The Joraiem Factor

As evidenced even by comments in the last few months on this blog, it looks like some people were upset that Joraiem died at the end of Beyond the Summerland.

All right, so that’s a little tongue-in-cheek. The outrage over Joraiem’s death (or “Jory” as a friend of mine likes to refer to him when seeking to irritate me) was strong and pretty much immediate when the book came out in 2004. So, I thought I might take a minute, now that the series is so close to being completed, to reflect once again on this event that is still, in some ways, the defining moment of The Binding of the Blade to date.

As I’ve said elsewhere, the vehement reactions to Joraiem’s death suprised me a bit. At least at first, they did. After a while, I got used to them. As I reflected in those early months on just how strong the reactions were, and as I’ve reflected since, I’ve had several reactions.

One reaction, though not necessarily the first one, was that I was pleased. Not because I like irritating people, but because for people to react that strongly to a fictional character, they had to like him. So, even as some readers were expressing their anger at me, which at times was expressed pretty strongly, it was a kind of odd compliment. They cared enough about this person I’d created to take the time to chew me out when he died. For those who actually read on, beyond Beyond, I’m sure it became apparent that Joraiem’s death was pretty important to the story. So, caring about his death, was also pretty important for the reader to buy into the story that followed. So, all the feelings that were expressed so vividly and continue to be expressed about that event are in their own way, encouraging. They suggest that I succeeded in getting readers attached to the characters and to the world.

Another reaction, was a desire to figure out just why the reader reaction was so strong. I’ve gotten into stories I’ve read, but sending “hate” mail to the author hasn’t been a normative practice when the story took a turn I didn’t like. (To be fair, true “hate mail” has been relatively rare, but many have made it very clear they were none to pleased…) So why such a strong response? As I reflected on it, I saw two main reasons why readers responded so strongly and why I had not foreseen it, though perhaps I should have.

The first reason was that readers at the conclusion of Beyond the Summerland had no feel for how the story and world could go forward without Joraiem. I knew the whole story. I knew the trajectory of the next 4 books. I knew Joraiem was never intended to be a continuing character. I could reconcile myself to the fact that he was not the hero of the whole series. I knew all this, but my readers didn’t. For them, Beyond the Summerland was all they knew of Kirthanin. Thus putting the loss of Joraiem in perspective was not easy for them.

The second reason readers attached so strongly to Joraiem & that attachment suprised me, was that the decision to tell almost the whole story of Beyond the Summerland from Joraiem’s perspective came relatively late in the planning stages. For those who’ve read the other books, you know that the perspective frequently shifts among the main characters. Rulalin, Aljeron, Benjiah, Wylla, etc., all take turns being the focal point of the narrative. Originally, that was the plan for Beyond as well. Relatively late in the game, though, I thought to myself, ‘Self, in a way, this is really Joraiem’s story, so maybe I should use him as the exclusive narrator for all scenes in which he is a part.’ So I did, and instead of having Joraiem be one of many central characters, he became the central character. Obviously, this heightened the attachment of the reader to Joraiem, and I should have foreseen that this would have an impact on reader responses to the end of the book.

So, at that point, I felt like I understood a bit about why the strong reactions had surprised me. I could see what others couldn’t about how the story went forward, and I had underestimated the affect of telling the story almost exclusively from Joraiem’s perspective. However, I still didn’t really understand why people were that upset. After all, Joraiem wasn’t real. BOTB is just a story.

Well, this leads me to a third reaction I’ve had over the years, as I continue to hear from readers, some of whom have just come to the story and experienced Joraiem’s death for the first time, some of whom read the book years ago but are still clinging four books later to the thin hope that Joraiem will show up again. This reaction isn’t that I’ve been reminded how powerful stories can be in the lives of readers, though that is certainly true. This reaction is that I’ve found the strong, visceral response of readers to Joraiem’s death to reaffirm the validity of my central theme. The Binding of the Blade is about the longing we have for the world to be made right, to be made new, for war to be abolished and peace to be established. It’s about the deep hunger, which I believe our creator built into us, to long for the brokenness of the world to be healed. Thus, even in stories, when we encounter evil, we respond with outrage. Even in stories, when we encounter grief and loss, we desire comfort and reunion.

All My Holy Mountain is my attempt to offer a fictional vision of what that restoration might be like. I hope my readers find in it, at least some of the resolution and restoration for which they long.

73 thoughts on “The Joraiem Factor

  • When I first read BtS, I read that section and when I put the book down, I was just almost in shock. I just laid down, and thought about it hard. I purchased the next tentatively. I had loved Beyond the Summerland, but was wasn’t sure if you could get the story to climb out of such a deep ravine. I loved the next one too, so I bought the next two. I’m glad I did, and now see the nessesity of the death.

