Epos the Winged Flame
This fantasy written by Adam Blade is the sixth in the " Beast Quest" series and is published by Scholastic Inc.
Epos the Winged Flame is written for kids ages 8 to 10. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Tom and his friend Elenna are on their way to free Epos, one of the legendary beasts that guards the kingdom of Avantia. The evil wizard Malvel has enslaved Epos, and this beast must do what Malvel wants. The children have gained confidence during their quests, having already freed five of the beasts that protect their kingdom. Epos, a bird made of fire, has been stirring up the volcano near the village of Stonewin. If the volcano erupts, it could also destroy Avantia's capital and the castle of King Hugo.
Following the magic map given to Tom by Aduro, the kingdom's good wizard, the children draw closer to Epos' lair. But they must take cover under Tom's magical shield when the volcano begins to erupt. The ground shakes. Ash, rocks and smoke threaten to harm the children and their animal friends, Storm, Tom's horse, and Silver, Elenna's tame wolf. Fortunately, the eruption stops before anyone is hurt. Tom and Elenna follow some men to Stonewin to see if the village survived the eruption.
A flow of lava threatens to destroy the houses on the edge of town. Tom uses his shield to help the men dig a trench and divert the lava. A young boy flees from the forest having encountered Epos in the nearby caves. Tom questions the boy about what he's seen and then notices the piece of armor he wears. The boy found it in the caves. Tom recognizes it from its seal as the work of his Uncle Henry, a blacksmith. The armor is also inscribed with the letters T, A, L and A. Tom believes it might have belonged to his father, Taladon, who left on a quest when Tom was a baby, never to return.
Afraid that the next eruption will destroy their town, the villagers agree to follow Tom and his magic map through the caves to the royal city. But Epos blocks the path with boulders. Fortunately, soldiers from the capital dig the trapped people out. One soldier tells Tom that he looks like a young knight named Taladon he knew many years ago. Tom is encouraged to continue his quest, knowing his father was a noble knight.
Elenna and Tom return to the village through the caves. In the caves, Tom finds more of his father's armor. After putting it on, they try to find a way up the volcano, but a sea of lava surrounds it. Tom uses his magic shield as a boat and paddles across the boiling liquid while Elenna uses her arrows to distract Epos and keep him from attacking Tom.
Tom reaches the top of the volcano but not before Epos steals his magic shield. Tom won't give up the fight, even after Malvel appears and tells him it is useless. Before vanishing, the evil wizard baits the boy by telling him that Taladon aided him in his plan to enchant the beasts and ruin the kingdom.
Tom remains determined to finish his quest. He leaps for the chain that binds Epos to Malvel's curse but is unable to cut it. Instead, he loses his sword. The fiery bird attacks again; this time Tom grabs hold of her leg. She carries him over the mouth of the volcano, but Tom lets go before she can smash him against the rocks.
Tom notices cracks in the top of the volcano and hopes that if he can pull enough rocks down to start an avalanche, it could plug up the volcano and save the kingdom. Malvel reappears to watch Epos defeat Tom. The bird lunges and grabs Tom by the chest. As Malvel gloats that Tom is as weak as Taladon, the boy cries out that he still believes in his father. He also finds strength by believing in the righteousness of his quest and in his friends. This inner strength is enough for Tom to crush the enchanted chain with his fist.
Once free of Malvel's curse, Epos grabs the wizard in her claws but he soon disappears into the air. Epos returns to help Tom plug the volcano and save Avantia. She causes the top of the volcano to collapse, but gets trapped inside. Tom fears that she's been destroyed but, because she is a phoenix, she is able to reemerge from the flames. Before flying away she returns Tom's shield and sword to him.
Aduro transports the boy to King Hugo's throne room where he is welcomed as a hero. As a reward, Tom requests information about his father. Taladon had once battled Epos and lost. He made it his mission to learn all he could about the legendary beasts of Avantia. When nightmares began to plague him about terrible things happening to the kingdom, Taladon and Tom's mother agreed he should go on a quest to find out more about the beasts so the kingdom would be protected in the future. Malvel stole Taladon's information and used it to enslave the beasts. Tom's father traveled far away to continue to gain knowledge. No one knows where he lives now. Tom is proud to know he has followed in his father's noble footsteps and believes that he will one day meet him.
Aduro brings Elenna, Storm and Silver into the throne room. A great feast is planned in their honor. Tom wonders if they've seen the last of Malvel. Aduro warns that Malvel is a great sorcerer and may yet cause trouble for Avantia. Tom vows to be ready to fight the evil wizard again if he ever returns.
Other Belief Systems
Six magical beasts guard Avantia until Malvel's black magic enslaves them. Once Tom breaks the enchanted chains that bind them, they return to doing what is good for others and protecting Avantia. Aduro uses his powers to help the kingdom. Aduro explains that Tom was able to break Epos' chain because of the faith he had in himself, his father and his friends. Malvel's evil magic was destroyed by Tom's goodness and loyalty.
Tom and Elenna are often in dangerous situations, such as a volcano erupting and a phoenix attacking them. The writing is suspenseful but not overly graphic in detail.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics :
Why did the people build their village so close to the volcano?
* Would you want to live that close to a volcano? Explain.
Tom is always glad when someone says he looks like his father.
* Which of our qualities [those of your parents] would you like to have as you grow up?
How does Malvel try to discourage Tom from completing his quest?
* How have others tried to discourage you from doing something?
* Did they succeed?
* If not, how were you able to overcome your doubts?
How did Tom's friends help him succeed?
* Could he have succeeded alone? Explain.
* How have your friends helped you succeed in an area
Why was this situation made better because of others being involved?
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Readability Age Range
8 to 10