I remember reading this fantasy adventure book set sometime in the medieval era, which I am 90% sure is part of a larger series, about 5 or so years ago, but I could not tell you anything about the general plot or the characters involved in the series except for this one specific scene that I remember. I don't know why I remember just this scene, but it's stuck on my mind and I need to know what the book is. The scene goes something like this (note my memory may not be fully accurate so some details may be wrong; this is how I remember it though):

A teenage boy (most likely the main protagonist) is travelling through a desert on a horse, following a certain direction on a compass that he has. But he is off-course due to a large iron mountain or quarry in the far distance that is influencing the compass, making it so that the compass needle is not actually attracted to the real north, but rather towards the aforementioned iron formation. I think the book specifically mentions that the boy sees something in the far distance (presumably the iron formation), but doesn't think much of it. Unaware of this grievous error, he continues on the course for several days, eventually running out of water and food. His horse eventually succumbs to exhaustion and he cannot continue on his journey.

(I am less sure of this part, I feel like I may be conflating this with some other book I read) Falling into unconsciousness, the boy later wakes up to find himself in the care of some desert nomads or desert dwellers, who are giving him water and food. I specifically remember one of the desert people telling the boy not to drink the water so fast so that he doesn't throw up, since he hasn't drank water in so long. After he recovers, the desert people inform him of the iron formation nearby, which was what was throwing off his compass. Then, for some reason I can't remember, the desert people claim ownership of the boy's horse and demand that he participate and win in a horse race in order to reclaim his horse. Despite the horse's weakened state as a result of the ordeal in the desert, the boy wins the horse race and reclaims his horse. He then goes on his way to continue on his journey (what that is, I really don't remember).

  • Do you remember anything about the actual fantasy aspects?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jan 9 at 4:41
  • @FuzzyBoots Sorry, I don't really remember much else other than this one specific scene, there may have been some sort of monsters involved in the plot but I could be conflating this with some other novel I have read.
    – Aiden Chow
    Jan 9 at 4:49
  • If this is indeed Ranger's Apprentice (which it does sound like), the first two books do involve monsters, which are used by a local dark lord type. That said, they kind of stop showing up after that, and the series becomes more general medieval adventure, with supernatural stuff only appearing rarely, and not as clearly supernatural.
    – kenod
    Jan 9 at 13:15

2 Answers 2


This sounds like John Flannagan's "Erak's Ransom" from the Ranger's Apprentice series.

Will, the protagonist, uses a "northseeker" (a compass) to get through the desert but gets pulled off-track through the influence of an iron mountain.

The hills were, in fact, the site of massive deposits of iron — so rich that at times the ore itself was visible in large veins on the surface. The red coloration was the result of rust forming. The problem for Will was that as he rode among these huge iron deposits — and some of the hills were almost completely composed of iron ore — his magnetic Northseeker needle would deviate from the earth's magnetic field as it was attracted to the metal all around him.

  • 2
    Hi Paul. I have the book so I've added a quote. Please feel free to roll back my edit if you don't like it. Jan 9 at 10:53
  • 2
    I've looked at some of the summaries on Wikipedia of some of the other books in the series and it is bringing back memories, so I'm confident it is this. Thanks!
    – Aiden Chow
    Jan 9 at 18:35

You are thinking of The Black Stallion Returns. It isn't fantasy, but you have described the plot exactly. There was a movie as well.

  • 5
    Given that OP has already accepted a completely different book as the answer, could you edit this to explain in more detail why you believe this is the correct answer?
    – F1Krazy
    Jan 10 at 11:39
  • 2
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Does this fit the detail of a compass being selected by a large iron deposit?
    – DavidW
    Jan 10 at 11:42

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