  • I think that the reason readers were so upset about Joraiem’s death was not just because they cared about him, but also because there was no foreshadowing of his doom earlier in the book. As the book nears its end, we feel no unease at hearing of a meeting with Rulalin, and so Joraiem’s murder felt like a stab to our own hearts. It felt wrong. I don’t mind a story in which a favorite character dies, but I do want to be able at least to look back in the story and see the signs. If you had forseen that negative mail was coming, would you have felt differently about receiving it?

  • Dear L.B.Graham,
    I am 13 and I mostly agreed with your other fans when Joraiem was kille by Rulalin in the Summerland.But when I finished withthe other three books,I realized that Benjiah really fit in well with ther series.I have read all of youtr books and I can’t wait to read “All My Holy Mountain”when it comes out.Thanks for writing The Binding of the Blade.
    Benjamin Chavers age:13

  • I was not so much upset at Joraiem’s death at first — even though I liked him a lot, it made me want to read the rest of the series, not avoid the other books. However, when I reached Father of Dragons, it finally bothered me. Here’s why.

    At the end of the third book Aljeron meets someone on the mountain, and it is obviously someone he did not expect. The identity of the person, of course, was not revealed, because it built suspense. While waiting for the fourth book, my brother and I made theories as to who the person was. Valzaan seemed to be the obvious answer, but it was too obvious. In fact, Valzaan was the ONLY answer except — Joraeim. It had to be Joraeim who returned. We felt that you, the author, were trying to make us think it was Valzaan, but really the great happy suprise would be Joraeim.

    After all, at the end of Beyond The Summerland Allfather said to Joraeim “sleep just for a little while”. Why would Joraeim have prophetic powers and never get to fully use them? Surely because he would return. After all, he didn’t need them to pass them on to his son, as Monias had no such powers to pass on to Joraeim. So Allfather clearly gave Joraeim powers so he could use them. Joraeim would return and defeat Malek. That was our theory. We seriously thought it was bulletproof.

    Then the fourth book came and the big reveal was — Valzaan. Now believe me, I love Valzaan — he is one of the coolest characters. But after hoping for Joraeim’s return, I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed.

    Just my thoughts. Of course, who knows (but the author) what the fifth book will hold!

  • Several comments have come in, and rather than responding to them all individually, let me respond in general to two points made in them.

    First of all, to Spiff, I appreciate that you were disappointed. I also appreciate that you acknowledged in your disappointment that the series isn’t over and “All My Holy Mountain” is still coming. I won’t guarantee that AMHM will take care of your disappointment – I can’t do that, but I’m optimistic that it might help. Ie, I hope you’ll believe in the end why Valzaan, not Joraiem, needed to come back.

    Second of all, to Susan, I must strongly disagree about the “lack of foreshadowing” claim. I started foreshadowing the end of the book in the very first scene with Joraiem in Chapter One. His constant unease by the water, his vision on the way to Sulare beside the Barunaan, basically of being stabbed, his vision of a funeral – his – while on the Forbidden Isle. It was there in spades. I’ve had people say, ‘yes, the foreshadowing was there, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon, in book 1,’ and that I understand. But, to say it wasn’t there, isn’t really accurate.

  • When I first read that section of BtS I was thinking “Nooo. This isn’t real! It’s another of those foreshadowing scenes.” It wasn’t until after Aljeron and Wylla were carrying him back to Dal Harat that I finally stopped hoping he would be back. But now that I’ve read the other three books it does make sense that he should die for the continuation of the story.

  • Thanks for your reply — I am looking forward to “All My Holy Mountain” and seeing how the series concludes. I have thoroughly enjoyed the series overall.

  • I was disappointed when he died. Even after reading the books following it, I still hope he’ll be back. There may have been foreshadowing, LB, but I think that unless you were looking specifically for it, you wouldn’t have thought of it. I mean, how often is it that the main character of a series this big gets killed at the end of book one? I saw nothing to indicate he would die at the end. As such, I was saddened that he died, but also disappointed that such a great character with so much potential was only used to pass on some genes to Benjiah. I’m still hoping for his return, but the series wasn’t quite the same for me without him. I love the books, and will continue to read them, but without Joraiem, I just felt that a part of the world had been torn away. It was nowhere apparent in the first book that he wasn’t the main and central character. To me, at least at first, it didn’t make sense that he was dead. But that’s all to say, while I’m disappointed, I’m still holding out for his return.

  • I don’t have much to add to what I’ve already said here, but to your thought, “how often is it that the main character of a series this big gets killed at the end of book one,” I’ll simply say that he wasn’t the main character of the series, just book 1, (though granted, you didn’t know that until after book 1), and also, doing something unusual isn’t necessarily bad in my opinion. Ie, just because it isn’t often done is not an argument against doing it. If you want to tell a story about longing for restoration, about the brokenness of the world, it seems sensible to show the brokenness and to give the reader a reason to long for the restoration. You’re still hoping he’ll be back, so I guess it worked. If you felt at ease with it, then maybe something would have been wrong…

  • I understand what you’re saying, and agree with it, but as a reader, my own feelings aren’t always mine to command. It is very true that it is not bad to break away from the usual, but it is not always wise. (I’m not referring to this instance, just in a broader sense.) In any case, I see your point about a broken world, etc, but that doesn’t change my opinion as strictly a reader. As a more objective stance, I see why it would be so and why it was a good thing to do, but not as a personal reader of the books.

