Sunday, March 6, 2011

Amos Daragon #1: The Mask Wearer by Bryan Perro

Children’s Book ages 9-12

I’ve never been a big fan of fantasy books or movies. The only one I’m addicted to is The Lord of the Rings, which I’ve read time after time and have seen the movies over and over. I found it amusing that the name of the hero of this book is Daragon and one of the heroes of The Lord of the Rings is Aragorn. Just a coincidence, I’m sure. had selected Amos Daragon as one of its “BEST OF” for the month of Feb. I ordered it for my goddaughter without reading it and then thought, hmmm, maybe before giving a book to a child, I’d better READ IT FIRST! Duh… The setting reminded me, again, of middle earth in The Lord of The Rings. It is chock full of all kinds of creatures and mythology, Seth, the Egyptian god of darkness and evil, fairies, gorgons (think Medusa), and humanimals (think the Island of Dr. Moreau), sorcerers, druids, gods, knights etc. So, on to the story. Read more:
You have a poor peasant boy, aged 12, whose father is held under the thumb of the evil, rich, and dumb lord of the kingdom and whose mother has lost all of the sparkle from her eyes. While out searching for food, Amos finds a remarkable cave and is at first frightened by a deafening screech from within but then is coaxed in by a soothing voice. It turns out to be the Princess of the Waters, a mermaid, and she is dying. She gives Amos a small white stone and her trident and asks him to hurry to the forest of Tarkasis, where he is to give the stone to another mermaid where he will become The Mask Wearer. She doesn’t tell him what that means but, of course, he later finds out. He realizes that his parents are losing their will to live so he cleverly extricates them from the dimwitted lord and they try to find Tarkasis. Along the way, they come upon another kingdom, again ruled by a cruel but clever lord. This lord, however, has a special talisman he wears around his neck that is being sought by an evil sorcerer. And this lord’s lands are being terrorized by gorgons. Remember, Medusa, whenever anyone looked her in the eye, she turned them to stone. So, these gorgons are turning his peasants and knights into stone. As Amos continues on his journey, he gets separated from his parents. He then begins to see that there is much good in the world but also much evil. He sees that they are constantly at odds with one another. And that is the purpose of sending Amos to the forest. He will be asked to re-establish an old cult. It’s a cult that tries to bring into balance good and evil. The mask he will be given will confer on him the ability to control the four elements, earth, fire, air and water. The white stone he has been given is the first of 16. But there are 15 others and he can not gain control of the elements until he has set all 16 stones into the mask. (I’m guessing that is what the other books are about.) The first stone is the element of air and Amos must find a way to use this element and his cleverness to get rid of the gorgons and get rid of that talisman before the evil sorcerer finds it. And, he must wrench the world from the grip of evil and bring balance back to the universe. It’s a tall order for a 12 year old kid. But, hey, it is fantasy.

The book does have some very good messages. Do you have the courage to stand up for your convictions? What does it really mean to be a friend? What is loyalty and what inspires it? What is beauty? Is it really in the eye of the beholder? There are some very good themes entwined throughout this fantasy.

Amos Daragon came out in England and Canada in 2009 and I hear it’s being made into a movie. There’s no profanity, no adult situations only some mild battle scenes. The descriptions of some of the mythical characters might be a little scary for younger kids. I guess that’s why it’s aimed at the 9-12 year old range. I haven’t had the opportunity to ask my goddaughter how she liked the book. But the consensus on the net is the kids really enjoy it. The Mask Wearer is the 1st of three.

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