April 28, 2014

[Book Review] Kaymon the Gorgon Hound (Beast Quest, #16) by Adam Blade



As the Quest to free all six good Beasts of Avantia from the Dark Realm continues, the evil Malvel uses all of his powers to stop Tom's progress.

But our hero is relentless on his mission to save Tartok the Ice Beast. Even when faced with Kaymon the Gorgon Hound. Kaymon prowls the ruins of a forgotten castle and has a dangerous hidden ability. This will be Tom's toughest battle yet!



So... Beast Quest. I've read sixteen so far, and I am definitely only reading two more. This series went from adequate but unimpressive to flat-out ridiculous fairly quickly, and by this point, I'm not seeing any redeeming qualities. The series has too many issues, including the following in Kaymon the Gorgon Hound:

First, Kaymon the Gorgon Hound contains another discrepancy, this time between the text and the interior illustrations. (Last time, it was between the back-cover blurb and the text of Spiros the Ghost Phoenix.) 

A "gorgon hound", apparently, is a massive, dog-like creature that is able to self-replicate itself; it produces two duplicates in the book. However, the illustrations are of a Cerberus, or a three-headed dog. When I saw this, I had to double-check to make sure I wasn't losing it; page 18 of ISBN-13 9780545200349 clearly states that Kaymon has three "bodies", not one body and three heads. 

Somehow, this book managed to get to publication with an interior illustration that directly contracted the text. How in the fuck?

Second, Elenna is a horrible female character. The other characters and the tone of the novel act as if she's an action girl, but the only thing she ever manages to do is get herself kidnapped, knocked out, injured, poisoned, etcetera--and it seems to happen earlier and earlier in each book. Every now and then she shoots an arrow or something, but it hardly ever does anything significant, and she certainly never gets to defeat the Beast herself.

Perhaps most infuriatingly, there is zero moral ambiguity. If you are on Tom's side, you are "good". If you are against Tom, you are "evil". And let me tell you, this series loves throwing around the word "evil". This is evil, that's evil, even Kaymon's howl just sounds evil, somehow. Things that kill, such as Kaymon the ambiguously enslaved Beast of Gorgonia, are definitely evil, according to Tom, which I suppose means he survives on air and bacteria-free water alone. Or, you know... maybe Tom's just calling anyone and everything that opposes him "evil". The Dark Realm and Kaymon specifically have brought a hint that perhaps there's going to be some moral ambiguity in future books, but I'm certainly not sticking around for possibilities at this point.

The Dark Realm introduces Gorgonia and its rebels, while Kaymon introduces a mystery regarding the actual fate of Tom's father. The rebels are hinted to be by a supporting character to be a grey faction, though there's zero evidence to support this so far; Tom's father, on the other hand... well, Tom doesn't know what the heck his father was doing in Gorgonia, so it's possible there could be something interesting there... but likely not.

By the end of this, I still just have to say that I can't wait to be done with this series. I have some unanswered questions, but not the kind that I expect to be answered. How exactly does Tom know the sex of all these Beasts? Why is Malvel such a self-defeating villain? Where exactly are all these Beasts coming from; Malvel created the Golden Armor Beasts, but what about the rest?

But, honestly, I just don't care. Kaymon ends with Tom getting a diamond from Kaymon's collar that gives his shadow a life of its own, and an injured Silver is sent back to Avantia with Tartok; both of these things could be potentially interesting, but since this is Beast Quest, I know they won't be.

I'm really looking forward to rereading Deltora Quest after finishing this nonsense. That's what chapter book fantasy is supposed to be like!



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