  • Joraiem’s death was part of what pulled me to read the rest of the series. Although I loved him as a character, I realized fairly soon that he wasn’t meant to be central to the entire series. To some degree it would be nice for him to return, but I do not believe that that will happen until the resurrection of all of Kirthanin. I doubt that Joraiem’s gifts will ever be needed. As for Valzaan’s return in book 4, I was somewhat disappointed that it was a prophet at all. I though Valzaan’s and Joraiem’s purposes were fulfilled and rather hoped for a new character at that point.

  • i definately saw the foreshadowing…..i just was hoping it wouldn’t have joraiem killed.

    I’m still going to hold out hope for amhm.
    I tend to not listen when author’s are trying to be allusive…..they aren’t supposed to give anything away and they don’t want to so they won’t say what happens and act mysterious so i’ll just have to wait for the book. ^.^
    which i can hardly wait to read.

  • As I read up to the event where Joriam meets Rulalin I was dreading it. When Rulalin stabbed Joriam I felt shock, disappointment, and even anger at Rulalin! As I finished the book I thought to myself what happens to Rulalin? who is the new prophet? I have to wait 3 months for the next book? Anyways I thought it was a masterful stroke of writing because it was unexpected and my reaction to his death was so strong.

  • I think I saw the fore-shadowing, but I tend to ignore such things. I like it better when I’m surprised by some ending. The ending was pretty surprising though even with the fore-shadowing.

  • Hello,

    I read BtS just before Bringer of Storms came out. I started the book not liking Joraiem much, because of his behaviour toward that other girl. Along the way I forgave him as he realized how stupid he had been, and later really started to like him. I saw the fore-shadowing all through the story, but was not the least concerned because authors never kill a character and LEAVE him dead. When Rulalin asked him to come to the beach, I knew exactly what would happen and I dreaded poor Joraiem going through that. Valzaan was coming to the beach though; everything would turn out fine, and Rulalin would be caught and punished. When I realized that Joraiem was really DEAD and that Rulalin had ESCAPED, rage overtook me. I slammed the book shut, drew back my arm, and ALMOST threw it across the room (Till I remembered that it was a library book). I am not a violent person. Most people say that I am a usually placid person. For a long time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read the next book or not. Eventually the strength of the story drew me back in, and I kept reading. I hated Rulalin. Then I despised him. Now he is an absolute worm beneath my notice or pity, except to hope that he gets what’s coming to him. Why?

    I thought about that for a very long time and finally came to a conclusion. I see Rulalin in myself. Everything that I hate about my self is him. Sin. He did what he did, knowing exactly what he was doing, but he did it anyway. When we sin, if we have any conscience left, we do it with the full knowledge that what we do is wrong. And while I am very glad to get forgiveness myself, I can’t bear the idea that Rulalin can still repent. Yet, that is exactly the position that I am in. I sinned. I knew it was wrong. God still lets me repent, if I will. I’m supposed to love people like God loves them, yet I still have this reaction… it seems I have a long way to go.

    You are absolutely right. I hate Joraiem’s death because justice wasn’t done. I want justice, and long for the day when Jesus comes to set up his kingdom and dispense justice. Just, not for myself… please…

    The Saxman (Zachary Doyle)

    P.S. Once I read All My Holy Mountain, I’m going to write up my view on the series as a whole. You are probably not interested (being very busy), but I’d like to send it to you when it’s done. Don’t worry! It would be a LOT better organized than this ramble! *chuckles*

  • Like the other readers, I was fairly distraught to hear of Joraiem’s death, but for a different stated reason.
    While I am aware of the idea of killing primary characters (A Game of Thrones, Left Behind)I believe Joraiem was the first time I encountered an idealized version of how I view myself. His faults on the whole seem minor (and they work to his benefit eventually), he is well loved by other people, a natural leader, and he is immensely talented at a useful skill.
    This desire to associate him with myself was furthered (as you said) by his position as the narrator. All of this culminates with his death, one in which someone with immense potential is killed for seemingly inconsequential reasons (or rather, reasons that do not rationally lead to death).
    This feeling of loss (of a strong character associated with myself) is exacerbated by the fact that epilogue aside, the book ends on a fairly saddening note, similar to Father of Dragons.
    Of course, in reading the books after, I see the logic in Joraiem’s death, and I agree that only the reader’s strong involvement with Joraiem keeps the war with Fel Edorath from appearing trivial but (in my personal view) Malek had the strength to come out against the full might of Fel Edorath without that war and so the war itself acts as an unneccessry (though logical) plot device.

