The Die of Destiny

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Pub Date Aug 03 2021 | Archive Date Aug 17 2021

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It’s a strange and intriguing place—Hob & Bogie’s Curiosity Shoppe. It’s a gaming store, but instead of carrying the latest in cool gaming gear and gadgets, the store is filled with board games, including role-playing games featuring hundreds of miniature warriors, wizards, and monsters, models of dragons, and lots of various-sided dice.

The store windows were too tempting for twelve-year-old Lucas and his foster brother Miles to pass by. Immediately, they’re greeted by one of the store owners named Hob, an elderly gentleman with a long, gray beard. Miles thinks he could pass for a wizard. Lucas doesn’t want to stay long, not when he’s running away from his foster home, where he doesn’t feel like he fits in.

Hob invites the boys and another girl, Jasmine Bautista, Lucas’s classmate, to play a curious RPG game called Champion’s Quest. The game does sound interesting. In it, players assume different character roles and are given dangerous challenges as they earn treasures, acquire weapons, and gain experience points to defeat harder, more menacing monsters to ultimately win.

When Vanessa from the foster home tracks them down, she insists the boys go home. As they walk out the front door, they immediately discover they’re no longer in West Virginia, but transported right into the Champion’s Quest game—a wild fantasy world of dangerous trolls, brutish minotaurs, and powerful magic.

The four kids—Lucas, a fiercely independent boy who suffers from panic attacks; Jasmine, a feisty girl who struggles to make friends; Miles, a book-smart boy with a wide-eyed innocence; and Vanessa, a perpetually grumpy sixteen-year-old girl—are suddenly immersed in this world as their new RPG characters.

They must work together as a team, overcome their real-world weaknesses, and believe in themselves and each other as champions if they are to outwit, outplay, and survive their foes in this ultimate quest to defeat a treacherous, three-headed monster.

Champion’s Quest: Die of Destiny is a middle-grade fantasy with themes of friendship, cooperation, perseverance, overcoming anxiety, and the emotional need to feel accepted.

It’s a strange and intriguing place—Hob & Bogie’s Curiosity Shoppe. It’s a gaming store, but instead of carrying the latest in cool gaming gear and gadgets, the store is filled with board games...

Advance Praise

"Champion's Quest may be one of my favorite reads of the year. I was hooked from page one. With adventure, humor, friendship, and courage, readers will love this middle grade fantasy! By the end, my only question was, "Where's the next book?"

—Jennifer Nielsen, New York Times bestselling author

"High-energy series starter. Scenes of cooperation particularly shine, making for a satisfying wish-fulfillment adventure that's especially appealing for those interested in RPGs."

—Publishers Weekly

"Champion's Quest may be one of my favorite reads of the year. I was hooked from page one. With adventure, humor, friendship, and courage, readers will love this middle grade fantasy! By the end, my...

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ISBN 9781629728506
PRICE $17.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 27 members

Featured Reviews

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I really enjoyed this book watching the characters grow and change in a realistic way is something that is hard to find in a Middle-Grades book. Not only that but the world that was brought to life felt like I could have been standing there with the characters. The author does an amazing job at making use of all of the senses of the characters to describe what was happening. The pacing did slow down a little in the middle but that was to help with character development and it quickly picked back up. All in all, I cant wait to see more from this author and I almost want to go back and read some of his older books.

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When I told my kids that I had just read an ARC of a book about some teens who basically get to play a real, live (sort of) game of dungeons and dragons, they were instantly interested. I have never read this author before, but this book is enjoyable and has a lot going for it. It will definitely to appeal to kids who love fantasy and role-playing games.

The characters are good and, I think, relatable to kids. It’s great to see how their friendship grows as they participate in this game and how they learn to work as a team and encourage each other. That is what I liked most about it.

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Lucas is an orphan boy whose plans to run away from his current foster home get interrupted by a little problem. He's stuck in a fantasy, D&D-esque world! And the only way he's getting back to our world is if he and his party finish their assigned quest. Will they be able to work together and outthink their enemies or will they be forever stuck in the Champion's Quest world?

