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*Orphan's Quest (Book One of The Chronicles of Firma)* by Pat Nelson Childs- young adult book review  
Orphan's Quest (Book One of The Chronicles of Firma)
by Pat Nelson Childs
Grades 10+ 332 pages Glynworks Publishing June 2007 Paperback    

I loved this book! Author Pat Nelson Childs goes to great lengths to highlight numerous seemingly misfit characters of widely varying genetics, origins, sexual orientation and differing cultures. Yet, because of these unique and individual features, these “outsiders” are enabled to become heroes in their own right – earning long -sought-after answers and family connections.

The main character, Rokey – like most orphans and abandoned children - spends much of his free time wondering who his parents were and why he ended up at the Brotherhood of the Noble Contemplative. Rokey is just now thinking about sex and wondering why girls don't affect him the way they do his friend and roommate, Ely.

The upcoming tests at the school are going to be tough and Rokey knows he’s up for a challenge, but he is taken totally by surprise when he is entrusted with a task that would normally be handed to a much more experienced scholar. He bravely shoulders the task, but the Abbot’s unexpected death leads to his dismissal. Drained of emotion, Rokey takes his few belongings and heads out onto the dangerous road. There attacked by robbers, he is fortuitously rescued by a member of a strange band of people. He soon falls deeply in love with his rescuer, an elf named Flaskamper, and develops a strong bong with the gentle giant Lorqu, the emotionally haunted Stamford, and the physically marred Fia.

Orphan's Quest is the first book in the "Chronicles of Firma" young adult fantasy adventure series involving castles, dungeons, royalty, battles and adventure, travels and new cultures that the five main characters experience at every turn of the page. The quintet develop a strong friendship while battling crafty shape-shifters, malicious rat-men, horrific sandstorms, angry ghosts, dangerous insects and evil harpies in their attempts to thwart a cult that threatens to dominate the region. Luckily they find friendship and safe harbor through relatives, mystics and sorcerers along the way, including Jamba, Battista and Glaelie.

The unique cultures and peoples still contain elements of classic fantasy, including the Saebrilite tribe of dominant females and the Sidhe - magical tricksters that wreak havoc.

Readers witness each character’s personal growth as they encounter love and romance, discover loyalties, and develop endurance and strength. This book is not a story that will leave the reader feeling that everything is rosy – there are very sad events, and demeaning and horrible things happen, yet together the characters stand tall.

Orphan's Quest is the perfect opening to Chronicles of Firma and will certainly leave readers aching for the second book of the series, Scion’s Blood. North American readers will appreciate that the book was produced in the United States, which results in fewer fossil fuels spent during transport. The map and introduction to the book describe some of the terms used on Firma. Orphan's Quest is available in three different formats (hardcover, softcover and e-book).

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Lillian Brummet/2008 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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