. Can be a bit confusing at points, but what fantasy book isn't? May pick up the rest. undecided.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kelley

    There's nothing too profound here, nothing thought-provoking, but much that is entertaining. The alternate realm, with the usual fantasy trappings, is in trouble, and two misfits from present-day Earth have the power to save it. Once they are transported into the fantasy realm, Marc Anthony mercifully keeps the "fish out of water" cliched humor to a minimum, and instead shows the two protagonists, Travis and Grace, forced to deal with aspects of themselves they managed to surpress or ignore in t There's nothing too profound here, nothing thought-provoking, but much that is entertaining. The alternate realm, with the usual fantasy trappings, is in trouble, and two misfits from present-day Earth have the power to save it. Once they are transported into the fantasy realm, Marc Anthony mercifully keeps the "fish out of water" cliched humor to a minimum, and instead shows the two protagonists, Travis and Grace, forced to deal with aspects of themselves they managed to surpress or ignore in their "real" world. Anthony makes them easy to root for -- though Grace is developed with more detailed interiority than Travis -- and surrounds them with intriguing, often engaging supporting characters, my favorites being Aryn, Durge, and Beltan. One of my favorite things about this novel is that, if I didn't know the author's name, I would never be able to tell whether it was written by a man or a woman. In some works (some of them GOOD works) the author's gender is blatantly clear, as much in the portrayal of his/her own gender as in the portrayal of the opposite. But in Beyond the Pale, we meet an equal number of male and female characters, both good and bad, and both men and women are described and developed with equal confidence, as individual personalities. Anthony is just as comfortable in Grace's head as in Travis's, and they and the other sympathetic figures treat the men and the women around them with equal respect, depending on their merits. I grow weary of fantasy authors replicating real-world historical misogyny in their settings, and presenting it as the major obstacle that female lead characters must overcome. I look forward to exploring the sequels.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bogdan Capitanoiu

    What's this? Fits the old style fantasy cannon, of Donaldson :) Was it nice? Yeah, good fantasy, with a new-old magic system, some evil entities and some confused maybe if in need of rescue, guys. What did I love about it(not loved it))? The beginning where the magical world was sipping in. In a perfectly believable full of resistance(of change from this real world to a real world with maybe some dark touch to it).e.g. characters were hard to convince that something is strange about. Would I read the 2 What's this? Fits the old style fantasy cannon, of Donaldson :) Was it nice? Yeah, good fantasy, with a new-old magic system, some evil entities and some confused maybe if in need of rescue, guys. What did I love about it(not loved it))? The beginning where the magical world was sipping in. In a perfectly believable full of resistance(of change from this real world to a real world with maybe some dark touch to it).e.g. characters were hard to convince that something is strange about. Would I read the 2nd..and son on? Looking for a reason... but maybe...as just like in GOT all characters are weak, and the strong ones have no prior back story ...OK mysterious mysterious, but at the end of the book I need to know what was yr motivation to be in that forest..not reason...but motivation..don't make me read 5 more books couse of a question from the 1st 10 pages of the series...not fair...not fair...but I guess this is a writing technique... arguably mostly used to hide lack of experience :) So my beef was that till the last page the main characters were not only kept in the dark by everyone, but they took it as granted, instead of touching their funny curious bone. I read because I want to know, but the main dudes whenever were not explained or not getting an answer they would just go for a walk...(where coincidentally something always happened)...instead of getting angry and beating some answers out...like Where the f am I? (Donaldson did it the best...guy went mental....cause of that...besides the preparation ground done by his debilitating trait inserted from the 1st page, in each page, till the end :) )

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Maddox

    Two books finished in two days... I'm on a roll! First of all I'm giving this book 3.5 out of 5. It was a long slog getting through this book but ultimately it was worth it. It started off slow and as a result it didn't hold my interest much. It put it down a few times, vowing not to continue but something kept bringing me back and ultimately i'm glad I did. The plot was definitely a slow burner but about half way through it really kicked in and from that point I became hooked on the story of Trav Two books finished in two days... I'm on a roll! First of all I'm giving this book 3.5 out of 5. It was a long slog getting through this book but ultimately it was worth it. It started off slow and as a result it didn't hold my interest much. It put it down a few times, vowing not to continue but something kept bringing me back and ultimately i'm glad I did. The plot was definitely a slow burner but about half way through it really kicked in and from that point I became hooked on the story of Travis, Grace and their adventures in the world of Eldh. The characters were fascinating and very layered. They weren't you typical fantasy heroes, they were flawed, unsure of themselves and in my opinion a realistic portrayal of people from our world flung into another world full of magic, knights and monsters. Obviously I have a few nitpicks. The story was slow to begin like I said before. The description got a little repetitive and seemed a little unnecessary at times. Clothing seemed to be a big deal and the amount of description of what the characters are wearing seemed odd to me, especially towards the end of the story. Some instances made sense but others seems out of place. At the end of the day it was a good, if predictable at times, fantasy tale and I would definitely recommend it to any fantasy fans out there. I'll be continuing with the story in due time and can't wait to see more of the characters and their fight against the Pale King.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    This is the beginning to one of my favorite fantasy series. By "favorite" I don't mean one of the most original and groundbreaking fantasy series out there - Anthony is clearly using many of the hoary old fantasy tropes, so fantasy readers won't be too surprised by most of the plot twists (though a few might take you by surprise), but he uses them well and makes them seem fresher than they really are. It's fairly compelling and readable, and while I think some other fantasy series are objectivel This is the beginning to one of my favorite fantasy series. By "favorite" I don't mean one of the most original and groundbreaking fantasy series out there - Anthony is clearly using many of the hoary old fantasy tropes, so fantasy readers won't be too surprised by most of the plot twists (though a few might take you by surprise), but he uses them well and makes them seem fresher than they really are. It's fairly compelling and readable, and while I think some other fantasy series are objectively better-written and plotted, I return to this series more often, rereading it every year or two. It centers around two characters from modern-day Colorado, bar-owner Travis Wilder and doctor Grace Beckett, who end up through a series of harrowing events being transported to a fantastic otherworld known as Eldh. While neither of these characters are incredibly original at the beginning - though Grace's spiky edges do make her seem more interesting even from the start - both grow considerably over the course of the series, and the relationships they develop with the inhabitants of Eldh definitely enrich the story considerably. As they hobnob with gods, immortals, warriors, and witches alike, they find their place in this new world even as, in later books, they find the connection between Earth and Eldh is closer than they suspect.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Lambert-Maberly