This book was full of adventure and it felt a lot like reading a story about a D&D campaign, where the characters don't know the rules because they lost the rule book. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the characters try to figure out the sort-of familiar feel of an RPG world, but things are enough different that it's easy to mess up.

On to the characters! I really liked how Lucas and the other characters grew over the book, especially as they started to become more of a team. I also liked it when they realize all the different things their gadgets could be used for, instead of just smacking people with them. They have to learn how to outsmart their opponents with the tools that are available to them. On top of all that, they aren't perfect adventurers. They mess up... a lot, but they persevere and become a sort of family, which was one of my favorite things about them.

There were so many adorable moments in this book, but I don't want to ruin any of them for you, just know that hummingbirds apparently make great trackers.

Overall, this book is full of adventure, perseverance, friendship, and more. Is it a great Middle-grade fantasy book, and I would recommend it to any who like that genre. The cover is amazing and, yes, that is an actual bone dragon on the cover (I think this might be the 1st fantasy book I've ever read that's had one). I enjoyed reading it and I'm looking forward to seeing more from this author.

Content Warnings:
This is a Middle-Grade book, so there's not any huge CWs, however I will mention a few things that might bother some people.

-Mentions of parent death
-Maze of bones, complete with bone dragon
-Characters die, but get brought back to life, since they're trapped in game world (kind of like a video-game)
-Discussion of running away from foster home <spoiler> he does not end up running away <spoiler>

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This book was fun but hard to get into. I do like Frank L Cole and think he does a great job. I will definitely recommend this to my friends and this author.

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#championsquestthedieofdestiny #netgalley

Such a cool adventure book! I loved the characters and the way that they grew so much and leaned on each other during this daring adventure that they went on. Great book!

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Lucas' life is about to change just not exactly in the way he thought. When he entered that game shop he was hoping to ditch his friend and run away from their newest foster home in a line of them. But what happened was he, his friend, a girl from school, and his foster parents daughter who Lucas is sure hates him get transported into a role playing game and now must fight, think, and work together so they can complete the quest if they want to leave the game. Sounds easy right?

This is a great book especially with the different role playing games making a comeback. It shows how with teamwork you can accomplish a lot more than by yourself. The best part is they couldn't just give up and say its to hard they had to keep going or they would be stuck in the game forever. I think this will hold the attention of readers young and old and I hope they like it as much as I did.

This review will appear on my blog on Aug 3rd.

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Adventure and fantasy reign making it hard not to want to jump right in with the characters and battle right along with them.

Lucas wants to run away from his latest foster home. Hoping to have a chance to ditch his friend, he enters a curiosity shop, but instead, he, his friend, and two girls related to the foster home (and ones he wants nothing to do with) step out of the shop to find themselves swept into another world. Here, they find themselves in the they aren't sure of the rules and don't really know how to play. But if they want out, they're going to have to play and win.

When I read the blurb on this one, I knew I had to get my hands on the ARC. It's fantasy pure with tons of imagination, action, and impossible odds. The author does a wonderful job at building the scenes and creates a rich world, and that without rambling into long descriptions. The pacing is well placed and keeps the action rolling, but characters aren't forgotten, either.

One of my favorite things about this read is that the characters aren't perfect. While the idea of a kid running away from a foster home does draw in an immediate amount of sympathy, this one doesn't rely on that alone. Each character has things they are dealing with, and each one needs the unexpected and odd friendship which forms between them. These kids are not awesome fighters, nor do they have any clue what to do when they are thrown into the 'game'. They make tons of mistakes, since they don't know the rules, and have to learn as they go along. And they do learn as well as discover different ways to handle things then what might usually be expected.

Then, there's the friendship. That's probably one of the main themes in this one. They aren't exactly the kind of kids, which normally would ever get along. And yet, they have to and learn to stretch beyond their own borders. The character arcs are strong, and the development is hard to miss. There's humor, frustrating scenes, ones that pull at the heart, and plenty of great moments of action and victory. It's a wonderful mix and a fun read.

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to review this book early. Rating and review are my own.

