Sunday, July 02, 2006

Book Review: Grail Quest: The Camelot Spell

Grail Quest: The Camelot Spell is an entertaining, if somewhat formulaic, quest story. During the feast to celebrate the start of the quest for the Holy Grail, all the adults in Camelot are mysteriously put to sleep. Only the teens and children are left awake. Fearing that Camelot will be invaded if Arthur's enemies learn that he and the other knights are asleep, three teens set off on a quest to find Merlin, while the remaining teens remain behind to organize the defense of Camelot. Gerard, as a squire who is almost ready to become a knight, sees himself as the de-facto leader of the expedition, but he has to learn that Newt, a stableboy, and Ailis, a maidservant who hears voices in her head, also have something to contribute to the quest, and the three children have to learn to work together to save Camelot.

My son and I agree that Grail Quest is the kind of book we call a snicky-snack: enjoyable light reading that doesn't have a lot of depth but is entertaining when you don't want to read something more challenging. The characters are likeable and the story moves along pretty well. I like that the children are on their own and have to deal with things without adult assistance; there is some fighting, but they also have to use their brains and teamwork to succeed in the quest. The plot seems a bit contrived; almost as if the whole thing was set up just to give the teens a chance to save Camelot. Even so, it should make great summer reading for preteens who enjoy fantasy.

There is some violence, and one particularly gory scene involving a fight with a troll.

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