Tom is forced to follow Malvel's latest evil Beast into the dreaded forests of the Dark Realm. Tusk the Mighty Mammoth is a massive Beast with a monstrously powerful trunk and two razor-sharp tusks.
But when Elenna is injured on the Quest, Tom is forced to make a choice. Can he save his companion and the good Beast, Ferno the Fire Dragon, from Tusk's path of destruction.
Two more. There are two more Beast Quests to go before I'm finally done with this series, and I cannot wait. I seriously doubt I will ever have any interest in reading past The Dark Realm, and my reviews of these twenty Beast Quest books have become long lists of complaints now; and trust me, I don't enjoy rehashing the same complaints over and over again... so I'll do it one last time. (My review of the final The Dark Realm book, thankfully, will have a new slew of complaints to bemoan.)
I suppose my biggest complaint is not that the writing isn't interesting. I can deal with repetitive and formulaic. Hell, some of my favorite childhood books--the A to Z Mysteries and The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series, for example--were both rather formulaic, with the same type of story happening in each book.
No, what kills me about Beast Quest is that while the plots are repetitive and oftentimes outright ignorant, the characters are bland and idiotic. The heroes are pathetic, and so are the villains.
On the side of the heroes, we have the main two, Tom and Elenna, and the supporting heroes, including Aduro the wizard and the six guardian Beasts of Avantia. Aduro, as the wannabe Dumbledore or Gandalf of the group, is absolutely useless. The only thing he's really managed to do so far in these three series is get himself captured by Malvel. He's utterly useless.
On the other end of the spectrum is Tom, who's literally the only person in Avantia who is capable of doing anything. Except, of course, he's a terrible Gary Stu and a pretty huge idiot on top of that. For one thing, he gains power-ups at the end of each book... but promptly forgets about them after acquiring them, and these are generally not useful except in extremely contrived circumstances. I mean, you'd think things like "inhuman strength" would come in useful, but Tom never actually demonstrates any after supposedly gaining that power. By this point, he has six Beast tokens/gifts, a suit of magical armor that he doesn't actually have to wear to benefit from, and four magical gems--all of which have given special powers that he very rarely (maybe once or twice in a six-book series) uses. In this book, he gets a hunk of amber from Tusk that makes him a better fighter, whatever that means. Instead of using these power-ups, however, he uses the magical powers of insane luck and Invincible Hero Syndrome.
Elenna, his supposed human partner, is not so much a partner as a cheerleader. Elenna is what you get when you mix Tea Gardener with Mokuba Kaiba. She doesn't actually help defeat the Big Bad, but she's really good at getting kidnapped and/or incapacitated. She's just there to be the obligatory female friend, but she's always praised for her contributions to the quest. In Tusk the Mighty Mammoth, she gets to play doctor with the womenfolk while Tom goes off the save the day. She's an A+ action girl, alright.
Then there's the Beasts. They're six huge, terrifying monsters tasked with protecting Avantia from the forces that seek to harm its citizens... but they don't actually do much. In Beast Quest, they were all enslaved by Malvel and forced to attack their own people. In The Golden Armor, they managed to be a bit helpful by teaming up with Tom to destroy Malvel's magically created Beasts. In The Dark Realm, they're quickly kidnapped and imprisoned by Malvel, making Tom enter Gorgonia to rescue them. In other words, they're super great at their jobs.
And then there are the minor characters of The Dark Realm, the Gorgonian rebels. After hints throughout the series that these people might not be the "good guys" that Tom thinks they are--Kerlo, the gatekeeper to Gorgonia, again tries to convince Tom of this in Tusk the Mighty Mammoth--they up and leave Gorgonia entirely in this installment. And, uh... great rebellion, guys. I seriously hope there is more than meets the eye to you people, because rebels who ditch their country at the first opportunity are kind of... well, not really rebels at that point.
And on the other hand, we have the villains, who are also pathetic. So far, there is one major villain and one minor villain--Malvel the wizard and his servant Seth, respectively. Seth is recurring character who doesn't actually do much; mostly, he shows up and interferes with Tom's inevitably successful attempts to defeat and/or save the book's Beast(s). Even when he is briefly victorious (as in Vedra and Krimon), he is defeated by the end of the book. Kind of sad.
Then there's Malvel. He's been Tom's archnemesis from the beginning, and I don't know what the hell is up with him. He doesn't seem to have an actual motive, and his actions so far seem to exist purely to give Tom something to do. He's the kind of two-dimensional villain who does things because "he's evil". He's the kind of two-dimensional villain who has nothing better to do than play with Tom. It's absolutely ridiculous.
But I'm almost done. I'm almost done with this, and I can't wait for it. I don't care at this point; I'm not waiting around for improvement, because at this point I don't expect to see any. So I'm checking out after one more book.
I cannot wait.