Ben Furman: Sams Quest

by Rachel Baker on August 20, 2008

An author will often use a quest as a catalyst for the protagonist to realize something significant about him/herself. The result of a quest almost always combines the satisfactory completion of the journey’s goals and an increased self-awareness for the protagonist.  In adult literature, the quest can be as subtle as driving back to one’s childhood home for a weekend visit with mom.  In young adult literature though, a quest is normally not subtle at all.

The most blatant examples of quests in young adult literature feature a teenager being called into “action” by some otherworldly creatures to save their world.  Quests in young adult literature are, more often than not, metaphors for coming-of-age.  Normally, in the case of YA literature our protagonist will not be completely aware of his/her heritage (Lyra in The Golden Compass), will be caught by surprise by something of importance falling into his/her path (Eragon and the dragon’s egg in Eragon), or will have to deal with some perceived disaster (Dorothy and the tornado in the Wizard of Oz).

Recently, I read a new young adult series about a quest.  Our heroine is Samanatha, and the series is called “Sam’s Quest” by Ben Furman.  Eleven-year-old Sam has debilitating asthma, is small for her age and wears big thick glasses, and looks nothing like a hero.  Her parents are archeologists who search for lost civilations and they are leaving on an exciting expedition. She is sent to spend the summer on her grandpa’s farm.  She’d rather go with her parents, but they feel she’s still too young.  Fortunately for her, this will be the greatest summer of her young life.

In Sam’s Quest for the Crimson Crystal, quite by accident, Sam finds out she comes from a long line of protectors of creatures no one in this world has ever heard of. She has no idea her grandpa’s farm is at the doorway to another world.  Her quest begins with an introduction to a prince no taller than a bug, a magic cloak and a sword for protection.  Her quest ends when she finds the Crimson Crystal and defeats the leader of the Zogs. Our heroine learns about the importance of her heritage and the duty she has by fault of who she is. Sam also realizes she is able to accomplish things far beyond her wildest expectations, even with her asthmatic flaw.

In Sam’s Quest for the Royal Trident (due to come out in October 2008), we find out her newest challenge is she’s now very different than her friends, and she’s not sure how to cope with this new challenge. Sam is learning to deal with a horrific loss and having to give up everything she’s ever known.  Sam is called back into action by the same prince she’s befriended in book one.  In searching for her friend, she outwits an intimidating dragon with a riddle, securing his loyalty to her in the future. Once she finds her friend, she is made aware of the greatest evil force to every come across the World of Bergeron.  She must find the Royal Trident to defeat the evil-doer and save the Awokian people as dictated by her birthright. At the conclusion of her journey Sam realizes she’s found the lost civilization her parents have been searching for.

Each of these books take Sam on an amazing quest of self-discovery.  She learns the difference between how she perceives herself vs how others perceive her.  She learns to deal with adversity and making the best of a situation using her wit and inner strength.  Most importantly, Sam learns she’s capable of overcoming great challenges and she doesn’t have to be a superhero with supernatural powers to pull them off.

Published by Black Hawk Press, Book one in this series, Sam’s Quest for the Crimson Crystal came out in April 2007.  Book two, Sam’s Quest for the Royal Trident, is scheduled to come out in October 2008.  I highly recommend picking up The Crimson Crystal before The Royal Trident comes out in October.  Furman has woven a modern girl into a fantasy world to help her attain an important understanding of the world around her. Sam is an inspirational character for those young readers who are about to take their first steps into the realm of teenage insecurities.

To join in or start a discussion on this book, visit the Old Musty Books book club community.

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