The Max Ransome Chronicles, 1
by Jack W. Regan
From Jack W. Regan's website:
Young Max Ransome watched his father die, killed by marauding phantors as they swept through T'Aragam at the bidding of the evil wizard Zadok. Barely escaping with his own life, Max is thrust into a whirlwind journey as he races against time to save T'Aragam, the world he loves, from a dark dominion. Can Max overcome the horror of his father's death and save T'Aragam from the grasping talons of its enemies?
Woven with a charming mix of zany humor and genuine danger, T'Aragam immerses the reader in a world of original characters and tightly-woven plot. Young Max leads the cast and is ably supported by, among others, a faithful medgekin friend named Gramkin, two monster brothers named Doom and Gloom, and an equuraptor named Dresden.
Coupled with quirky supporting characters, such as mercenary Captain Baggywrinkle, Lord Stench, and a perpetually hungry sea serpent named Bob, this cast of characters steps from the pages and pulls the reader into the story.
I've been really interested to read this book since I first saw it on Goodreads. I was not disappointed when I received a copy and started to dig into the book. The world Jack creates is a definite fantasy, full of evil villains, monsters both humorous and deadly, and a hero that is still unsure of himself at the age of thirteen.
Max Ransome is not your typical hero - he doesn't have inhuman strength, terrible cunning, or the training to really be one. But, with some good luck, a want to keep living, and the need to defend the land from evil, Max steps up to the plate and manages to keep himself alive and the wizard Zadok from taking over.
I loved the diversity in characters and the invention of some newer types of creatures. My favorite was the medgekin Gramkin - who would often use the names of cheese as curses or exclamations. The phantors were both spooky and basically evil, which gave a foreboding tone to some of the scenes with them involved.
Overall, the plot kept you reading, the characters made you laugh, and the setting gave your mind something to imagine.
This book will inspire middle grade readers to pick up more fantasy books and may eventually lead them to heftier readings - such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy.