Have you read this book?
David Scott Webster’s The Grand Adventure, the first book in his Naxos Island Mages saga, is a young adult fantasy that follows two young brothers on a—you guessed it!–grand adventure. Stephonus and Nikoloas are the aforementioned siblings who, after years of begging their parents to travel with their friend Chara and her family on an annual summer trading journey, finally get their parents’ approval to go.
The trip will undoubtedly be filled with strange new lands and exotic people but what the two boys aren’t prepared for is coming face-to-face with their own mortality. Soon after the journey begins, Stephonus meets a 600-year old vampire who shocks the boy with his undead insight. Not only does the vampire know that the two boys are secretly mages, he knows that they are being hunted by a Dark Mage Judge who will either force their allegiance or kill them. Thus begins a grand adventure that includes invading armies, escaped slaves, battling mages, pet wolves and a strange island inhabited by sentient dragons, unicorns, flying horses and dolphins.
As a young adult story, this book was moderately entertaining. If I was a sixth or seventh grader–roughly the age of the protagonists–I would’ve enjoyed the story and probably searched out the second and third installments. As an adult, however, I found the characters two-dimensional, the plot totally predictable, the thematic content geared to juvenile readers and the climactic ending completely lacking that edge-of-your-seat anticipation that it should have. And like another iUniverse release that I recently reviewed (The Piaculum), a major criticism of this book is the incredible number of typos and grammatical errors. Someone somewhere needs to go back to elementary school and learn how to use the possessive, among other things.
So, in conclusion, I would recommend this book to young fantasy fans (I’ve already given it to my 13-year old niece) but I couldn’t in good conscience recommend this to adult readers.
Paul Goat Allen is the editor of Barnes & Noble’s Explorations science fiction/fantasy book review and is the author of Burning Sticks, Old Winding Way and Warlock Dreams.