Happenstance Found (The Books of Umber, #1)
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Happenstance Found (The Books of Umber #1)

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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  2,532 ratings  ·  248 reviews

Twelve-year-old Happenstance awakens in a cave with no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. Soon a mysterious trio arrives to take him away: the explorer Umber, the shy archer Sophie, and Oates, whose strength and honesty are both brutal. Hap and his new acquaintances narrowly escape the cavernous underworld and make their way to Lord Umber's bustling jewel of a...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Aladdin (first published January 5th 2008)
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Happenstance Found by P.W. CataneseThe Ruins of Gorlan by John FlanaganDragon Games by P.W. CataneseThe End of Time by P.W. CataneseThe Icebound Land by John Flanagan
All Fantasy Of Books
1st out of 28 books — 18 voters
Divergent by Veronica RothThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingGraceling by Kristin CashoreCity of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Original Stories...a breath of fresh air
307th out of 2,208 books — 4,321 voters


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Community Reviews

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Abby Johnson
What a pleasant surprise this book was! Action and intriguing characters make for quite a page-turner. The ending resolves nicely, while still pushing readers to seek out the sequels. Hand this one to fans of fantasy adventure like Fablehaven or Pendragon.

Review: http://www.abbythelibrarian.com/2011/...
Laura (Kyahgirl)
3.5/5; 4 stars; B+

I came across this book in my quest for fantasy stories my 12 year old son might enjoy. I think it would be perfect for that age group but I also think most adults who enjoy fantasy would like this story. Right from the beginning there is danger and adventure and all sorts of unusual magical characters.

I found enough of a hook in the story about Lord Umber, to make me want to read more about this world and find out if he ever gets home.
Lana Krumwiede
A well-crafted story. Strong characters. Good solid world building. Some original ideas for a fantasy. Nothing really blew me away, but it was an excellent read that held my interest. Count me in for book #2.
El Templo de las Mil Puertas
"Lord Umber es un aventurero entusiasta que recorre el mundo de cabo a rabo en busca de monstruos, milagros y maravillas para describirlos en su obra magna, Los libros de Umber. Sin embargo, lo que acaba de encontrar en las ruinas de una ciudad perdida excede todas sus expectativas: un muchacho, llamado Casualidad, cuyos inhumanos ojos verdes pueden ver en la oscuridad, y que no recuerda absolutamente nada sobre su origen o su identidad. Lord Umber se lo lleva consigo a su Atalaya en Puerto Kura...more
Shawna
P.W.Catanese dazzles in the first of the planned Books of Umber series by wittily subverting genre tropes. Happenstance, a boy with strange green eyes, wakes up in a cave with no memories of who he is or anything about the fantastic world in which he lives. He soon encounters Lord Umber, an adventurer who seems familiar with our world as well as his own, and his two companions-a brute cursed to be forever truthful and a one-handed artist and archer. En route to Umber's home, they discover that H...more
Eva Mitnick
Young Happenstance awakens in a dark cave, not remembering who he is or where he came from. A voice tells him his name - and then a group of explorers discovers him and the sealed note in his pocket. It seems that the owner of the mysterious voice wants Happenstance to go with this group - the dapper and indefatigable Lord Umber, a teenager with a missing hand named Sophie, and a strong man named Oates - and so he does.

Lord Umber is a collector of mysteries, preferably magical ones, traveling al...more
Carrie Hickman
I was happily surprised by this book, it was exciting, fresh, and over all fun. I bought it out a whim and then set it on my island where I began to wonder why the heck I got it. I'm not really into this genre (I hated Beyonders) and the cover is just awful. But despite the gaudy design and the annoying double-spaces, I really enjoyed this book.
The characters, who all seem painfully cliché at first, are relatively well-developed and interesting. The villain was one-dimensional, but he served hi...more
Teresa Garrett
Happenstance, Hap for short, is found by Lord Umber in a subterranean city buried beneath an active volcano and guarded by a gargantuan worm-type beast. He has no memory of any life prior to being found but little bits of knowledge flow through his mind allowing him to speak and read - in fact he can read and speak several languages. More than anything he wants to know about his past but is worried about his future since he is being hunted by a strange creature known as the "Creep". Lord Umber k...more
Kate
I am not that far into the book, but I am already blown away by the beautiful and simplistic writing and the premise. I love the fantasy world as well, so fun!
Update: I finished the book! What I loved about this book was the mystery- who is Happenstance? That was utterly fascinating! I loved the distinct characters as well. Nothing turns me off more than undistinct characters who you can only tell apart by their names. So, I loved the colorful characters, Umber and Oates and so on. My only compl...more
Ronna
Apr 30, 2012 Ronna rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: AnaLee, Diana, Charity
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
Catanese has created some of the most lovable characters I have encountered in a fantasy! For me, Umber's appeal lies in his uncanny happiness despite his underlying psychological trials, his constant curiosity amid danger, and his amiable appeal to all those he encounters. My other favorites include Oats, with his absolute truth, and Malfor with his compassionate truth. Of course, Hap is a fantastic main character in his quest for identity. Overall, I really enjoyed the action, mystery and ques...more
Shadowshock
Interesting book... There wasn't a whole lot of action in it except at the very end yet it somehow kept me reading. There was no over long descriptive pages, but it was detailed enough for me to get a clear picture of the area. I guess what kept me reading was I was very curious as to who Hap was and what was going on with him. The writer invoked a good sense of mystery with the character without making the reader frustrated about never finding anything solid.
ThenSingsMySoul
Feb 25, 2014 ThenSingsMySoul rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Most fantasy fans
Recommended to ThenSingsMySoul by: Goodreads
Shelves: fantasy-fantasy
I found this books to be entertaining and enjoyable. The story was engaging, but elusive. The characters really stole the spotlight though. They were captivating and quirky. Even the most minor characters had something distinctive and amusing about them. Happenstance is one of the main characters and he wakes up in a cave with no memory. He is found by Lord Umber and his companions. They walk out of the cave and things start kicking into gear right about then, as they are attacked by a monstrou...more
Heather Constantino
Very entertaining story that I read to my son. He liked it enough that he wants to start the next book in the triology. High marks from him as he is not as easily entertained. Happenstance is a young boy who awakens with no memory of who he is or where he comes from or where he even is. He is found by a group under the leadership of Lord Umber and becomes a member of the troup. After being chased across an ocean and then hunted in Umber's hometown, Hap starts to learn bit by bit a little about w...more
Kelly
2011-12 Bluebonnet Can't wait until book 2 is out!
IndyPL Kids Book Blog
A boy wakes up in a dark cave, confused. He doesn’t know where he is or even who he is. Three people mysteriously appear to lead him to safety. The leader of the three is Lord Umber, an explorer, inventor and adventurer who studies all things mysterious and magical. He gives the boy a name, Happenstance, or Hap for short.

