Tagus the Night Horse
This book has been reviewed by Thriving Family, a marriage and parenting magazine published by Focus on the Family. It is the fourth book in the "Beast Quest" series.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Aduro, the good wizard from the kingdom of Avantia, has sent young Tom and his friend Elenna on yet another quest. Thy are to go to the plain of Dareton to free Tagus the night horse from a spell placed on him by the evil wizard Malvel. Tagus, a huge beast that is half man and half horse, has been terrorizing the plains, causing cattle to stampede away from their owners and spreading wild fires to ruin their grazing land. As he only comes at night, the people of the plains are unaware Tagus is the criminal.
Tom and Elenna arrive on the plain only to be caught between a stampede and a wild fire. They manage to survive by clinging to Tom's horse, Storm. Tom then cuts down the tall prairie grass with his sword to create a firebreak so the flames won't continue into the town of Dareton. Unfortunately, the townspeople believe Tom has caused the trouble. Their fear has grown since the head guard's son Victor disappeared from a cattle drive the night before. Tom tries to convince the men that he is innocent, but since he won't tell them of his quest, he can't explain his reason for coming to the plain. Elenna escapes with Storm and Silver, her tamed wolf, while Tom is taken to jail.
Using his wits, Tom manages to escape. Elenna arrives with Storm and the two flee from the town. Out on the plain they hear someone's cries for help and come across Victor, the boy missing from the cattle drive. He's been kicked in the head by Tagus, and his leg was broken as he tried to escape stampeding cattle. Tom and Elena bring Victor back to Dareton to get medical help. The townspeople again accuse Tom of being the culprit, but Victor regains consciousness long enough to tell his father about Tagus. Tom is vindicated, and the people apologize for their mistake. Tom and Elenna offer to help with the next cattle drive. Their offer is accepted.
Early the next morning while the cattlemen sleep, Tom spots Tagus across the river. The beast is pawing at the ground, getting ready to attack the cattle. Tom knows that this is the town's largest herd. If it is lost, the people of Dareton will face possible starvation. Tom rides Storm across the river and lassos the beast. The night horse pulls Tom from Storm and drags him across the plain. When Tagus stops running, Tom manages to weave the rope around the beast's legs. Tagus becomes tangled in the rope and can't move.
Tom climbs onto the horseman's back and tries desperately to use the magical key Aduro had given him to unlock the enchanted chain around Tagus' neck. Elenna, Storm and Silver join in the fight. They distract the beast while Tom struggles to set him free. Just before Tagus crosses the river, Tom manages to unlock the chain. It slips to the ground, and Tagus returns to his true self. He bows in thanks to Tom and Elenna before chasing off a cougar that threatens the herd.
Tom finds part of Tagus' horseshoe on the ground and places it on his magic shield. The metal is absorbed into the wood. Aduro appears and congratulates them on their victory. He tells Tom that the horseshoe will help the boy become quicker and more skillful in battle. The wizard gives them their next quest. They are to go back to the mountains and free Tartok, the ice beast. Without returning to Dareton or the cattlemen, the two friends set off on their next mission.
Other Belief Systems
The world of Avantia is one of magic. Aduro is a wizard who uses his magic for good. Malvel uses his to enslave the beasts of Avantia to do evil. The various beasts secretly patrol the land to protect the people when they are not under Malvel's spell.
The book opens with Tagus' brutal attack on cattle that Victor is protecting. Victor is kicked in the head by one of Tagus' hooves and watches helplessly as the night horse spreads the coals of the campfire so that the grass catches fire. Tagus is a menacing beast, and his battles with Tom are violent but not described in graphic detail.
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