When I read the description of this book, I thought getting sucked into a game of D&D sounded like a good time and right up my alley. When it came to the execution, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations but was still a fun book to read. It took me a while to get connected to the characters and I think I would have liked it a little more if some of the scenes were more fleshed out or had more…atmosphere. Also, a lot of the things that happened with the characters seemed convenient or too easy at times and I never really felt like there was all that much danger or struggle and when there was it resolved itself almost instantly.

BUT, that being said, this is a middle grade book and I can easily see this being a good starter book for a young reader who may be interested in fantasy and tabletop RPGs. If you are a parent who plays D&D and the like, get this book for your kids and play some Champion’s Quest with them.

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Champion’s Quest is the fourth book by Frank L. Cole that I have read and my favorite so far. It is written for middle grade readers but kept my interest and would be great for a reluctant reader. The chapters are short, with nonstop action, and full of surprises. It is the story of four kids who accidentally end up in a board game and have to complete their quest in order to go home. I liked that the book isn’t violent. The vitality meters on the medallions the kids wear lose bloodstones if they’re attacked, and if they lose all of them they just wake up back at the beginning of the game. Lucas and Miles are foster kids at the same home, Vanessa is the daughter of their foster parents, and Jasmine is a girl from the Philippines who lives with her grandma. They all have different personalities and skills and learn to work together to solve their quest and return home. Thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing for an ARC to use for my review.

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3.5 stars
This was a very interesting book at first glance as I received this book from my sisters. I was excited to start it and eagerly started reading the first chapters. It moved through the plot very quickly and I enjoyed it initially. However, after further reading through this book, I was underwhelmed with the concept, the sudden slow storyline, and flat characters. There were some bright spots in this book, but overall, I had a more difficult time getting through it.
One of the big reasons I struggled reading this book was the little character development. The main character Lucas appeared very immature and incredibly predictable as “the leader.” On the flip side, however, I loved the dynamic Jasmine. She was Flipino and had an intriguing personality. Miles played his role as a classic geeky sidekick well and was an entertaining character. I did not enjoy Vanessa’s character as she had the characteristics of the mean girl turned loving older sister, but it ended up seeming forced and poorly executed. Plot-wise, there were some more intriguing locations that I wish they spent more time in and felt rushed as they went from place to place. This book did have great side-characters with their witty dialogue and well-placed appearances.
I would recommend this book to a younger audience of about 10-12 years olds. By no means was this a bad book, just one that did not end up meeting my expectations or fitting my interests. Overall, this book had some good characters, an interesting plot, but a slow pace. Furthermore, if there was a sequel from another character’s perspective, I would look forward to reading that. I would give this book 3 and a half stars.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher through Netgalley. All views expressed are only my honest opinion, a positive review was not required.

I posted my review on Goodreads and Barnes and Nobles. I will post on Amazon and blog closer to release date

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This fun story is about Lucas, who is planning to run away from his foster home and ends up in a role playing adventure game along with three of his friends. The characters are interesting and there are lots of scary monsters. The story line is compelling with lots of plot twists. I think kids are going to like this one a lot.

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NOTE: I received an Advanced Readers Copy from the publisher (Shadow Mountain Publishing) in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my reactions/rating. This also means that all quotes and plot points are based on the ARC copy and should not fully reflect the final work.

"WARNING - Gameplay in Champion's Quest only ends upon successful Quest completion." 

World-building: Realistically, there isn't a ton I can put here. Of course, there is the whole aspect of building the game, making the rules, learning about the creatures, and mentions of map pathways, but as far as actual description goes, this story could benefit from having more. There was a lot of telling and not showing, so for most of the book I was picturing the characters in a generic forest or town, but in some cases, I couldn't picture anything and, in my mind, the characters were emoting against a white background.

Plot: Right away, this plot sweeps you off your feet. By quickly introducing a whole slew of characters, there's no disconnect between learning the backstory of main character Lucas and launching into a world of magic and mysticism. The plot runs as any other adventure might, but there are definitely aspects that add flair. Specifically, I found it rather interesting that, in this game world, players can get injured, but they don't bleed. This might be a way to make the style a little more PG and less life-or-death, but it is also something that isn't normally in adventures like this. Otherwise, the "game mechanics" are similar to what most games have, including enemies, a health bar, a storage system (with limited space), a currency, and healing.