As the group heads to Lord Umber’s home, they discover unusual things about Hap besides his startlingly green eyes. For one, he never sleeps. Ever. He can see in the dark and he...more
Charlyn  Trussell
Happenstance, or Hap as he is called, is found by Umber, Oates, and Sophie in a maze of tunnels guarded by a many-legged and -toothed worm. Umber is obviously in charge of the mission to rescue Hap, but Oates' great strength and Sophie's archery abilities certainly help. Unfortunately, they had no idea that the treasure they had sought would be a young boy who had absolutely no memory before the moment he had awakened in the dark chamber from which he was rescued. Hap heard the voice of the one...more
Vanessa
By the time I got to the end of Happenstance Found, the first book in the Books of Umber trilogy, I liked it. However, the beginning of this book is a little slow and aimless.

Happenstance is a young boy who wakes up wet and blindfolded in a cave. Soon a man named Umber and his two companions come across him and take him on their journey.

For most of the book Happenstance and his new friends (as well as the reader) are unsure as to who or what Hap is. Is he from this world? Is he magical? What hap...more
Treasa
A twelve-year-old boy wakes up with no idea who he is or what was in his past. He is befriended by a group of people led by a man known as Lord Umber, a man who is full of information and advice on how to make their city better. An unknown man informs Umber that the boy should be called Happenstance, but nobody knows anything else about him. His brilliant green eyes startle others and allow him to see perfectly in the dark. He can jump incredibly long distances and run faster than humanly possib...more
Tasha
Feb 09, 2009 Tasha rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: teen
Happenstance awakens with no memory of his past at all. Ragged and blindfolded, he can hear the enormous worms outside the room he is kept in. When Lord Umber arrives to take him, Happenstance discovers that his eyes are very special. Bright green and sparkling, they can see in the dark and see farther than normal human eyes. Taken home with Lord Umber, after escaping a labyrinth filled with man-eating worms on a erupting volcanic island, Hap finds himself encountering one wonder after another....more
Carol
His first memories are of waking up in a dark underground cave. He knows things but has no memory of who or what he was before waking up. Strangers discover him and are instructed to call him Happenstance by a mysterious voice in the darkness. There is a note addressed to Lord Umber who is the leader of this group. He is a well-respected, wealthy man in the harbor city of Kurahaven. A merchant, explorer, inventor, and chronicler of the strange and unknown, Lord Umber is enthusiastic about this m...more
Kay Mcgriff
I put off reading The Books of Umber: Happenstance Found because I couldn't get past the cover. I still think it is a weird cover, but I'm glad I didn't let it stop me from encountering this magical tale. PW Cantanese has created a world filled with magic and monsters and mystery.

Happenstance awakens in a dark room in an underground city. His mind is as dark as the world around him, but as he encounters new things, his brain provides the words for it. There is just one thing he cannot know or r...more
Lydia Shellenbarger
The adventures of Happenstance as he happens upon an excentric man named Umber and his crew of skilled adventurers all while trying to uncover the great mystery... What and who in the world is Happenstance?

