by Adam Blade
illustrated by Ezra Tucker
#1: Ferno the Fire Dragon
#2: Sepron the Sea Serpent
#3: Cypher the Mountain Giant
#4: Tagus the Night Horse
#5: Tartok the Ice Beast
#6: Epos the Winged Flame
Long has Avantia stood a peaceful kingdom, but now the evil sorcerer Malvel has returned to wreak havoc. He has enchanted the six great Beasts that once protected the land. Each of them now turn to attack the people they once guarded, causing fiery cataclysms, terrible rockfalls, deadly tsunamis, and more.
The scripts say that an unlikely hero will rise.
All his life, Tom has wondered what happened to his father. Shortly after he was born, Tom’s father went on a quest… and never returned. Now, the village needs someone to go to the king and report the terrible fires that have wiped out their entire crop for the year. Tom is eager to prove himself!
That simple trip becomes an epic quest, as Tom is sent to free the beasts from Malvel’s evil influence. Along the way, Tom learns lessons of courage and trust. He gains unlikely allies and friends, as one by one he frees the Beasts. But every challenge is more difficult, and Malvel will not allow himself to be defeated so easily.
I love me a good fantasy story, and I want to share that joy with my eldest son. I’ve been poking around for a good fantasy series he can enjoy. At the moment he’s six, which is far too young for Lord of the Rings or most of the classic fantasies. He loves Wizard of Oz (he’s devoured five of those books now!), but it was time to hit something a little more serious.
These books fit the bill. He loves them and is clamoring for more. It’s a good thing there’s a second, third, and now a fourth six-book cycle in the series!
The stories are a bit formulaic; every book opens with a local child being put in danger by the Beast, then Tom comes, faces a moral quandary of one kind or another, struggles with the Beast, rescues the previously-imperiled child, and comes out the winner. However, that formulaic nature greatly appealed to my son. In fact, he loved them so much that we read more than one in a one-night sitting!
I enjoyed these books much more than some others I’ve read with my kids. (For instance, I’m not a fan of the Magic Puppy series that my daughter adores.) They are basic fantasy obviously aimed at young school-age boys, and for what they are, they work marvelously. Anyone who’s read any amount of fantasy will probably groan at some of the uses of basic fantasy building blocks, but hey, everyone’s got to start somewhere, and this is a good place to start.
One of my biggest complaints actually has nothing to do with the story itself. At least in the editions we got from the library, there was no order of the books printed until book #6. We struggled to figure out what order to read them all in – we ended up reading #4, #3, and then figured out the rest of the cycle and did the rest in order. Other than books one and six, the order didn’t matter that much, but I’m pretty OCD about that.
Anyway, if you’ve got a young child that you want to introduce to fantasy and they’re not yet up to something more “standard,” give these a try. They’re fun, and if my boy is any indication, your kids will love them, too!