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Book Review

This fantasy written by Adam Blade is the fifth in the " Beast Quest" series and is published by Scholastic Inc.

Tartok the Ice Beast is written for kids ages 8 to 10. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Tom, the young blacksmith's apprentice, and his friend Elenna continue on their quest to free the beasts that are supposed to protect the kingdom of Avantia from evil. Having already freed four of the beasts from the dark wizard Malvel's magic spell, the two are now in search of Tartok, a beast that lives on the ice plains. Armed with a magic map and shield, given to him by Aduro, King Hugo's good wizard, they come to the ice plains only to be caught in a terrible blizzard. When the storm finally ends, they find they are close to a nomad camp. The people there harvest the seaweed that grows under the ice. It has medicinal properties that are needed throughout the kingdom. Brendan, the nomad clan's chief, offers the children shelter and food until they are rested enough to continue on their quest.

That night Tartok attacks the camp by cracking the top of a nearby mountain and sending shards of ice down on the nomads. Although no one is injured, the ice plain now has a deep crack running through the center of the camp. Brendan decides to go to another camp on safer ground to seek help. He asks Tom to accompany him. After a morning of learning how to drive a sleigh, Tom and Brendan set off across the ice. Because of the danger of the ice cracking, they must travel separately to distribute their weight. As Tom scans the landscape, looking for signs of Tartok, he notices another sleigh following them. It is Albin, Brendan's young son. Tom calls to Brendan, but the chief is too far ahead to hear him. To Tom's terror, the ice cracks beneath Albin's sleigh, plunging the boy into the frigid waters. Tom and his horse, Storm, race to the rescue. Tom must break the ice with his sword in order to free the boy beneath. Grabbing Albin, he tries to pull him out of the water but soon finds himself shivering uncontrollably. Brendan arrives in time to pull both boys to safety.

Heading back to his sleigh, Tom hears a rhythmic pounding and realizes Tartok is nearby. Elenna and several other members of the camp arrive in search of Albin. As the pounding continues, it breaks the ice plain, separating Tom and Elenna from the others. Brendan gives the children directions to the neighboring camp while he and the others return to their home.

Elenna's horse panics when it senses Tartok, and it races away with Elenna still on its back. They disappear behind a snow bank. When Tom catches up to Elenna, she has been thrown from the horse and lies unconscious on the ground. Tartok, a massive beast, stands over her. The moment Elenna wakes up, Tom passes her his magic shield, and it protects her from a swipe of Tartok's yellow claws. The beast throws the shield away, narrowly missing Tom's head. As the beast and the children battle, the ice cracks, sending Tartok into the frigid water. Elenna tries to distract the beast as it struggles to get out of the water while Tom uses the last of his strength to unlock Malvel's chain.

Once free, Tartok slips again beneath the ice only to resurface near Elenna, which causes her to fall into the water. The beast rescues Elenna and places her gently on the ice. Tartok acknowledges Tom before loping off into the distance. Tom gives Elenna his coat but knows she will die of exposure if he can't find help. Riding his shield as a snowboard, Tom slides down an ice bank to catch up with a band of nomads traveling across the ice plain. They are from the neighboring camp Brendan had been going to for help. They bundle up Elenna and return her to Brendan's camp. The two tribes agree to join together to help their people survive the harsh environment.

After Elenna recovers, Aduro appears and congratulates the children on their continued success but warns them that their most difficult challenge awaits — to free Epos, the winged flame. The good wizard shows Tom the claw Tartok left behind. It is absorbed into Tom's shield. It will protect him from extreme cold. The friends agree to rest awhile in the nomads' camp before they head off on their next quest.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

The citizens of Avantia used to be protected by magical beasts before an evil wizard placed the beasts under an enchantment. Now they are forced to do his evil bidding. Aduro, another wizard, uses his magic to help the kingdom. Elements of each freed beast are absorbed into Tom's shield. It protects him and Elenna from many things.

Authority Roles

Brendan questions why the children are travelling on the ice plains, but he doesn't insist on answers because these nomads respect a person's silence. He also asks Tom to travel with him to the neighboring camp rather than one of the other adults in the tribe. Aduro appears at the end of the quest to congratulate the children and send them on their next journey.


Tartok attacks Albin, cutting the boy with its claws and sending him into the water. Tartok also rains ice down on the village. Tom and Elenna are placed in perilous situations throughout the book, such as getting stuck in a blizzard and battling Tartok. Although suspenseful, the story does not graphically describe the violence.



Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • What is Albin focused on doing?
  • Why didn't he notice that Tartok was near?
  • What safety measures could have helped him?
  • How did being in a strange place hurt or help him?
  • How can knowing what to do in an emergency in a strange place help you when the emergency happens?
  • If you were separated from us [your parents] in a store or at an amusement park, whom would you go to for help?

  • Everyone in the nomad camp must do chores. What are some of the chores that people do in the nomad camp?

  • Why did Tom and Elenna have to help?
  • What are some of the chores in our family?
  • Which ones are yours?
  • Why do we all have to help with the household chores?

  • Why does Brendan want to go to the neighboring village?

  • How might the two camps help each other?

Additional Comments/Notes

Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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