Swords! Dragons! Wizards! I have long loved fantasy adventures, in which the humble hero is called to undertake the quest, rescue the kingdom, and save the world. Little wonder my favoritest* book series of all time is J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic, The Lord of the Rings.
Younger guys who’d like to experience the adventure of a quest without tackling the 1200 pages of Tolkien’s masterpiece will like this Beast Quest series — battle the beasts and save the kingdom, all in under 80 pages.
*Yes, ‘favoritest’ — more favorite than my other favorites.
Ferno the Fire Dragon (Beast Quest series, #1), by Adam Blade (lexile: NA; AR book level: 4.5; 78 pp)
Trouble is brewing in 12-year-old Tom’s village — crops burnt, the river drying up, horses attacked, and no one knows why. So Tom volunteers to go to the king for help. But on arriving at the palace he learns that the whole kingdom of Avantia is in peril. The evil wizard Malvel has enslaved six magical beasts that normally protect the kingdom, forcing them to destroy the land instead. Tom takes on the quest to find and free each of the six beasts from its enchantment. Along the way he’ll get help from many people, including the good wizard Aduro and his friend Elenna and her pet wolf, Silver.
Looking through a lot of reviews, I’ve found a common theme: parents who say these books are not very deep or exciting, and boys who think they’re AWESOME. And that’s a good summation. They’re short, fast-paced, and straight-forward. Each introduces another scary beast that Tom and Elenna must confront. And (with the exception of one minor character) no one dies in the first 8 books (all I’ve read).
Like the Magic Tree House books, Beast Quest is an ongoing series with lots of titles, each the same length, with very predictable (and therefore easier-to-read) plot elements. Each set of 6 books is a quest with a unified theme. There are 54 titles so far, but only the first 24 are usually found in libraries in the U.S. (The rest are available in the U.K., where the series originated.) So far at our library we have:
- Ferno the Fire Dragon
- Sepron the Sea Serpent
- Cypher the Mountain Giant
- Tagus the Night Horse
- Tartok the Ice Beast
- Epos the Winged Flame
- Zepha the Monster Squid
- Claw the Giant Ape