  • I’m not sure I see the connection in your last paragraph with your main point. You are correct that Malek’s strength to move on Fel Edorath, and all of Kirthanin for that matter, is not appreciably increased by killing Joraiem. That wasn’t the point.

    Malek’s hubris is such that he isn’t entirely sure he can be threatened by the likes of a mere mortal, but prophecy suggests a child will come who spells doom for him. This idea becomes an obsession to him over the long years, so while he prepares his army for his final assault, he takes steps to make sure no such child can stand in his way. Killing Joraiem is, in that light, a prudential step, “just in case” he is in fact the child of prophecy. For the same reason, Benjiah now hangs suspended, awaiting his death.

  • I actually thought that the best part of book one was the fact that Joraiem died at the end. It was the primary thing that made me say “Wow! What an amazing book!” I only just read it, and haven’t gotten around to the other books yet, but I think that it was a great way to end the book.


  • I see why you did it…but I’ll never like it. Every time I reread that section I feel like screaming! Noooooo! RULALIN!
    [Incidently, by FoD, I am feeling sympathy for Rulalin due to his repentence, and his apparent death/serious injury in the first chapter of AMHM increases it. I don’t really know if I want him to die or not.]

    BotB is known to my mom [who has heard only my comments] as “that series where the author kills the main characters.” And the endings of the books drive me nuts, but I keep reading anyway. As for Valzaan’s return, I LOVED it. I can’t wait for AMHM.

  • I must say that although I saw the foreshadowing, I was really caught of guard, by his death.

  • I have to agree with Galadriel, that whenever I read BtS, I feel like somehow stopping Rulalin, espesially seeing how much he hated himself for it afterwards. But I think I may know why people were so upset when “Jory” died. Joraiem was the character they identified with. He was THE main character. It’s like if Frodo died in LOTR.

  • Well, you’ve explained the reason behind Joariem’s death a lot throughout the books etc, LB. I’m satisfied, I guess, with the way the books have gone. From an outside unemotional, kind of critical view, it makes sense.

    But, if you get to the [i]emotional[/i] feelings while reading BtS, well then. I’ll admit I cried, quite embarrassingly :), when I came to the end of the book. I hoped to find an answer in the Epilogue, I read through the last pages of BtS pleading it wasn’t true, while crying throughout the entire process, only to find not an answer at all, but an even more heart wrenching fact…Joraiem’s son would never know him.

    Okay, so that’s the sad part, but the reason I said all that, (yes there is a reason) is…

    BtS was a very emotional grabbing book, especially for me, it was my first venture into the more modern fantasy books. BtS captivated me emotionally, LB you rather played upon my feelings quite wonderfully πŸ™‚

    Joraiem was the first hero for me outside of LOTR, and in LOTR you can still have your heroes, but they were never as openly emotional, to me at least, as Joraiem. And to this again you’ve replied excellently, that Joraiem was never the ‘hero’ of the whole series. But what I found happened to me was in BtS I was so emotionally attached to Joraiem that when he died, the emotion and excitement of turning the pages of Joariem’s adventure died with it. I’ll have to admit, that out of all your books so far, BtS has always been the best to me. BtS was always the most emotionally captivating. I have to say, LB, that because of Joraiem’s death I think throughout reading the other ones, I was doing everything in my power not to become attached to any of the characters, fearing that if I did so, they’d end up dieing again.

    Hmm, I don’t think that made much sense πŸ™‚

  • It makes perfect sense, and self-protection after loss is natural. It will be interesting when “All My Holy Mountain” is out (finally) and you can read it and look back over the whole series, if there are any shifts in your perspective…

  • Okay! πŸ™‚ I’ll try and remember to re-comment on this after I’ve read the new book.

  • I was surprised when it happened but the books still are cool without Joraiem. I’d Say I like them As much as the lord of the rings. I hope that u right more books too.

  • by the way i have a really stupid unrelated question. Is your first name just L.B. or is that just your first and middle initial?

  • I still cry at the end of Beyond the Summerland every time I read it even though I know what’s going to happen. Joraiem was and still is my favorite character. Terrific job on connecting the character to the reader! And I agree with you on one aspect…Joraiem’s death led to the rest of the series!

  • After Joraiem died at the end of the first book i didn’t know if i wanted to read the next books but reading this blog definitely helped me and now i want to read on


  • I guess the same way any plot development is decided – you just plan to do it that way. If you’re asking why, the answer is because the rest of the series flows from that crucial moment.

  • I think people reacted so strongly when Joraiem died because nearly the whole story is told through his eyes and you go through everything that happens in the story with him, knowing his thoughts and go through all the challenges he faces with him and then when he dies you sort of feel like your connection with Kirthanin is broken and you can’t see how you can continue the story without him but then in the next book you adapt to the story being told by more than one character and it is still a good book even though you dont have that kind of connection with Joraiem any more.

