HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Great and Terrible Quest
Author: Margaret Lovett
Illustrator: Joyce Mihran Turley
Publisher: Avyx, republished in 2008
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 10-14
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Lovett, Margaret. The Great and Terrible Quest (originally published in 1967 by Holt Rinehart and Winston; republished in 2008 by Avys Inc., 8032 S. Grant Way, Littleton, CO 80122). It is the late Middle Ages, and ten year old Trad, a quick-witted orphan, lives in a solitary stone hut on a desolate moor with his wicked old grandfather, who pretends to be a wizard but is actually the head of a gang of highway robbers. He also has a three-legged, half-starved dog whom he named Jokey and must keep hidden from his grandfather. One day, Trad finds a wounded, white-haired knight who is on a quest but can’t remember what he is searching for. Risking his life to care for the stranger, the boy learns that the old King is near death and his heir is missing. When he sees that his grandfather is working with one of the evil Lords Regent, who are ruling the land during the King’s illness, to find and kill the heir, Trad runs away to help the knight remember and complete his quest. Just who is this strange man? Exactly what is he supposed to do? And how can Trad assist him?
I first heard of this book back in 2006 when Home School Buzz ran a newspaper article about a twelve year old homeschooled girl in Alabama who suggested to a producer friend of her family that it would make a good movie and then went with the producer to interview the author, Margaret Lovett, in England. Kathy Davis of Home School Buzz read the book and said, “The book is superbly written, and keeps a spirit of hope and perseverance amidst the despairing situations Trad and the knightly stranger face. It has action, mystery, intrigue, riddles, and rich descriptions.” Also, it has a big surprise at the end. There are no fairy-tale magic, although there are fake magicians, and no witchcraft in the book. Also no bad language occurs. It is a beautiful and fascinating story about good and evil, loyalty, friendship, courage, and determination to do right against all odds.
There might be a few parts that could frighten younger or sensitive readers, especially the graphic description of injuries inflicted during combat. Occasionally, trying to determine who is speaking in the dialogue can be a little difficult. And some children may have a hard time following the story line. Aside from these, the only major criticism that I saw was from a reader reviewer who wrote, “I would not recommend it. I perceived an anti-Church bias throughout the book.” I disagree. As another reviewer noted, “Yes, there are bad priests in the book, but there is also the good and kind archbishop. We all know this is reality. There are good and bad people in all walks of life. And, in this particular story, it is a very dark time in the kingdom.” I very much liked the book and would highly recommend it. As far as I could find out, no film was ever made. The author died in 2006.