Skip to Main Content

The Quest of Danger

Book #4 of Once Upon a Tim
Illustrated by Stacy Curtis


See More Retailers

About The Book

Set sail to Atlantis with Tim and his friends in the laugh-out-loud funny, highly illustrated fourth book of the New York Times bestselling Once Upon a Tim series from Spy School author Stuart Gibbs.

Tim and his ragtag crew have been rescued from certain doom by a mermaid princess—but now, she wants something in return for saving their lives: her father King Neptuna’s stolen trident.

To pay their debt, Tim, Belinda, Ferkle, Rover, and Princess Grace once again brave the Sea of Terror to track down the trident in the glorious city of Atlantis, which hasn’t sunk into the sea yet. (In fact, it is famed as the safest city on earth.) But there is plenty of danger en route—and the notorious Prince Ruprecht is lurking about as well. Can the junior knights evade the scheming royal and complete their quest?


Chapter One: Why I Was in Danger CHAPTER ONE Why I Was in Danger

My friends and I were tied up in a rowboat, about to plunge over a waterfall at the edge of the earth.

I know this is not the way these stories usually begin.

Believe me, I would have been much happier if our quest had started some other way. Like this, for instance:


There was a brave young knight-in-training named Tim who woke up safe and sound in his nice, comfy bed to find a hot meal of bacon, oatmeal, and more bacon waiting for him.

Unfortunately, that is not what was happening in my life at this time.

Over the past few days, I had battled a bargleboar, a sea monster, and a hydra; been tortured by the horrendous singing of the sirens; nearly got swallowed by a giant whirlpool; been betrayed by my fellow knights; and been captured by the evil Prince Ruprecht and his horde of nasty pirates, who had put us in that rowboat and sent us to our doom.

All in all, it was a crummy week.

And yet, being a knight-in-training was still better than my previous job.

Before this, I had been a peasant, just like my father and his father and his father and everyone else in the history of my family. Being a peasant was dull and boring, which is why I had jumped at the chance to become a knight.

Being a knight had been very exciting. Quite a bit more exciting than I had expected, in fact. I had traveled to many distant lands, met many unusual people, and nearly died in many different ways.

Obviously, I had survived all those ordeals. But this one looked like it might be different.

You may have noticed that there were three other people and a giant frog in the boat with me.

Belinda was my closest friend, a tough, loyal girl who had pretended to be a boy so that she could join the knights, because, sadly, most people in my time didn’t think girls could do anything except be housewives or witches.

Princess Grace was, well… a princess. The princess of Merryland. People in my time (including Princess Grace’s parents) thought that princesses should do even less than other girls. They were expected to simply wait around the castle for princes to show up and ask to marry them. Princess Grace liked the idea of that even less than Belinda and I liked the idea of being peasants, so she had snuck away to join us on our adventure.

Of course, if she had known how things were going to work out, she might have stayed home.

Ferkle was our village idiot, although he was actually very intelligent. He had only gone into village idiocy because it was the family business.

Rover was not really a giant frog. He was a fr-dog. He had originally been my dog, until the mean witch who lived next door to me got angry at him for digging up her begonias and turned him into a frog. So now he was a frog who behaved like a dog. He could lick your face from ten feet away.

I’m not sure if Rover was worried about the waterfall ahead, but the rest of us certainly were. We had almost reached the lip of it and were about to go over the edge of the earth.

“I know we have been in plenty of danger before,” Ferkle said, “and we have escaped each time. But this situation doesn’t look very good at all.”

“So you don’t have a plan for how to get us out of this?” Princess Grace asked.

“If I had a plan to get us out of this,” Ferkle said, “don’t you think I would have put it into action already?”

Princess Grace frowned. “I was hoping that, maybe, you were waiting until the last moment to announce it. For better dramatic effect.”

“No,” Ferkle told her. “In fact, there’s really only one thing I can come up with to do right now.”

“What’s that?” Belinda asked.

“Cry,” Ferkle replied. And then he began to sob. “It’s not fair! We’re all too young to die!”

Princess Grace and Belinda began to cry as well. I felt that I ought to try to be brave and strong in the moment, but I found myself getting teary too.

The current took the boat to the edge of the waterfall. Our bow poked over the rim. We were only a second away from plunging to our doom.

And then we stopped.

The water kept flowing all around us, but our boat was no longer moving. We just sat there with the stern in the water and the bow sticking out over the edge of a very, very, very big drop.

You are probably not that surprised that we didn’t go over. I mean, this is only the first chapter of the book. There’s still over a hundred pages left. If we were going to perish right off the bat, then this would only be a pamphlet.

However, my friends and I were very surprised.

“What happened?” I asked, feeling extremely relieved but still quite nervous. “Why aren’t we plummeting to our deaths?”

“I don’t know,” Ferkle admitted.

“Perhaps it’s some sort of magic?” Belinda suggested.

“Maybe the person whose hand this is could tell us,” Princess Grace said.

The rest of us looked at her, confused.

“What hand?” I asked.

“The one holding on to our boat,” Princess Grace replied. And then she pointed to it.

Sure enough, there was a hand grasping the stern of the rowboat. Like this:

The hand was attached to a very muscular arm, which was sticking out of the water. The rest of whoever the arm belonged to was hidden below the surface.

And that’s when our adventure really began.

About The Author

Photograph by Dashiell Gibbs

Stuart Gibbs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Charlie Thorne series, FunJungle series, Moon Base Alpha series, Once Upon a Tim series, and Spy School series. He has written screenplays, worked on a whole bunch of animated films, developed TV shows, been a newspaper columnist, and researched capybaras (the world’s largest rodents). Stuart lives with his family in Los Angeles. You can learn more about what he’s up to at

About The Illustrator

Stacy Curtis is the illustrator of The 7 Habits of Happy Kids series by Sean Covey and the Once Upon a Tim series by bestselling author Stuart Gibbs. He lives with his wife and dog in Oak Lawn, Illinois.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (November 7, 2023)
  • Length: 176 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665917476
  • Ages: 7 - 10

Browse Related Books

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Stuart Gibbs

More books from this illustrator: Stacy Curtis

More books in this series: Once Upon a Tim