    Well that’s how I felt anyway.

    I loved the first book. I read it in less than one day. I couldn’t put it down.

  • When I first read Beyond the Summerland Joraiem’s death I was sooooooooo surprised. I reread those final lines 3 times. When I realized he was not coming back I got somewhat depressed. The worst part was that the second book had not been written. I had to wait another year before I could continue the story.

  • Well i loved the story and how its had some elements of a guiding hand(God) involved. Guess what got me at end was how Joraiem was blessed when he was going where allfather wanted and doing what He wanted done. Then given the hope for some real happiness at end(only a couple of weeks with his beloved) Then all he done was rewarded by allfather being through using him, and so now a simple knife stab could do want a horde of baddies couldnt.But its cool Allfather got what he wanted so wasnt any reason to protect him, because the next pawn was on the way.(yes i was upset because it seemed unfair, i know the axiom life isnt fair..)At least thats what it felt like to me…he was abandoned.I thankfully realize this as fiction and know this is for entertainment not a primer on how The true God really is. But it was still frustrating. Hope ive given you another reason why some didnt like the moment of triump marred.All in all i still think you have a masterful way of storytelling.But i think ill avoid the rest of series though,sounds like the story of a fatherless boy, the ending of book 1 was too wounding.I’ll give your next series a try though thanks

  • I’m sorry you found the ending to book 1 “too wounding.” I think, though, that while life doesn’t always function so tragically, it sometimes does. To suggest that Allfather is responsible for the wicked acts of all His creatures, in this case, Rulalin, would give you some prettys serious problems if you apply that thinking to our world. Every time a murderer strikes, do you think this is God taking another pawn off the board since He has a new one ready? Or do you believe that we are responsible for our own moral failings?

    One final thought. As a son who lost a father (to cancer, not to murder), let me suggest that stories of fatherless boys, as you put it, aren’t entirely depressing. πŸ™‚ The rest of the series may restore the hope you think you’ve lost. After all, you’re only 20% of the way through!

  • Dude another thing was that I know that Joriam will be back in the end of book 5 as will the other characters who died.
    Your book’s are very good and I hope u keep writing them

  • I have just finished reading BtS last night, which was quite a pity, because I couldn’t concentrate at all today in school and I didn’t really want the book to end.
    You visited PCA a few years ago, Mr. Graham, and though I knew of Joariam’s death, I thought it would be honorable and valiant, not cold murder. Now I know that Rudalin returns to the series- and when I read that just a minute ago I was fuming. But then again, I haven’t finished the series, so I shouldn’t be complaining. Yet Joariem had soo much promise and valor! What happened to his being a prophet? And Wylla! Why couldn’t the knife had hit Evriam’s father’s necklace thingy and saved Joariam? Why couldn’t Valzaan have gotton there sooner? Why couldn’t Rudalin have been caught? For the meantime I have been imagining other endings, all involving Joariam being ALIVE, and since I don’t have the rest of the books YET, I still need to be patient. I just wish Joariam and Wylla could have continued on as man and wife instead of the deseased and his widow. I feel sorry for her and the baby! Aljerjon(sorry for the misspelling) too, as well as Valzaan. They were all so close! It seems like there could have been other options than having to kill off Joariam. πŸ™

  • So, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you’re not happy about this?

    I’d like to tell you that you’ll forgive me for the end of BtS by the time you’re finished the series, but I can’t say that for sure. Not everyone has, but I can say that most people forgive me by the time they’re finished. I hope you’ll carry on and see how the story plays out. You’re only 20% of the way there – a lot left to go!

  • I saw the foreshadowings for what they were–I actually thought it was kind of obvious : )–but I was as despairing as the rest of the world when Joraiem died. I knew something bad was going to happen on the beach, too. And even now, after reading the end of the series, I have trouble forgiving Rulalin for what he did. But overall, well done L.B. on the ending. That is often the hardest part of a series, and you did well. Thanks for BotB, and can’t wait for more!

  • I personally loved Beyond the Summerland (I just finished it) and even though I hate that Joraeim dies (it was just a total shock) I know that his death was necessary and I am one of those people who cling to the hope that he returns.

  • This is the greatest series I’ve ever read (and even though I’m only 15 I’ve probably read more books than most people when they are 25 so Its is the best book I’ve read out of many many books) and Ive read it five times! BTS was definitely the best. I saw the foreshadowing of Joraiem’s death early on, but unlike most people I read about, I really did not want Joraiem to die. I was crushed as I continued through the book and saw little by little my fears confirmed. Then as It got closer to the end he fell in love with Wylla and got married and the rift with Rulalin seemed as though it might be able to heal(this was who I thought was going to kill Joraiem) when Rulalin asked to talk at the end I thought mabye he would live till the next book but when wylla told joraiem she had a bad feeling about it I knew it was in vain. I read on and struggled through the last despairing chapters. Then I reread those same chapters just because I couldnt accept it. Later I read the whole book again and found myself willing Rulalin to die after the last battle, or to accept that he lost Wylla, or for Joraiem to know something was wrong on that beach, but in the end it was all the same and I was again left with that empty feeling. All in all it was the best book i ever read though, partially because it was all so real and painful u really made me feel as though some how I was evrim or Aljeron losing their greatest friend. it was sad.

