The Adventurer's Guild
by Brian S. Pratt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Adventurer's Guild / 294-0-000-69109-0
When I was a kid, my favorite computer game (and, indeed, the first one I remember playing outside of "Colossal Cave") was Sierra's "Quest for Glory". The game placed the player into the boots of a young Fighter/Mage/Thief who had traveled to a small cursed town in the mountains in hopes of lifting the curse and becoming an honest-to-goodness hero. In true Sierra fashion, the game was as humorous as it was engaging - your player-character was frequently referred to as being a proud graduate of the "Famous Adventurers' Correspondence School for Heroes".
With all this in mind, I can hardly help but enjoy "The Adventurer's Guild" from fresh author Brian Pratt. "The Adventurer's Guild" follows the adventures of two young boys, fresh from the farm, who dearly want to join the local and famous guild for fighters, mages, and thieves, but are vexed by their complete lack of experience, money, or connections that would provide them with an entrance to this exclusive and important club. The two boys spring at what seems like wonderful fortune when a local adventurer is willing to take them on an adventure and allow them to earn a good word with the guild, but they're about to learn that real adventures are more dangerous than romantic bards' tales often let on.
Pratt's writing and setup really shine - he's taken the "usual" fantasy setting of so many D&D adventures and has provided an amusing undertone to the world that reminds me so strongly of the tongue-in-cheek Sierra humor that I like so much. I flat-out guffawed when a smith in the first chapters complains that all fresh farm boys want swords (as opposed to the perfectly good maces he keeps unused in the back room) and the reader can't help but enjoy the verbal dressing-down the boys suffer at the hands of the Guild guard. Later, when the adventure develops, Pratt is able to perfectly spin an exploratory tale that is both visceral and visual - the reader always feels actually there, seeing the traps, feeling the poisons, and suffering with the characters. Pleasingly, character development is fairly solid, with Charka, Kate, and Seward standing out as nicely three-dimensional characters, which helps to round out some of the two-dimensional qualities of the two main characters.
To be fair, "The Adventurer's Guild" isn't perfect. As engaging and fresh as the writing is, the narrative flow does get broken occasionally to provide 'relevant' backstory that the reader will often not deem worthy of the interruption (such as a quick explanation of why a character is used to cold baths whilst swimming tensely through a dangerous swamp). And at least one character, Reneeke, comes strongly across as an author surrogate - always kind, wise, patient, clever, strong, gentle, and well-spoken, despite his rough upbringing on a farm, his supposed reticence to be an adventurer, and the fact that he really should have gotten fed up with his friend Jaikus by now. Indeed, I felt myself wishing for a little more balance between the two - with greater strength and courage from Jaikus and with a little less hyper-competence from Reneeke.
None of these flaws, however, detract from the fact that "The Adventurer's Guild" flows smoothly, and provides a fun and engaging "adventure game" type narrative for the reader. And while my impressions almost certainly stem in part from my nostalgia, I was truly pleased with the guilty pleasure that "The Adventurer's Guild" provided, for I was definitely transported back to my youth. Although I would absolutely love to see a revised second edition to tighten the writing, I still recommend this edition of "The Adventurer's Guild", and I definitely look forward to reading more of the adventures of Jaikus and Reneeke.
~ Ana Mardoll
View all my reviews