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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family Thriving Family, a marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the "Beast Quest" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Young Tom, a blacksmith's apprentice in the kingdom of Avantia, dreams of being a noble knight. He lives with his Uncle Henry and Aunt Maria after his mother died and his father, Taladon the Swift, disappeared on a mysterious quest.

Some of his neighbors believe an evil spirit has cursed their town when their crops are burned and horses disappear. Tom volunteers to go to the king for aid, but he is told that he is too young. Instead, Uncle Henry decides he will go. But when another field is destroyed by fire, the townspeople beg Henry to stay to keep order. Tom is allowed take their plea to the king.

Along the path to the castle, Tom sees that trouble has come to more than just his village. People talk of tidal waves and blizzards destroying their homes. Some fear that legendary beasts have caused this destruction. Tom has heard the stories of the beasts, but they supposedly helped protect the kingdom. He never believed they really existed.

Tom sneaks into the castle rather than wait in line to talk to the king's clerk about the mysterious trouble in his town. He pretends to be a servant and makes his way to the royal dining hall. There he hears the nobles discussing the curse of an evil wizard named Malvel. Malvel set out on a quest years ago to find a magical key to happiness but became consumed with the power magic gave him. Now forbidden magic controls him. He has turned the beasts that are supposed to guard the kingdom into his servants. They must be stopped, one at a time. The king wonders whom he can send on the quest. Ferno, the dragon, has already killed the king's bravest knight.

Aduro, the king's wizard, recognizes Tom, the servant, as Taladon's son. When Tom volunteers to hunt the dragon, Aduro convinces the king to give the boy a chance. The wizard gives Tom a key to unlock the charmed collar the dragon wears that keeps him bound to Malvel. Aduro also gives Tom a sword, a shield and a magical map.

Tom begins his quest alone but soon saves a girl from soldiers who thought she was poaching deer on their lord's estate. Elenna often hunts the land with her tamed wolf, Silver, but they only take rabbits. Tom heeds Aduro's advice to look for help in strange places and invites Elenna to join him on his journey. The two use the magical map to find Ferno.

Elenna and Tom battle bravely against the beast. Tom's plain wooden shield repels the dragon's fiery breath. Tom climbs the dragon to try and use Aduro's magical key to unlock its collar, but the key drops when the dragon flails. Elenna catches the key and loops it on an arrow she shoots back to Tom. He unlocks the collar, and the curse on Ferno is lifted. The dragon removes the dam from the river so the people can have water. He flies away to hide until the people of the kingdom need his help.

Tom and Elenna open Aduro's map to see if it gives them a clue as to what they should do next. The wizard's ghostly shape appears and tells Tom to take one of Ferno's scales that had fallen off and put it on his shield. The scale fuses onto the wood. Aduro tells Tom that this will help to deflect all kinds of heat. Tom and Elenna agree to work together to free another beast from Malvel's curse. Aduro will tell their families where they are and ease their worries.

The map shows their next quest is to free a sea serpent. Tom sees himself being eaten by the beast in a vision. He shakes off the vision and assures Elenna that the two of them together are strong enough to best any foe.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

The kingdom of Avantia is a place of wizards and magic. The six beasts used to guard the kingdom have been forced by black magic to inflict harm on its people.

Authority Roles

Tom's father, Taladon the Swift, left on a quest after Tom's mother died. Tom's Uncle Henry and Aunt Maria have raised him. Henry is respected in their community. It is his leadership that makes the villagers demand he not go to the king. The king and Aduro are seen as truly caring for the welfare of Avantia. Both see inner strength in Tom and agree to let him go on the quest to free the beasts.


The story opens with Sir Caldor the brave, a knight, battling the dragon Ferno. It is told in vivid, but not graphic detail, as are all the battles in the story.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Lying: Tom lies to get into the castle.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 10


Adam Blade






Record Label



Scholastic Inc.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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