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The Transall Saga Hardcover – May 11, 1998

4.7 out of 5 stars 186 customer reviews

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Realistic fiction for tweens
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Gary Paulsen, author of several books of high adventure and survival--including the Newbery Honor winners Dogsong, Hatchet, and The Winter Room--this time brings readers a science fiction tale reminiscent of Planet of the Apes. The Transall Saga follows 13-year-old Mark on his first solo desert camping trip. After stepping into a mysterious beam of light, Mark is transported to another place--a strange and hostile world. As Mark tries to find his way back home, he learns to survive in this dangerous jungle, calling on reserves of strength he didn't know he had. Encountering wild creatures, primitive tribes, and a more advanced and warlike group of humans, the young protagonist is forced to grow up before he can return to the life he once knew. In the process, he becomes a slave, a warrior, and falls in love--all before the mystery of exactly where he is becomes clear.

As an adventure story and coming-of-age tale, The Transall Saga makes for gripping reading. While the account of Mark carving a new life in a place both strangely familiar and totally alien is cleverly imagined, the science fiction elements are, unfortunately, not nearly as well thought out. Still, fans of Paulsen's other works will find much to enjoy here, including vivid characters, exotic locations, and feral beasts that will not soon be forgotten. (Ages 10 to 15) --Neil Roseman

From Publishers Weekly

Paulsen (Brian's Winter) works his magic with another wilderness adventure yarn. But the wilderness this time isn't in this worldAor is it? That's what 13-year-old Mark tries to discover. On his first solo backpacking trip, crossing an old missile range in a desert out west, a mysterious blue light transports him to a thick red jungle under a sulfurous sky. There the struggle for survival soon supersedes the quest for the route home. Paulsen draws on such Saturday-matinee staples as poisonous insects, deadly quicksand and murderous beasts; Mark even swings on vines with a friendly monkey-like creature (and this is just the first 30 pages). Yet the plot feels fresh, thanks to the author's taut, unsentimental storytelling (Mark's Tarzan-esque antics, for example, result in broken ribs). Mark grows to manhood in the four or so years of his sojourn; the narrative, meanwhile, continues at a hurtling pace. The teen saves a girl's life, then joins her tribe of forest-dwellers; later, he is captured with them and enslaved by the more technologically advanced Tsook people. There are raids, escapes and brushes with the Tsook overlord, the Merkon, who takes a frighteningly keen interest in Mark. Readers may figure out who the Merkon is long before the protagonist does, but no matterAthe action along the way (including just the right dash of romance) is never less than enthralling. While the story is self-contained, the end points to a sequel, so, with any luck, another installment is on the way. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 630L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (May 11, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385321961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385321969
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,105,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Fischer on November 21, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been an elementary (5th grade) teacher for 9 years and love to read to my students daily. Transall Saga "hands down" has been the "top choice" best book of the year all 9 years running. As matter of fact it has created a love and excitement for students who dislike reading.
I would love to see Mr. Paulsen do us all some justice and get busy writing a sequel. Mark needs to go back to the desert with his scienctific cohorts and show them what he's really made of. Please Mr. Paulsen get busy... we're all waiting for part 2. Also, I can't believe a producer hasn't pick this story up for a movie. I have read the "Hatchet series" and love it. But Transall Saga I feel by far is his best adventure!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Transall Saga by Gary Paulson is a great book that anyone should read. This book is full of thrilling adventure and mind compeling events. This book is about a "city boy" named Mark that convinces his parents to let him go camping by himself in the desert. While camping he discovers a strange blue light. He fell through it and found himself in a strange world with many alterations. There are different animals and plants. Colors of things are different too. some how he has to survive in this world, as he is learning he is also growing in many ways. Read this book to find out how he survives in this wilderness. This is an awesome book in my point of view.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
What can I say. I've read about 17 of Gary Paulsen's books in the last few months and this is the only one I wasn't crazy about.

The idea is interesting-- it's standard sort of scifi fair; boy whisked away mysteriously to an alien world where he has to fight to fit in-- but the book is way too short to cover all the ground that Paulsen has lined up. As a consequence there's no character development, and scenes flip one to another without much to connect them at times.

I blame the YA publishers for this, by the way. As Tamora Pierce has noted, it took Harry Potter to convince them that kids' attention was longer than a gnat's. And I'd be willing to bet that they required Gary to keep his word count down, which is a darn shame because I would have loved to have seen this book fleshed out.

In any case, let me add a caveat that if you are in the mood for a fast-pace adventure without anything of weight to slow you down, you might like this. [If I were to give an equivalent it would probably be the old Robert E. Howard "Conan the Barbarian" books-- minus the fur clad babe on the cover.]

But if you like "The Haymeadow" or "Sarny" give this one a miss, or check it out at the library.

Pam T~
one of the moms at booksforkids-reviews
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
As an avid fan of Gary Paulsen since fifth grade, I look forward to and usually enjoy all of his books. "Transall Saga" was no exception.
When Mark goes out on a hiking trip in the desert, he is enveloped in a strange blue light and transported to what appears to be another world. He's injured in the ordeal, and must recover while trying to stay alive. Once he's well enough to move around more freely, he makes discoveries, namely monkey-like creatures and fruit...as well as evidence of people. One day, he is captured by and enslaved by a group of indigenous people. As time progresses, Mark takes on other roles in the comparitively primitive society, and discovers something rather unsettling about his new world.
The premise of "The Transall Saga" is a tried-and-true one, as is Paulsen's adolescent, male protagonist. Fans of Gary Paulsen will notice similar themes to his other books, but they don't detract from the story.
My only real criticism is of the ending. It was very abrupt, and didn't clean up all the loose ends. For that reason alone, I gave "The Transall Saga" four stars instead of five.
Recommended audience: fans of survival fiction, science fiction and/or speculative fiction.
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Format: Paperback
Mark, our main character, is a hiking and camping fanatic. So much so that he manages to convince his mom and dad to allow him to go out onto an abandoned missile range for a week of hiking and camping.
While fixing himself dinner on the first night a bright blue light appears from the sky and tunnels down to the ground. As Mark struggles to see the light he accidentally falls in, which begins the story.
Mark wakes up to find the grass red, the sky reddish, strange plants surround him, and then he is nearly mauled by a strange animal. Mark quickly realizes that he is a long way from home, and maybe even a long time from home. As he struggles to survive the harshness of the wilderness Mark ends up fighting a war.

The author of the book, Gary Paulsen, was able to create an environment for the book that had never been seen before, along with this he was able to add major plots developments that fit expertly into place, and threw in struggles along the way that are unimaginable for the most of us. Now although this is a science-fiction book to the max, Gary Paulsen doesn't try to wow the audience with tales of technology beyond that which is conceivable but rather goes a different route altogether and paints a picture of what it may be like should humanity as we know it went against a force that could not be stopped.
Now it does sound like this is more a horror story based off of the above paragraph, it is because I have failed to mention the smaller bits and pieces. Mark who finds himself in a world all alone finds a friend (monkey), a family, human-like friends, and helps defeat the major protagonist of the story.
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