Characters: Of the characters, we hear the most about Lucas. Considering he is the one telling the story, this makes perfect sense. In the beginning, Lucas is a kid that just wants to get away from his foster home. Having lost his parents at a young age, he doesn't feel at home anywhere he gets placed and decided to run away. Lucas is a relatable character, in some ways, because he suffers from the "Creepers" or what others might simply call anxiety. This is a great way to talk about mental health for this age level and even shows that Lucas himself doesn't know what is happening to him.

While I think this is a great story, with an interesting premise, I think some of the characters are bland. We hear a lot about Lucas, the voice of the book, but the other characters lack a special something that would make me feel more drawn to them. In particular, Vanessa is a very dislikable, vain character. Not only does she come off as selfish from the start, she constantly asserts her age to inflict her superiority (which, to be fair, most teenagers probably would do). I found myself rolling my eyes at her character and generally felt like she didn't contribute much to the plot.

Miles was a fun character that I would consider fun-loving and energetic, however, I think this was exploited and often made him come off as dumb or foolish, which I don't think was the intention.

The character I wanted more from was actually Jasmine. I found her character the most interesting, especially since she is silent for a good portion of the novel. Game-wise, she is stealthy and quick to learn the rules; she even seems to be the best at fighting, a useful skill when it comes to RPGs. We learn a few things about her backstory and her family, but there is clearly more to her, leaving untapped potential.

Overall: Four normal kids are thrown into Champion's Quest, a role-playing game unlike any other. Taking the real-life stakes of Jumanji with the creativity of Dungeons and Dragons and the gaming feeling of open-world RPGs, board game lovers finally have a book curated especially for them. In the end, they learned how to overcome their differences and came together as a team, which is very heartwarming and leaves room for a book two!

Warnings: Mentions of death, anxiety, mild violence

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This was a super fun, intriguing and engaging MG read. I really enjoyed this story and Frank L. Cole is becoming one of my favorite authors now.
This story is about some kids who go check out a gaming store and find themselves in a game. They end up playing a real-life kind of dungeon and dragons RPG game and it highlights and shows how these friends have to work together as a team. They have to learn about themselves and their weaknesses and how to overcome them. They find themselves and how to learn, love, and accept themselves and their strengths and weaknesses.
It also illustrates how it's okay to be yourself, to have problems, and have to figure them out. It also shows how it's fine to be into gaming and RPGs and what you can learn from RPGs and gaming together with friends and family. This is a fantastic book and I can't wait to read the next installment in the story to find out what happens next. This is a wonderful, enjoyable, educational and worthwhile read. If you haven't read any of Frank L. Cole's books, you need to check them out and especially go check this book out now!!!
Thanks so much to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for letting me read and review this incredible MG read. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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A fun adventure based on the idea of being truly sucked into a RPG. Unfortunately I found it a bit lacking in character development. Lucas never really seems to gain any footing for the leadership position he's in, instead, it seems like the other players on his team just decide to trust him because they feel bad for him and the way they have treated him. He doesn't really become a confident strong leader. Most of the major game changing decisions are made by other characters without him having anything to do with it. There does come a point where he seems to be in charge of a plan, but it's practically left out to create suspense- you know he makes a plan but don't get to see the leadership characteristics he's gained because the book reveals the plan as it's in action. I had a hard time with the ending in general, feeling it was too easy for them and I was left feeling a little disappointed. All in all, it was a great idea, but not quite developed enough.

Thanks NetGalley

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this book was such an interesting twist on the middlegrades i have read before. i really enjoyed the world building, the action and the characters. I will deff be reccomending this book to preteen boys who are looking for an adventurous romp.

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If you like roll playing or reading, you will love this book. It's kind of a Dungeons and Dragons meets Jumanji. It was fun to watch the characters grow individually and as a group of friends. I hope you enjoy your read.

