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Saturday, May 29, 2010

"Monster Slayers" by Lukas Ritter (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

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The companion game for Monster Slayers Here
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Introduction: Monster Slayers is a companion novel to A Practical Guide to Monsters, which was a New York Times Bestseller. When I heard that there was a companion novel to the widely popular Practical Guide books by Mirrorstone, I was interested to see how it would work out. What was produced was an amazing, action packed children's story. Lukus Ritter is the pen name for Jeff Sampson.

Overview: Evin has always dreamed of being a hero. He practices with his sword and has imaginary quests in which he in the end is the hero. One day while he and his friend, Jorick are out, the village is burn to the ground and the villagers are kidnapped by a gang of dog monsters. It is up to Evin and Jorick to find where the villagers have been taken and try and free all the villagers.

While hunting for clues, the two young boys are sent to a wizards tower in hopes of finding an ancient wizard who can help guide them and teach them what they need to know about monsters. Instead, Evin and Jorick meet a young elf wizard named Betilivatis. Betilvatis has studied the ancient book, A Practical Guide to Monsters, and is willing to help the two find the villagers and defeat the monsters that have attacked their town.

The three adventurers track through a world filled with various monsters in order to try and find the villagers. It quickly appears to Evin that not everything is as it seems. Can Betilvatis be trusted? Why does it appear that the only think Evin does remember is the kidnapping and the villagers and nothing before that? Something bigger is going on in the world that Evin knows.

Format: Monster Slayers is a children's fantasy/adventure novel. It is a companion novel to the A Practical Guide To Monsters, but that does not have to be read or even looked at to enjoy the story. It stands at 256 pages. It was published by Mirrorstone on May 11, 2010.

Analysis: Monster Slayers has everything that a children's novel could want. It's packed with lots of quick action sequences, and interesting monsters that will attract younger readers. It's always great to find children's books that encourage children to read, especially boys, and Monster Slayers, is that book.

The characters involved in Monster Slayers are those that will appeal to younger readers. The personalities behind the characters aren't overly complex, the bad guys are pretty bad, and the heroes are heroes. There is the typical hot headed side kick, and the helpful wise elf. Throughout the novel the characters grow enough to engage the younger readers, but adults will quickly find that the characters are bit predictable in actions and dialogue. Though to children I don't think they'd even notice this aspect.

The pace of the book is fairly quick. The chapters are really short and easy to manage for children. It wouldn't be overwhelming or too long for a child. This novel is just the right length.

There is a bit of a plot twist that happened about 3/4th of the way through the book. It was a unique twist for a children's story, and I don't believe even the adults would have guessed what would have happened.

Monster Slayers is very much a children's book. Those that can appreciate a good children's story will enjoy this, but it is clearly intended for a younger audience. However, for the audience that it is intended for this is an amazing book. There are sword fighting action, and monster appearances that will attract any fantasy reader. It's really an amazing way to introduce children to fantasy books. This book is very similar to the style of the Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance books only for an audience of 8-10 year olds. I can easily see these books sparking interest in those book in later years, and can be used as a stepping stone to those books in later years.

Overall, I enjoyed Monster Slayers when looking at it for what it is intended, a children's fantasy/action adventure novel. Those looking for a fun novel for children will enjoy reading along with the kids.

NOTE: There is a very fun companion game to this novel (Found Here), which I tried out. It promotes math skills, writing and team work. It's a very similar game to Dungeon and Dragons only it isn't as complex and can be really really fun! I really believe this is an amazing way to get kids involved with a game that many fantasy fans at one point loved (or still love) to play! The companion game is free to download and just requires a printer and scissors. I really enjoy where Wizards of the Coast for Young Readers is taking this. It inspires reading, and the game is educational in a very fun way.


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