    Im still hoping that that wound in my heart (yes i know it sounds wierd but I was that attached to him)will be healed at the end by at least having everything restored at the end and Benjiah gets to have a long reunion with his father as well as wylla aljeron and evrim. I emphasis long because I hate books where something like this happens and it just says something about and there was their father waiting for them. ugg but Ill just hav to read the book to find out which i havent gotten yet, but Ill be okay If there isnt a long reunion because this would still be the best book I ever read!

  • Hello.

    Sorry to bring this up after so long. When I read the book I thought it was pretty Ok, until the very very end, his death, at which point, I, like many other readers, became absolutely fuming. I even wrote in the margins of my book: “What? You can NOT DO THAT!”

    I am very hesitant to resume the series at this point. Obviously there was a point where I connected with Joraiem (who was the main character of the book), and shared his happiness with Wylla, and obviously I haven’t read the other books and don’t know the whole picture. And obviously there was some foreshadowing. My two points (that I don’t believe have been addressed) are these:
    1. Joraiem’s character and abilities were developed to no purpose. Why was he a prophet in the first place?
    2. He died in such a stupid manner. After surviving all those adventures and ending up safely married to Wylla, he was simply stabbed by an insane jealous friend. Nothing heroic or artistic about that. Furthermore (especially if one didn’t take the foreshadowing to mean his death in the FIRST book of the series), after almost 600 pages of getting to know him very well, the reader is left with only 4 pages to reconcile his death. There’s a feeling of emptiness and brokenness that I commend you for being able to create, but I think it goes too far into creating feelings of despair and hopelessness with this trite and stupid ending to the hero. You mentioned that it is only a story, and that is true. But a good story should connect with the heart, and reading that story I felt my trust in the author violated, that he would do anything and in any manner so that he could get the “unexpected ending” to the book that he was hoping for. Four pages wasn’t enough to reconcile my sadness or rage at the stupidity. It reminded me of that one TV series where the main character was shot at the end of the last episode. Many things are unresolved in real life and when you read a story, to some extent there should be some kind of resolution in a story to make it enjoyable. I know that life is like that. I didn’t expect that to happen in this story like this. Anyways, I’ve warned my friends of the ending of the book so that they don’t have to go through the same thing I did. I forgive you now for taking advantage of me to get an “unexpected ending” and filling me for a few days with emptiness. I hope that the last book makes it all worth it, but to be honest I don’t want to read through to find out.

    God Bless

  • Fiona,

    I’ll be brief as I’ve dealt with this elsewhere. You’ve been “direct” in your comments, so allow me to be direct in my reply. You use the word “stupid” a lot in your analysis, and I’d like to suggest you reserve judgement about the relative stupidity of the decision in question, since you don’t know where the story goes or if the series rises above it. I understand that at this point, you don’t see how it could, but that’s different than reading the story and deciding that it doesn’t once you have all the facts.

    Think of it this way, you’ve read a whole book, but that book is only 20% of the story. I’d suggest that 20% is not enough to know if the whole story works or not.

    Lastly, you keep saying I wrote what I wrote just to get an “unexpected ending.” If that was the only reason I did it, then you’d be right to be upset. It wasn’t a gimmick. The unexpected and seemingly senseless betrayal of Joraiem by his friend is actually the act that sets in motion the most important events of the rest of the series.

    Of course you don’t have to read on, and you wouldn’t be the first who decided not to, but you’ll only know if the death in question was more than a gimmick if you do.

  • I have to admitt I HATED it when Joraiem died. I was soooo sad after I finished it just sat and fumed! But then when I finished the series I understood why he died. And I LOVED how the fifth book ended!!! That was AMAZING!!!!!! You’re a really good writer! Thank you for writing the series. :)I enjoyed them a lot. And I hope you write more books πŸ™‚

  • Dear Mr. Graham,
    Contrary to other comments, I thought you did a really good job on the ending of the first book. Sure, Joraiem died, but this death plays out on events in the later books. You also did a VERY good job on connecting the reader to the characters. A VERY good job! With this book, you stirred up emotions in people by having one of your characters die. Nice job! And thanks for not stopping on that one book :)…the ending of the fifth book wrapped it all up wonderfully. Thanks! πŸ™‚

  • LB Graham,

    Wow, you responded. I find your communication with your fans very admirable. Thanks for that.

    Fair enough. I guess I don’t know for sure without reading the story. I still probably won’t go on.

