A World Without Heroes is the first book of the Beyonders series, written by Brandon Mull. A World Without Heroes contains 454 pages.
"Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable- until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason transporting form the hippo tank into a strange imperiled world.
Lyrian is full of dangers and challenges unlike any place Jason has ever known. The people live in fear of their malicious wizard emperor, Maldor. The brave resistors who once opposed Maldor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.
In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes."
While working at the zoo one day, thirteen-year-old Jason Walker falls into the hippo tank and is swallowed whole by the hippo. To his surprise, Jason emerges out of a tree on a Lyrian riverbank and manages to save the life of Tark. Shortly afterward, he finds his way to the Repository of Learning, goes into the forbidden room and finds the book of Salzared, “bound in his skin and written in his blood." In the book, Salzared tells the reader about the Word that can destroy Maldor, saying that “the first syllable is a.” The loremaster, telling Jason that his knowledge now makes him wanted by Maldor, sends him to the Blind King, where Jason meets Rachel, another Beyonder.
They set out in search of a sea cave housing a syllable of the word. Upon arriving, Jason meets Jugard, a syllable guardian who tests his patience by not saying a word. Jason continues to ask him about the word, and eventually, Jugard informs him that he passed the test. He rewards him by telling him the fourth syllable of word, en. Rachel then arrives behind them informing Jason that they were being chased by a boarhound and possibly other enemies. Jugard guides them to an exit, where they have to face a titan crab. They come up with a plan to send the boarhound in with them and injure it, to lure the crab to attack the hound instead of Jason and Rachel. The plan proves successful and they escape with only minor injuries.
The group sets off for Trensicourt in search of Nicholas Dangler. Along the way, they encounter Tark at the Tavern-go-round, and Ned at an inn. After blackmailing Jason for information, Ned helps them evade capture. Along the road to Trensicourt, they encounter Ferrin, a displacer who has been decapitated and had his body buried apart from his head, which was tied in a sack. Jason and Rachel decide to help him, and he helps them arrive at Trensicourt, where they meet Nicholas Dangler. He tells them how and where to find the third and fifth syllables of the word. Jason challenges Chancellor Copernum for the Chancellorship in order to access the third syllable of the word, which was written in the lorevault, a vault only the duke and the chancellor could access. After winning the title, he finds the syllable, fex, and sets out for Whitelake.
Jason and Rachel meet up with Ferrin again, and they head for Whitelake. Once they arrive, the find the lake radiating heat and sucking objects downward unless the objects are moving at high speeds. With this info, Rachel crosses the lake, running so she doesn't sink, to reach an island in the center. She passes out on the island due to the heat, but recovers quickly and finds Malar, a displacer reduced to a head and an arm, who tells her the fifth syllable of the word, dra. He also informs her that all displacers work for Maldor, and with the info, Rachel and Jason confront Ferrin. He admits that he was spying on them for Maldor, but also explains that he did genuinely consider them as his friends. He departs, and the two are once again on their own. This does not last long.
Eventually, they encounter a member of the Amar Kabal, Jasher, who saves them from constriptors and manglers. He helps them navigate the Sunken Lands and find Corinne, who was guarding the sixth syllable of the word, puse. Jason enters her tree but loses his memory temporarily due to the puffballs inside. Corinne guesses his purpose, and tells him the syllable. After returning from the tree, Jason, Rachel and Jasher decide to stay there for the night before leaving the Sunken Lands so Jason could accept his invitation to Harthenham.
Jason arrives at Harthenham, in search of Kimp, a man who had the second syllable, and the last syllable Jason needed, tattooed on his shoulder. Jason spends a few days there, where he meets Drake, another member of the Amar Kabal, wasting his lives eating pie. He also encounters Tark, who had given up fighting Maldor to accept an invitation to Harthenham. He convinces both of them to leave, after finding the syllable, rim, and then challenges Duke Conrad to a duel using billiard balls. Jason wins, knocking out Conrad, but sparing his life. He escapes Harthenham with the syllable along with Drake, Tark and Tristan, who joined him in his escape. Almost immediately, they are attacked, and Tristan dies defending them.
After meeting up with Jasher and Rachel, an orantium explosion kills Jasher and a bunch of pursuers. Rachel and Tark collect Jasher's seed and escape into the woods, while Jason and Drake set out for Felrook, with Jason now equipped with the full word. Jason rings a gong, an action recognized as a request to meet with Maldor. Jason uses the Word on Maldor, only to have it fail. Maldor informs him that the Word is a fraud, meant to distract his enemies. After undergoing torture for some time, Jason escapes with the help of Ferrin, who takes him to a secret portal in the form of a pond back to the Beyond. Jason attempts to resist, and even drags Ferrin through with him. But the displacer simply disconnects the arm Jason grabbed and swam back up to the surface. Jason returns home with only one thing in mind. Getting back to Lyrian.