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Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Champion's Quest: The Die of Destiny

Author: Frank L. Cole

Book Series: Standalone for now

Rating: 3/5

Recommended For...: middle grade readers, fantasy

Genre: MG Fantasy

Publication Date: August 3, 2021

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Pages: 304

Recommended Age: 10+ (scary moments, slight violence)

Explanation of CWs: Some moments might be a bit scary for some readers.

Synopsis: Lucas Silver's life is about to change. He thinks it's because he's made plans to escape from his foster home and make his way to New York, but then he and some unlikely friends find Hob and Bogie's Curiosity Shoppe and agree to play a game of Champion's Quest.

When the four kids walk out the front door of the Curiosity Shoppe, they immediately discover they're no longer in West Virginia, but transported into the game and a wild fantasy world of dangerous goblins, brutish ogres, and a powerful witch.

They must work together as a team, overcome their real-world weaknesses, and believe in themselves and each other if they are to outwit, outplay, and survive their foes in this ultimate quest to defeat a treacherous monster.

Review: For the most part this was a fun read! The book did well with the world building and the story. The book would be a fun read for younger kids and kids who want to get into fantasy.

However, I did think that the characters weren't developed that well and that the pacing was a bit slow for me.

Verdict: It's good! Definitely recommend for younger kids.

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Great start on a new series. I have read and liked Frank L. Cole's books before, but I really love this one. It's about a group of kids that get magically sucked into a role playing game. Great characters that have to confront who they are while in the game, and learn to trust and work with each other despite their differences. It's a wild ride, with one sticky situation after another—and I loved it. Recommending it to my grandchildren. There is some game violence, but it's not gory. No swearing. I recommend it for ages 12+.

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i really enjoyed reading this book, it was a lot of fun reading and reading this as a children's novel. The characters were great and it was fun.

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As a rpg gamer, this book caught my eye. In in, our heroes are transported to the magical world of the game. There they become friends as they work together to save the day.

I received an ARC.

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I got this for my children to read. They all enjoyed it very much. The story was fun and imaginative. My children are ages 9 to 13 and they all thought it was a great read- both my boys and my girls.
We would recommend it to anyone who enjoys video games, action and adventure.

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A group of kids are swept up into a fantasy world that is also part of a role playing game. Lots of fun and also great lessons on leadership and teamwork. Although I lost track of the details and rules of the game along the way, kids into gaming will eat it up.

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Harry Potter meets Percy Jackson with a splash of Jumanji in this fun gripping tale with Lucas Silver. This book is great for adventure seekers, game lovers, and fantasy imagineers. Take a dive with Lucas as he is immersed in the Champions Quest and makes some new friends along the way! *received a copy from the publisher, all thoughts and opinions are my own*

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Frank Cole is one of my favorite middle grade authors. The Die of Destiny is so fun and there is danger, fun, and kids getting themselves out of mess they didn't intend. Oh, and humor, of course, it's one of Frank's books! I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

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Do you love quests? Do you love video games built around a story? Then you will love this book just like I did. I was questionable about my enjoyment of this book due to the Role-Playing Game tie-in as that is not something that I enjoy. However, I was completely wrong in my initial opinion of this book. I adored this story so much! I think my favorite part was actually how the four main characters, who had practically nothing in common, to begin with, and didn't even like each other, end up becoming a team and very good friends. And as lots of good middle grades have, there was a good moral message in this book.

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As someone who just started playing Dungeons and Dragons when this became available, I was really excited to be able to read it. I'm grateful for the review copy.

This book has everything you want a D&D campaign to be. It's full of adventure and meaningful character growth. They learn together and become greater than themselves through working together, as well as learning and growing individually. There's also humor, which tends to happen organically in a D&D session, and I'm glad it was included here.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It made me want to grab my dice and play!

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Lucas is done. He is escaping the life of a foster kid and running away. When he stumbles into a magic shop and is then suddenly whisked away to a fantasy land, he never could expect what happens next. A great look at friendship, hope, and overcoming struggles. It would be a great middle grade reader for fans of heavy fantasy. At times it was a little too much for me (pretty strong D&D vibes), but I could definitely see my MS boys really enjoying this. I'll share it with them next!

Thanks to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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