Gr 4-6-The people of Rin are strong and brave, except for young Rowan. He spends his time caring for the bukshah, the gentle beasts that the villagers depend on for their survival. When their stream suddenly stops flowing and the bukshah are in danger of dying, six of the strongest, bravest villagers decide to climb the Mountain, hoping to avoid the Dragon that lives there, to find out what has happened. However, Sheba the Wise Woman is the only one who knows the way, and she has decided that Rowan must accompany the party, so she gives them a magic map that can only be read if he is holding it. Rowan starts off as fragile and a little whiny, but improves steadily, especially as he begins to realize that he plays an important role in the expedition. He is able to succeed through his own efforts, not through magic. The adults are one-dimensional at first, but as Rowan learns more about them, so do readers, and two of them prove to have unexpected depth. Traditional fantasy elements and setting are presented in a fast-moving and enjoyable tale that should be an easy sell to fantasy lovers.-Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.