[Book Review] Epos The Winged Flame (Beast Quest, #6) by Adam Blade

One boy's journey to help his village becomes a quest to save the kingdom.

The entire Beast Quest has been leading up to the final battle. Tom is ready to defeat the last of Malvel's Beasts: the Winged Flame, a phoenix living inside a volcano! And though his friends have been there to help him along his Quest, he must ultimately go forward to face the final Beast alone.

But Tom has more to worry about than Epos. As he struggles to free the Beast and defeat the dark wizard Malvel, Tom learns more about his mysterious father--and his own destiny as well.

With Epos the Winged Flame, the Beast Quest series ends... sort of. From here, Beast Quest gets a new subtitle every six books, and the people behind "Adam Blade" have cranked out seventy eight books so far with no signs of stopping. And if the rest of them are anything like the first six, why should they stop?

The first six books of the Beast Quest series have been short, simplistically written, unabashedly cliche, and strictly formulaic. Finishing one of these manuscripts can't possibly take more than a month, and the publishing house can get anyone to ghostwrite as "Adam Blade" without the child fans catching on. For as long as anyone's interested in buying these, they're going to keep pumping 'em out.

Now, let me be clear. These aren't bad books, from what I've read so far. They're just... not good. As far as child-aimed fantasy series go, they're going to entertain a five or six year old; someone that age is still likely still able to find amusement in the tired cliches, the melodramatic scenes, and the repetitive plots that would make the rest of us roll our eyes. It's just that so far, the Beast Quest series seems to determined not to think outside the box. It's the same monsters (dragons, ogres, and serpents, oh my!), the same basic characters (the uber-competent boy child and the girl who always needs to be rescued), and the same plot (find/collect/destroy all the things!) that every other series has rehashed over and over and over (and over and over and over) again.

Meanwhile, Deltora Quest, for instance, is challenging children with riddles, introducing them to a detailed fictional world with unique creatures and locations, and entertaining them with reasonably unique and engaging plots. Against that series, this pales in comparison.

Like I said, I really do want to emphasize that this isn't a terrible series. Sure, it's clearly written to get kids interested in a series that can go one indefinitely with little effort, one that their parents, teachers, and local libraries can just keep buying until the publishing company finally concedes that >80 (or >100 or >200 or whatever) books is getting to be a bit ridiculous. But it's a good way to introduce children to the fantasy genre; it's packed full of the genre's most cliche and basic principles, and it can help any budding fan familiarize him or herself with those until they're ready to move on.

While I'll gladly advise anyone interested in purchasing the Beast Quest series to consider Deltora Quest instead, Beast Quest is a perfectly acceptable first fantasy series for an elementary school child. And I'll gladly continue reading the series (at least until the point at which my local library system stopped purchasing the new releases); hopefully these later six-book installments will cover some more unique territory.

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