The Adventurers Guild, by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos

The Cybils Awards* shortlist for Elementary/Middle Grade speculative fiction has been announced, and though we are proud of the lovely books we chose, there were many others that were excellent as well, and which I am behind on reviewing (my long Christmas break from blogging has created a backlog). One of the books I most enjoyed reading was The Adventurers Guild, by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos (Disney-Hyperion, October 2017).  As well as being a fun fast read for me, it is a true treat for the young reader who enjoys magic monster slaying adventure in a fantasy realm!  In particular, if you have a young Dungeons and Dragons player of 11 or 12, offer them this book right away.

It's set in a world overrun with monsters.  A few beleaguered cities, walled and warded by magic, are all that remain.  Around them are monster-infested forests.  Two kids, Zed and Brock, are about to come of age in one of these cities, and it's time for them to be chosen by one of the city's guilds (if all goes well).  Brock's a shoe-in for the Merchants Guild (thanks to his father's position there), but Zed's future is more uncertain.  As a half-elf, the only one in the city, he's always been an outsider, but he hopes desperately the Mage's Guild will take him.  Neither wants to be chosen by the Adventurers Guild, whose men and women go hunting for monsters outside the city walls, and who don't live awfully long.  But it's the Adventures Guild that picks Zed, and Brock, in a moment of when loyalty to his friend overrides sense, volunteers to join them too.  With them is Liza, a girl from the leading family of the city, who, though brought up with privilege, is tough as nails, and Jett, a dwarf boy who dreams of being a great craftsman.  Though the main characters are boys, Liza gives girls who want to slay monsters a place to hang their hats very nicely too!

The four immediately start their monster hunter training, and just as quickly, things start to go wrong.  There are dangers afoot more subtle than the deadly monsters outside the walls, and the four kids are soon trying to figure out just what these are and how to save their city from falling.  This is me cleverly avoiding specific plot spoilers--the basic point is that the plot gets more complex and interesting than just slaying techniques and dangers.

It is a bright sort of book, very sensory, with clear sharp pictures in the mind, and characters each with their own flavor, and like I said, I enjoyed it lots.  It doesn't exactly break new ground, or take great risks in story or narrative style, which actually added to my enjoyment--I wasn't challenged to do more than just briskly turn the pages, and sometimes that's what I need and want most as a reader!  Which is not to say there weren't unexpected twists to the story, and there's interesting backstory of characters and world that provides substance.  I am looking forward very much to the next book!

And now I go to read the Kirkus review......and see their review liked it even more than I did!  "A dazzling adventure sure to become a classic...."

thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy for Cybils Award consideration.

*being a Cybils judge is something you can be too if you review books on line!  Please consider joining the fun next year--we welcome new folks!  Look for the call for panelists next August.


  1. I have this idea in my mind that I like books about young people training as apprentices, or something, though I can't think of many that I've read. This sounds like a fun read - while I have to check it out once I finish reading the shortlist :P

    1. Me too! I like people learning things and sort of fantasy boarding school settings very much.


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