'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Review: Beast Quest - The First Series

The magnificent land of Avantia is under threat. The evil wizard Malvel has cast spells on the great protective beasts of the land, including Ferno the Fire Dragon who watches over Southern Avantia, and ensures an adequate water supply for its people.
With floods, avalanches and chaos all over the land, King Hugo and the great Wizard Aduro are desperate for help – who can free the great beast from their evil curse and save the land of Avantia?

Enter Tom.

A young village boy, Tom’s father left him with his aunt and uncle, just after his mother died, and he has never seen nor heard from his father since. An adventurous, brave young lad, Tom is horrified to hear from the villagers that Avantia is in trouble, and he wants to help. But even the great Knight Caldor the Brave has failed to free the Ferno the Dragon from Malvel’s curse – what could a young boy possibly do?

Tom makes his way to see King Hugo, who initially dismisses the young lad – until he discovers this is no ordinary boy – Tom is the son of Taladon the Swift – one of the bravest men in the land.

Aduro watches over the young Tom as he is tasked with the seemingly insurmountable quest of releasing Ferno from his magical bond. Can he do it? As he sets out on his voyage, he meets a young girl, Elenna – and together this dynamic duo set out for the mountains.

Adam Blade has set his Beast Quest series in a highly imaginative and fascinating land, reminiscent of the great literary lands of our time – Narnia and Mordor, to name two. Including the village of Errinel, the walled city and castle, the grassy plains, the Forest of Fear, Western Ocean, Icy Plains and Northern Mountains, this land is the ideal setting for the first series of Beast Quest, and its troubled protective beasts.

The six books in Series One follow Tom’s quest to save Avantia but they also focus on relationships between the characters, and most particularly on Tom’s missing father. Can this young boy find out the truth – why did his father leave him? Will he finally meet him once again? Who is the hooded figure that appears at the end of Book 6?

Blade writes with finesse – his stories are carefully plotted and pack plenty of action, without resorting to violence. His use of short sentences and evocative description are sophisticated, but not out of reach for younger readers, and his characters are well-fleshed and likable. The books are well-paced and dynamic – relying on mystery and suspense to hook the reader into the next exciting installment.

The typeface is large, meaning younger readers can feel less overwhelmed by the scope of these stories. The author achieves a fine balance – despite being packed with detail, Blade has a knack for keeping things simple and easy to follow, allowing younger readers to enjoy a sophisticated series and older, struggling readers to keep pace with a cool adventure, in a genre usually reserved for teens.

Impactful and stylish illustrations round out a beautifully-marketed Series One (complete with collector cards!). There are 30 books over Five Series in Beast Quest, making this a thrilling ride for young kids, and Blade – an incredibly prolific writer – has also released bumper editions, handbooks and companion books, including The World of Chaos books and The Lost World, all featuring our heroes.

I would love to take a trip in Adam Bland’s head, but for now, enjoying this amazing series of books gives me a tantalizing glimpse at the treasure inside. It’s easy to see how boys (and girls, too) can become hooked on the Beast Quest series, and I’m already booking my tickets for the movie. Or the TV show. Whichever comes first.

Also in this series:

Book 2 - Sepron the Sea Serpent
Book 3 - Arcta the Mountain Giant
Book 4 - Tagus the Horse-Man
Book 5 - Nanook the Snow Monster
Book 6 - Epos the Flame Bird

Blade is soon releasing the brand new Chronicles of Avantia, for older readers. Keep an eye on the website for more. chroniclesofavantia.com

Title: Beast Quest: Ferno the Fire DragonAuthor: Adam Blade
Publisher: Orchard Books, A$14.99RRP
Format: Soft cover
ISBN: 9781846164835
For ages: 6-12
Type: Junior Fiction