Title: The Great and Terrible Quest
Author: Margaret Lovett
Major Themes: Adventure Stories, Quests, Knights and Castles, Kings, Mystery
Synopsis: Trad must help an old man complete a quest he can’t quite remember—but with time running out, and evil on the verge of overtaking the kingdom, can they complete the quest in time?
Combining the stories of a mysterious man with a pauper and a plot for the throne might be a bit risky, but Margaret Lovett pulls it off beautifully in The Great and Terrible Quest. Out of all the knights, quests, and king tales I’ve read, this book is by far in my top favorites list.
My grandma read it a couple years ago—and liked it, too—but she said she thought it was a bit juvenile. So this time when I read it, I kept an eye out to see if I would agree with her—after all, it’s been four years since I last read it—but all I could find that might hint at being juvenile was the fact that several things that were “coincidences” might not have been totally true-to-life. When Mom first read this book, she described it like this:
“We got a bit of a late start this morning; I got wrapped up in a book (one of Esther’s readers—The Great and Terrible Quest is quite a gripping story) and didn’t make everyone get out of bed until a little after 8:00. [One of the boys] had gotten up earlier and done two of his subjects, and [the baby] got up—[feeding] him was my excuse to start reading the book again, and then I couldn’t put it down till I finished! I don’t do that very often any more, which is a good thing.” —Journal entry from July 2011, used with permission.
Trad is not your normal ten-year-old boy. His grandfather claims to be a wizard and runs a secret band of robbers. Both of his parents died of a plague when he was four, and when his grandfather “rescued” him, he immediately began working to make Trad into a half-wit. But Trad sees that his grandfather is anything but good, and will do what he must to keep the power for himself, so he does all he can to keep unwary strangers away from the filthy cottage he must call home.
One day, while his grandfather is away, Trad comes across an old man with white hair that believes he is on a quest of some sort, but is distressed that he can’t remember what the quest is about. Trad realizes he badly needs help, but how can he shelter a forgetful man from the rages of his grandfather? If this old man’s words are correct—that he is on a vitally important quest—should Trad try to help him complete it successfully?
The Great and Terrible Quest is a fairy tale for boys, but girls love it as well. From Trad’s unhappy home life, to his escape as he helps an old man try to complete a quest he can’t remember, and ultimately in the fight for good against all evil, this is a thrilling story. My brothers could hardly wait for a new episode each night—and even Dad got in on the story at times, helping out with the dishes so he could hear the next installment! We all heartily enjoyed this book, and I’m sure your family will, too.
WARNING: In the second to last chapter, there is a fight scene where several men are killed. Their deaths are described to some extent; I edited some of the descriptions out when I read it aloud. There are several words used through the narrative I did not appreciate.
Listening Level—8 – 12, 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above