A very fun romp through a magical world of wonders made even more interesting by Umbers hints at another world he once called home with it's own peculiar brand of magic, technology. Yes, for the fans of DWJ's alternate realities, parallel worlds, The Books of Umber may be somewhat obvious, ho

...more
Chak
A very solid four stars (if they had a half star, I'd rate it even higher). I originally got this out of the library to check to see if my son would like it. I ended up devouring it (which wasn't hard - there aren't that many words on a page, and it's written for a grade 5-7 grade level). It had decent world-building for a early YA, and I loved the story and am eager to read the rest. It's an alternate-earth adventure story with ecological undertones. I love that a main character (Lord Umber) ha...more
Spacklefritz
At the start of the book we meet Happenstance who – I’m not even sure if that’s his name, but that's just me – has been woken by an unseen person [we only hear his voice] and has no recollection of his life before, whether it be where he was from or even his name, and so Mr. Unseen voice tells Happenstance to follow this group of people, Lord Umber, Sophie and Oates.

Umber is an eccentric man, with due reason actually, who I quite enjoyed hearing speak. There is a mystery that surrounds him as we...more
Ronda Trent
This book was recommended to my 5th grade daughter by the school Librarian. She came home talking about it non stop, so I had to read it because she wanted to discuss it so badly.
It is a book written for a younger audience, but I enjoyed the story and ended up having to buy the other 2 books in the series because the school library only had the first and we had to know what happens next!
Kelly
A young boy awakens in an underground room with no memory of who he is, not even a name. He is shortly rescued by a strange party of adventurers, led by Lord Umber of the Aerie, and is given the name Happenstance, or Hap. Hap is discovered to have magical abilities, such as night vision and the ability to jump very high, but his origin is completely unknown. It also becomes clear that in this world of abundant magic, Lord Umber is from another world entirely, one that readers will find familiar...more
Emma Mcdonald
What an enjoyable read this was! I loved how the author added depth to the characters throughout the book. Just when you were sure you had one pegged, there would be more revealed that offered further insight into the behaviors and attitudes of the character. I can see a David Eddings-like quality to this book (and future series) with a band of unlikely companions that go on seemingly random adventures with a single purpose tying them all together. I also like how Cantanese made each character v...more
Dustin
A fairly compelling beginning to what could prove to be a worthwhile series. Happenstance seems to pale a little in comparison to Umber, whom I find delightful, and his "abilities" seem a little stretched, but as this is book one I realize that the author has more than enough opportunity to further define his characters. I am intentionally writing this review now, though I have books two and three just waiting to be read. I want to judge this as a standalone novel. A major pro to me is the fanta...more
Andrew
One day, Happenstance wakes up in a cave with no memory, but when he asks himself what something is, the answer comes straight to him. Then Umber comes and rescues him and goes on many adventures that is one of the directions of the letter in his pocket that is meant for Umber. Now he gains knowledge that he was created against an ancient law and is being tracked by an odd creature named Occo.

I loved this book and the others in its series. Happenstance Found is a book that has suspense and myst...more
Lauren
Happenstance is a boy who wakes up with seemingly infinite knowledge of the world around him, but no knowledge of who he is and why he is being left in the care of an eccentric named Brian Umber. Meanwhile, Umber has no idea why he seems to be the only one to take care of Happenstance. So begins the story of Hap and Umber's adventure in finding the answers to their many questions while being hunted by a mysterious man who has a deadly fascination with the unique green eyes Hap possesses. This is...more
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Monthly Book Club: Happenstance Found [June] 2 8 Jun 17, 2012 11:32AM  
  • The Dragon of Trelian (Trelian, #1)
  • The Hound of Rowan (The Tapestry, #1)
  • The Dragon's Eye (Erec Rex, #1)
  • Saint Louis Armstrong Beach
  • The Cabinet of Wonders (The Kronos Chronicles, #1)
  • The Revenge of the Shadow King (Grey Griffins, #1)
  • Nightmare Academy (Nightmare Academy #1)
  • The Case of the Lost Boy (The Buddy Files, #1)
  • Lost (Magic Thief, #2)
  • Water Keep (Farworld, #1)
  • How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy
  • The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity (Brixton Brothers, #1)
  • Slathbog's Gold (Adventurers Wanted, #1)
  • Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow
  • Hide and Seek
  • 90 Miles to Havana
  • Wild Things
  • Misty Gordon and the Mystery of the Ghost Pirates
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P.W. (Paul) Catanese is the author of fantasy-adventure novels (published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster). He has over a half-million books in print, audio books on the way for all of his novels, and foreign translations for his new series, The Books of Umber. A crisp style, fast pacing, interesting characters and vivid descriptions have made him a favorite with everyone from reluctant readers to...more
More about P.W. Catanese...
Dragon Games (The Books of Umber, #2) The End of Time (The Books of Umber, #3) The Thief and the Beanstalk (Further Tales Adventures, #1) The Mirror's Tale (Further Tales Adventures, #4) The Eye of the Warlock (Further Tales Adventures, #3)

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“Once an idea is out and about, it can't be called back, silenced or erased. You can't contain it, any more than you could put the head of a dandelion back together after the wind has scattered its seeds.” 13 likes
“The worm hissed. "You said it couldn't see!" shouted Oates, forgetting Umber's instruction to be silent. He shook a fist. "We all heard it, Umber! You specifically said, it couldn't see!"
"I know-isn't it wonderful to learn something new?" Umber laughed.”
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