    And yes, I used the word stupid 3 times. But you will note each time I used it it referred to the same thing – the mode of the death of Joriaem. I can’t say whether or not his death in the end is worthwhile, but I don’t think I was out of line in referring to such a trite and pointless ending to the hero. However, I will allow that the sudden stabbing and 4 pages to allow the reader to fully realize his death COULD also have a point to them that I would not be able to see having only read the one book.

    I do still wonder why he was a prophet in the first place though – and notice the lack of answer… though I take the point that I should read the books in the first place before I comment in the future – that could be revealed later. I apologize for not doing so before – I was just a little caught up emotionally so I spoke without thinking. Sorry

  • I don’t disagree that it would seem senseless for a young man with so much potential and promise – in this case even prophetic ability – to die in a sudden and awful way, cut down before realizing his capabilities. Unfortunately, this happens in real life, and my hope was to capture that feel of senselessness here in book one, and then tell a tale where even despite the terrible things that happen, good is brought from evil, and redemption is found.

  • Mr. Graham
    When I first read BTS I was so mad at you for killing the best character ever created. More importantly I was mad at his murderer. I found my self picking up the next book so I could discover if Aljeron could take revenge. As I did and began reading you began to switch characters views. This was okay until you came to Rulalin. At this I said to myself,”why are we dealing with this guy again!” I closed the book and did not open it until I couldn’t resit the temptation to read again. Which happened in abound five minutes. LOL. Anyway as I began with Rulalin again, I slowly, ever so slowly, began to forgive him. The way you showed his thoughts on what he had done began to envoke compassion in me for him. By the end of the second book I had forgiven him completely but was still a little mad at you for killing Joraiem in the first place. After the end of AMHM I had forgiven you, but one question still remains in me that I can’t seem to find an answer to. what was the reason Joraiem could not have been the child of prophecy. Obviously he was too old but you could have made him younger. I guess what I’m really asking you is when you first thought of writing the series what was the reason to have an intire book dedicated to a character who obviously helps produce the child of prophecy but in the end dies? What is Joraiems purpose in the story other than Benjiah?

  • Noah – There are a lot of things to say in answer to your question. One of them would be that on the level of narrative, Joraiem is not only the father of the ‘child of prophecy,’ but his murder is the ‘inciting moment’ for the whole series. That’s literary jargon for saying that Joraiem’s murder sets in motion the rest of the story. Rulalin’s betrayal creates enough enmity and hatred among the Novaana, who are supposed to be united rather than divided by their time in Sulare, that Kirthanin itself is dragged into civil war, thus creating enough chaos for Malek to make his 3rd attempt at conquest. In short, Joraiem’s death is absolutely critical for the rest of the story.

    A second point would be, that thematically, the story behind the story is all about hoping for restoration. To love Joraiem and then lose him helps make this point for the reader – we long for the day when Joraiem will live again. It is painful to love someone and lose them, in fiction as in real life, but that’s really the point in the end. Hence the beauty of the promise that restoration and resurrection will one day come.

  • Dear Mr. Graham,
    I must say that the last scene (please don’t call me sick) was the scene I enjoyed the most. I loved Joraiem, and was sad/angry when he died. But I could just visualize the scene as a film. It was fun to watch the ‘slow-motion’ again and again, to hear the ‘music’ play sadly. It was AWESOME! I wish you could find a minor Christian movie company (say, “Burns Family Studios”, makers of “Pendragon: Sword of His Father) to make it. The hardest part (duh, self) would be all the creatures and things (Black Wolves, Malekim, etc.) being C-G.
    I was introduced to the series through a friend who did an Interpretive Speech on the Black Wolves scene (Chap 10, P1, “Beyond the Summerland”, Chap Title: Footsteps). It’s awesome, and now I can’t wait to tell him about the next series you’re writing.


  • Dear Mr. Graham,
    Joraiem’s death in B1 of the series has given me an inspiration. I am a young (and stupid and terrible and… oh well) writer who is attempting to write a novel (ironically, my ‘finished’ word count is about your ‘half-way’ word count. And I thought I was putting in to many scenes). I will NEARLY kill my main character (A., I don’t have the heart to kill him, he’s cool, B. The whole rest of the series is about him, C. Two other major people die in the book, and three [one being the main character] is too much in my opinion [unless the book is B4 of your series. I think about five die in that book], D. I’m doing this for a curriculum which specifically states that the hero cannot die), but not completely. Sorry for that very long parentheses. I do that a lot. But, I want the character to think that Edmund Skye (My main character) will die. Thanks for the inspiration. I’m going to re-read the last part of your book while writing that part, so it will read like the last chapter. Sigh. It won’t be anywhere as good, but oh well. Phooey.