    To be fair, I bailed on this somewhere near the beginning, but (in terms of pages read) would be definitely the middle of most books ... this book is long. Too long, as it turns out, as it just feels stretched out and sloggy. There are a few decent/interesting moments, and then everything crashes to earth again as uninteresting people do expected-fantasy-trope things. It may very well get better near the end, or in book two, or four, but I'm not going to wait for that any more (this year I've rea To be fair, I bailed on this somewhere near the beginning, but (in terms of pages read) would be definitely the middle of most books ... this book is long. Too long, as it turns out, as it just feels stretched out and sloggy. There are a few decent/interesting moments, and then everything crashes to earth again as uninteresting people do expected-fantasy-trope things. It may very well get better near the end, or in book two, or four, but I'm not going to wait for that any more (this year I've really taken "life is short" seriously ... my Dad died, and I'm feeling mortal, and my worst fear is that I'll die some day without having read all my favourite undiscovered books ... and time spent on a book that definitely won't be a fave is time wasted. So I bail). The beginning is a bit Stephen King-ish, and then the just-past-beginning is a bit Donaldson-ish (i.e. Thomas Covenant), and as I've said neither is very grabby. Still, others have liked it--if you're a huge fan of slow set-up, little explanation, and travelling in woods, go for it. If you're after a lesser-known, fun, fantasy series from a few decades ago, I'd read Duncan's Magic Casement series instead. (Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Hernandez

    It was a bit of a slow start for me to get into Beyond the Pale. I appreciated the author allowing transitions into two different worlds, but only became drawn in when the main characters entered into the world of Eldh. However, I recognize this is merely my preference of reading as an escape from our contemporary world. Part of what inhibited my pull into the story was the author’s description heavy writing style. Normally, I appreciate a lot of detail for my imaginary story canvas. I think the It was a bit of a slow start for me to get into Beyond the Pale. I appreciated the author allowing transitions into two different worlds, but only became drawn in when the main characters entered into the world of Eldh. However, I recognize this is merely my preference of reading as an escape from our contemporary world. Part of what inhibited my pull into the story was the author’s description heavy writing style. Normally, I appreciate a lot of detail for my imaginary story canvas. I think the level of detail went awry after the umpteenth mentions of Grace’s ash-blond hair, Travis’ scratchy bear, Beltan’s thinning hair, etc. Like an aged truck, the story finally started moving along, and my interest started to grow. I am definitely interested in continuing the series. With that I’ll close with a line from the book that put a smile on my face: “Too often in this world people mistook fast for smart, loud for important, and angry for righteous.”

  30. 4 out of 5

    T.W. Spencer

    This is an excellent book! I just had to pull it off the shelf and read it again. It has everything I expect in a book: well written, strong characters, likable protagonist the reader can get behind and cheer-on. I have read reviews that have “claimed” that this series is derivative of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time repetitive monstrosity. Well don’t believe them. These books are actually absorbing and exciting, and have a lot going on in them, whereas – in my humble opinion – Wheel of Time is an This is an excellent book! I just had to pull it off the shelf and read it again. It has everything I expect in a book: well written, strong characters, likable protagonist the reader can get behind and cheer-on. I have read reviews that have “claimed” that this series is derivative of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time repetitive monstrosity. Well don’t believe them. These books are actually absorbing and exciting, and have a lot going on in them, whereas – in my humble opinion – Wheel of Time is an exceptionally long sleep-fest. Not to mention you get the bonus of the protagonist, Travis, getting the hot blonde Knight in the end. It also has a decidedly Stephen King-esque quality to it: very scary and dark at times. Along the lines of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. Go on read the series you won't be disappointed! Tim

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