The Adventurers Guild is one of those books where I’d expected one thing–not so much a judging a book by its cover, per se, but more like judging it by the genre (young reader’s fantasy… roger that)–but it turned out to be way more than I’d thought it would be.
The story itself is solid.
Everyone lives in Freestone, what they know to be the only surviving city after one of the city’s founders turned to the proverbial dark side and ended up letting “Dangers” (read: monsters) into this realm, where they demolished everything everywhere except for Freestone. Being surrounded by walls, but more importantly by magical wards, Freestone has been safe for generations. And so everyone thinks it remains…
Within the walls, life continues as it long has: As children turn thirteen, they’re selected as apprentices by different guilds that help the city operate. Most guilds are held in high regard. The knights keep everyone safe. The merchants keep markets operating and money flowing. The mages keep the city’s wards strong and deal with all things magical. Even the Golden Way–the city’s healers–are respected, though not many particularly aspire to give up their nobility and riches for that life.
The Adventurers Guild, though… no one wants to be there. That’s where the bottom of the barrel end up when they have no other choice and don’t want to live on the streets. A rough and rugged group led by an intimidating, harsh guildmistress, they’re the only people allowed to leave the city’s walls to explore as needed. But as an essential, if unthanked service, the Adventurers Guild gets to undermine the other guilds and take whichever apprentices they want from among the other guilds’ choices.
Long-time friends Zed and Brock–one a newly selected mage apprentice and one a fresh merchant apprentice–suddenly find themselves in the Adventurers Guild. And it’s while they’re sent outside the city on their first night in the guild with other new apprentices, out with the Dangers, it’s discovered that the magical wards protecting the city are starting to weaken.
… but it’s the writing that is really standing out to me.
It’s the kind of style that easily and deftly weaves among various characters with deep qualities in a richly thought-out and described world. But added to that, it also has humour thrown in to keep it lighter than it could be. All of which helps make it so much better than I expected–particularly after just trying out a kid’s fantasy/dystopian book that… um… yeah, let’s say the style wasn’t for me–that I suspect my wife is getting tired of me mentioning it.
Authors Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos have managed to give the book way more than it needed in order to merely effectively tell the story, which would have sufficed. As a result, the final product is heads and shoulders above other books of its reader level. Enough so that it makes a genuinely enjoyable book for adults to read, as well.
In short, it’s unexpectedly one of those books that makes me want to be a better writer. In other words, the best kind.