  • Killing the main character may not be advisable at all – I got a lot of grief for doing it – and certainly not when the rest of the series calls for him to stick around… πŸ™‚

  • Mr. Graham,
    This is a rather late post to this thread but I hope it makes you smile.
    I admit I was very surprised at the death of Joraiem but I was convinced he would show up again so it didn’t get me down. In fact, I was so anxious to read on that I bought the rest of the series the day after I finished BtS. Since AMHM was already out, I didn’t have to wait to have my faith rewarded. I have passed on the series to a number of people and have to laugh at their somewhat violent reaction when they finish BtS. I’ve experienced firsthand a small bit of the anger you’ve been blasted with. It seems that they get madder at me for lending them the books than at you for killing Joraiem:). My husband yelled, my 16yo son yelled and stomped around the house, my pastor called and left a heated message on my answering machine and my 15yo daughter threw the book on the floor, just to name a few. However, without fail, when they finish the series they are really glad they read on. Thanks for writing an awesome series that has stirred up passionate responses in so many people!!

  • i love your books my friend introduced them to me.
    why was joraiem a prophet though. and is are the kalin seir the 4 people reffering to the prophecy.

  • Me and my sister made this up. Is it too irreverent? Jory dies
    Wylla cries
    Aljeron wipes his eyes
    and won’t rest till Rulalin dies
    meanwhile Benjie grows in size.
    Aljeron fights a war
    while Dorant is growing poor
    and Benjiah grows some more
    then Valzaan walks in through the door.
    He says to Wylla “Don’t you see?
    you’re son’s the child of prophecy!”
    Wylla says “It cannot be.”
    Benjiah says “What,who-me?
    Valzaan says “Of course it’s you!
    you’re father was a prophet too.
    Rulalin knows what to do
    abandon his city-
    join Malek too
    (wish Tashmiren would catch the flu…)
    We got stuck on the part about Malek coming forth. Anyway,I hope I spelled the names right!

  • Super big bump here, but… Joraiem’s death is one of the reasons BtS is so epic. When I read the comments on the back of the book about there being a surprise twist at the end, I thought, “It’s probably nothing more than the main character dying.” (By the way, in the future, I wouldn’t put comments like that on the back of your books πŸ˜‰ )
    If there’s one thing I dislike, it’s predictability. (Granted, I did predict it somewhat, but I certainly wasn’t expecting you to leave my emotions hanging like that! Well done! πŸ˜€ )

    I’m currently on Shadow in the Deep, and while I probably won’t be reading any more Christian Fantasy for a while (it gets old), I’m glad that I got to read Binding of the Blade.

    Also, I wanted to say that I enjoyed the way you had just one main character in Beyond the Summerland (even if he did die, lol). I find it somewhat annoying when the story switches back and forth between like…5 different people every chapter. (An excellent plot, such as yours, normally makes up for that though.)

    Keep up the good work,

    I should have just sent you an email, or whatever, but I got quite mad hearing that people were giving angry feedback about BtS.

    If there’s one thing I dislike, it’s predictability. (Granted, I did predict it somewhat, but I certainly wasn’t expecting you to leave my emotions hanging like that! Well done! πŸ˜€ )

  • Richard – I’m glad you weren’t dissuaded from forging ahead because of Joraiem’s death, and that you’ve been enjoying the series. “All My Holy Mountain” is my favorite book, so I certainly hope you’ll keep going all the way to the end.

  • Have long ago finished series(twice)and understand the need for it. The story is the author’s to tell, and he/she has the right to use the plot in whatever way they see fit to do it. I, like others, didn’t like it at first, but as the story went on, I understood. I remember having foreboding feelings about the whole thing during the first book. Often times, in real life there are no happy endings in this broken world, so it did not catch me entirely off guard. As I read on, I understood that this whole series of events and those that follow are a great picture of the effects of sin and how it wrecks things. How about the destructive effect of seeking vengeance at all cost, for example? There are so many subtleties here. Even as I read on about Rulalin, I saw some of his inner struggles and was able to identify in some way with him, seeing bits of him in myself. I see his redemption as another central theme in the story. As another stated, I don’t like predictability.

    I hope seriously that you can get more of your stuff published. We need more of this type of literature from a Christian perspective.

  • First of all thanks for writing the series.
    BTW from a writers stand point great foreshadowing but, why write the first book if the rest is set in the future??
    is it for more foreshadowing??
    Thanks for the great series

  • When I started the first book I was immediately immersed in the world of Kirthanin. I had seen the signs such as the uneasiness he felt with water. I thought this was explained when the creature in the cave was found. I thought that was the explanation to his uneasiness and that it was possible that his vision of him dying on the beach was from a battle with this creature. I was so proud of myself for figuring it out. Then Rulalin kills Joraiem. I was shocked but honestly even without it being essential I think it was a very smart move. Killing Joraiem was one of the biggest reasons I read the next book. It added suspense to see what would happen and who would rise up as the chosen prophet. Your choice not only let you tell the story but it made me want to read it.

  • I thought that for those who had come to ‘love’ Joraiem, that in addition to shock or grief, there would be what you have described, a sense of ‘needing to see what happened now’ that would serve as a hook for the next book. I’m glad this was indeed the case for you.

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