The cover illustration shows the viking Ivanna with her right foot on a treasure chest.
Siblings Marissa and Justin Clarke are lost in Antarctica and searching for their father, Richard Clarke, a famous writer exploring a forest looking for the elusive Blue Sea Lion. However, he has disappeared, leaving the two children to fend for themselves in the wintry wild. Redhead Marissa likes to complain a lot, she complains it is too cold, so cold her freckles disappear! Suddenly, the sled the two children are riding shoots off, leaving poor Justin literally in the cold. He runs after the sled and finally catches up just in time, for he and his sister to see the elusive Blue Sea Lion! Suddenly, the ice the two children are on cracks.They are now literally adrift in the ice.
Then it is revealed that their father is just telling his two children a story involving them. The family is not in Antarctica at all, but rather camping out in a forest of a (fictional) European country named Brovinia. After Justin accidentally knocks over a lantern and sets their tent ablaze, Justin's father lashes out at his children. Apparently they have been lazy. He burns them pretty good, when Marissa says she could not find any firewood: "You don't know where to look for firewood in a forest? How about on the ground?"
Richard Clarke, their father, picks a beetle from his beard, as he tells his children about his search for the Lost Legend. He goes into detail about why they are visiting the small country of Brovania. He reminds his children that he is a writer and he is there to find The Lost Legend, which is an ancient manuscript that is worth a lot of money.
Their father falls fast asleep, so Justin and Marissa try to drift off to sleep in their tent. However, they are awakened by animal noises. Justin briefly thinks that rather than being a random woodland creature, the animal outside their tent is probably a werewolf.
Justin walks outside the tent to see what creature is making noises and he sees a large white dog wagging his tail. Justin goes over to pet the forest dog and he keeps petting the dog, while Marissa reminds him of one of their father's stories, "the Laughing Ghost Dog." Once upon a time, there was a happy dog that appeared outside of a home in the village. As the children went to pet it, it started howling to the moon. See, it was calling its ghost dog friends to come and eat the villagers. When they found the dog later, he was laughing.
Justin continues to pet the dog. He is surprised to find the dog is wearing a collar, and tucked underneath it is a note: "I KNOW WHY YOU'RE HERE. FOLLOW SILVERDOG."
The children decide they must show their father this note, but unfortunately they can't wake him up! The two realize that they must follow Silverdog, even if their father can't go with them. As they prepare to trail behind the dog, Marissa reminds Justin of their father's story about the Forest Imp. The dog disappears into the night. Justin almost gives up, but then he hears animal sounds again. He grabs Marissa and forces her to accompany him in their quest to follow Silverdog. Except when the children get to the clearing, they discover they have accidentally been following a stag instead.
The two children start to panic but then they hear the real Silverdog calling to them and they follow the dog some more. The dog leads them to a cabin in the forest, and naturally the two children go inside. There they are greeted by a large blonde woman wearing a Viking horn helmet named Ivanna. She makes the children some soup.
Ivanna pulls the noodles out of their soup and reads their fortune. She tells the children that they are going to have to face a survival test in the morning if they hope to find the silver chest containing the Lost Legend. Ivanna tells them she is serious, as she would never joke about the survival test in the Fantasy Forest.
Justin is suddenly knocked out of his chair by a furry creature with a human face. It is Luka, a boy raised by wolves, who will serve as the children's guide in their survival test. The children fall asleep in the strange woman's cabin and awake the next morning to find themselves in a clearing in the forest. Their test has begun! Luka scampers around while the children put on their empty backpacks, which have been left for them in the clearing. They start down their path when Luka spots a squirrel and chases after it. They try to stop him but Luka disappears, leaving the children alone. Conveniently, the children find a note in a back pocket at that exact moment warning them to keep Luka with them, because if Luka is not there, the children will surely die.
The children keep on their quest and encounter a bunch of trees that are dropping large nuts. This torrent of nuts lands on the ground and the nuts pop open, and mice come out. The mice swarm around the children. The mice are robots. The children switch them off. Justin shoves a couple into his backpack to use later. Marissa runs off and gets smashed by a falling tree.
Except the tree is artificial. Marissa lightly brushes the tree off her body. She then happily goes around smashing the fake trees in the forest until she finds a real one. When she pummels the real tree, bats come out. The bats "swoop in for the kill", but they fly away after they hear a booming sound.
The children flee from the sound into quicksand that lies within the stream in the forest. Justin helpfully informs his sister not to worry, as he can see the drain in the middle of this stream. Then some giant cats, towering taller than the treetops appear.
The giant cats pick the children out of the quicksand with their teeth and start batting the children around. The cat then tries to swallow Justin. Justin's plan is to use the mice from his backpack to distract the giant cats. That does not work but luckily for no reason the cat spits Justin back out. The children run away and somehow make their way back to Ivanna's cabin. They spot Ivanna sitting motionless with her back to the door. In her back is a large wind-up key.
Silverdog shows up to whimper a little and then Luka shows up and pounces towards the children. But surprise, Luka can speak perfect English and he congratulates the children on passing the test! Luka then strips off his fur and explains what has happened to the children. He built Ivanna and all the artificial aspects of the Fantasy Forest to protect the forest's treasure. The children passed the test by realizing what was fake and what was real in the forest.
Luka gives the children the silver chest containing the Lost Legend and tells them to follow Silverdog back to their campsite, as the dog will protect them from thieves in the forest. The children get panicked by footsteps behind them and in a confused flurry they topple over themselves, sending the chest flying through the air and into the arms of their father. Their father is relieved to have found his children, and even more relieved to see they found his treasure. They all gather around the treasure chest, pry it open, and find an egg! They decide to take the wrong treasure back to Luka. Luka is awfully embarrassed; as he was sure the children and their father were in search of the Eternal Egg of Truth. Luka takes back the egg and explains that he does not possess the Lost Legend but some folks across the way do, although they may not be willing to part with it. The family treks off to a stone clearing and meet with the wanderers who obtain the Lost Legend. They politely ask for the Lost Legend and are shocked when it is handed over immediately. The family starts walking back through the forest, treasure in tow, when they get overcome with a need to check out the Lost Legend for themselves. They open the chest, read the scroll, and find out the only thing written on it is the following: "Whoever Owns the Lost Legend Will Be Lost Forever." The family looks up and sees that they've wander away from the stone clearing into unfamiliar part of the forest. Just as the legend foretold, owning the Lost Legend has made them lost... forever.
Despite Scholastic claiming the book is one of the top ten all-time best selling Goosebumps books, it did not receive a reprint of any kind. In fact, it was one of the only few books to not be reprinted in the 2003 - 2007 reprint series, along with Phantom of the Auditorium, I Live in Your Basement!, Werewolf Skin, and Monster Blood IV. Twenty-two years after its original release, the book is planned to have its first reprint in with the release of the Goosebumps 25th Anniversary Retro Set, which is to release in September 2017.
Legend of the Lost Legend is one of the few books in the original series to not receive a television adaptation for the Goosebumps TV series.
Cover art gallery
- Justin and Marissa's father was mentioned by name in the book: Richard Clarke.
- This is one of a few books the protagonist doesn't succeed.