The Adventurers Guild
by Zack Loran Clark & Nick Eliopulos
” Ser Jerra Freestone, the Paladin.
Magus Zahira Silverglow, the Enchantress.
Mother Aedra, Priestess of the Golden Way.
Dox Eural, the Assassin.
Foster Pendelton: the Warlock. The Traitor. The Father of Monsters.
Foster the half-elf. “
What if there is more in store for you than you ever could imagine? What if instead of just existing, you were chosen?
On the annual culling day, Zed is equal parts terrified and exuberant. As the only son of a member of the Servants Guild, he has never known glory or wealth. Just setting foot into the inner city and all it’s riches and nobility gives him an uneasy feeling, no matter that his best friend is a part of that shiny and glittering world. Zed has looked forward to the day he would be sorted into a guild of his own for years, and not just because it would mean he’s finally growing up into a man and a fair contributor to his household, but because the day held hope. Real hope for something better for himself and for his mother. Real hope for a true sense of belonging.
Growing up without a father, Zed also grew up with a lot of questions. Half-mortal and half-elven and with no one around to help nurture the otherworldly side of him, Zed spent years wondering about the father he never knew who spent his time living outside the city gates in the elven land of Llethanyl. It used to be that the elves frequented the city of Freestone regularly, along with pilgrims from other lands and merchants from the sea. The great lands of far and wide used to mix and mingle, but that was before the Dangers. Elves had not set foot in the city of Freestone in more than 12 years; not since Zed’s mother and father had met and fallen in love.
Sitting in the back of his mind like a fox full of avid curiosity was the one thought that plagued him — Zed wondered if he might be special. If he might have a place in the guilds other than as a servant. If, perhaps . . . he was full of magic, mystery, and the wonders of mana. Full of all the mystical properties that seemed to call to him like the song of a siren.
Brock is Zed’s best friend, regardless of the fact that they come from two different worlds. The son of a successful merchant who helps to cultivate the sales and progression of Freestone’s carefully curated marketplace, Brock has always known his lot in life — to carry on in his father’s illustrious footsteps. And this fate doesn’t bring with it anything other than a quiet peace and contentment for the boy . . . he is fascinated by the inner workings of the vendors and their magical prowess, and his mind works the way a banker’s should — full of figures and facts. But unfortunately for Brock, all it takes is one exchange with his father and the head of the Merchants Guild, Lord Quilby, and all of Brock’s dreams for the future are tainted like a slash of red across the purely driven snow. Instead of carrying in the family business, Brock is being drafted as a spy . . . and set on a mission to uncover the secrets of the mysterious Adventurers Guild.
The Adventurers Guild has long since been the first line of defense against the Dangers of the world outside the wooden gates that serve as protection from the wild. It’s also notoriously known as a haven for the blackguards, outcasts, rebels, and the general bottom of the barrel of Freestone’s inhabitants. They must accept any who asks to pledge their service, and they also have privileges that no other guild has — they can veritably poach anyone they want, from any guild they have already been sorted into, and they have their sights set on the young half-elven boy who has just found himself in the most advantageous and thrilling position of his young life.
Being swept away from his dreams isn’t easy, and Zed is even more surprised when his best friend Brock joins his ranks in the Adventurers Guild. Led by the impossibly crass and devastatingly wretched Alabasel Frond, the two boys find themselves wrapped up in capers and adventures beyond their wildest estimations, and beyond their physical capabilities most of the time. When they are tasked with the challenge of retrieving a priceless gem hidden deep within the walls of an abandoned and ancient elven temple, Zed and Brock must call upon every ounce of their faith and brains, while taking a blind leap into the great unknown with only the promise of glory to soften their fall.
The Adventurers Guild is the debut novel by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos; both New Yorkers and purveyors of the fantasy-driven Dungeons and Dragons. The novel pulls heavily from the fantasy world, leaning on tried-and-true characters such as elves and magicians, and creating a treasure-hunting quest for the heroes by standards that would make Frodo and Sam proud. The characters are richly imagined and unique in the sense that there are just as many female characters as there are male; Alabasel Frond is in fact the head of the Adventurers Guild and a worthy adversary, and the heroes can’t seem to get along without their female companion Liza, who has Hermione Granger’s wit and Arya Stark’s imposing skill on the battlefield.
The first in a series that is sure to captivate the mid-grade reader’s minds and attitudes, The Adventurers Guild has earned a solid 5 out of 5 stars from me. There are few things I like more in a book than magic, and this novel has it in spades. From the illusionary woman who sells bewitched tokens in her tent to the frightfully delightful blob of a demon sloshing his (or I guess, her?) way around a temple forbidden to humans, The Adventurers Guild gave me all I craved for in a freshly new way. I recommend this book to readers 10+ and hope you’ll enjoy this world full of sorcery and swords as much as I did.