DO YOU HAVE THE COURAGE, THE WITS, AND THE SKILL TO CLAIM A DRAGON'S HOARD? IF SO, APPLY WITHIN...
The sign is small, tucked into the corner of Mr. Clutter's bookshop window: "Adventurers Wanted, Apply Within." No one but fifteen-year old Alex Taylor even seems to notice it there. And for Alex, who has wished for a change in his life, it is an irresistible invitation.
Upon entering Mr. Clutter's shop, Alex is swept away on an incredible adventure to a faraway land filled with heroic warriors, mysterious elves, and hard-working dwarves.
Alex becomes the eighth man in a band of adventurers seeking the air of Slathbog the Red-an evil dragon with a legendary treasure. Along the way, Alex and his new friends must battle dangerous trolls and bandits, face undead wraiths, and seek the wisdom of the Oracle in her White Tower.
Alex's adventure takes him to distant and exotic lands where he learns about courage, integrity, honor, and, most importantly, friendship.
I get those advertising emails from Amazon telling me "since you read this book, we thought you would enjoy reading these." Then they give a short list of other books that besides being in the same Genre, I have no idea where they get the idea that I would at all be interested in them! Even so, I still take the 2 minutes to look at the titles. Well, am I glad I did! What a fantastic book. Now, I know that we only review books we really liked to ones we loved, but there are also degrees involved in that too. If I had to compare and re rate only 5 star books, this one would get 5 stars out of that list! This is going to be a series and I plan to read each and every one of them. Ok, so i suppose you'd like to know what was sooo good??
The book starts where Alex, who lives with his stepfather and stepbrother, goes for a stroll. He walks by Mr Clutter's book shop and sees a sign in the window that keeps changing its message every time Alex looks at it. It is a sign for "adventurers wanted" which draws Alex in. When he meets Mr. Clutter inside, he is told that he has been chosen to go on an "adventure." Everything happens so fast that between Mr. Cutter, an elf named Arconn and a dwarf named Thrang, Alex finds himself committed to going on this adventure in some far off magical land before he even really knows what is going on. Although they leave immediately (through a magical door in Mr Cutter's shop) whatever time passes while off on this adventure, if and when Alex returns home, it will be as though he never left. No time in his world will have passed.
Now Alex goes with the dwarf and elf and meets the rest the adventure's company that he will be traveling with. With Bragnest at the lead of the company, this had to be one of my favorite group of characters in a book yet. As a matter of fact, EVERY character that Alex and his company meet during their adventure was extremely well written and I enjoyed reading about all of them. I can honestly say that there was not one person at all that I did not find overly interesting and didn't feel like I knew them personally. The way that Forman developed the strong relationships within the company while still keeping the respect for their ranks was great as well.
The adventurer's all sign a contract before going outlining the rules and the agreements between the company. For instance, there are certain ways that treasures are to be split if they are found on the way to their final destination. That final destination by the way, happens to be the den of Slathbog, an enormous, vicious dragon that is feared throughout all the lands. With such a fear, comes a most massive treasure. One that many will dream of, but few will attempt to go after. That is the goal of this company, to defeat Slathbog, and return with his treasure.
There was just the right amount of magic throughout the book as well. Not only that, but most of it was original and very creative. What fascinated me was that each adventurer carried a "Magic Bag" with them. These bags played a big role in the story and oh how I wish I could own one! Each magic bag was basically a leather bag that was carried over the adventurer's shoulder. Each adventurer had a secret password that they would whisper into their bag. Only the adventurer himself and his heirs knows the password to each of their bags. When the password was whispered correctly into the bag, the person was transported into the bag, which was almost described i'd say like a little house. Each bag contained different rooms, from storage rooms to ice rooms to keep their food stored in the cold for long journeys, to a wonderful thought out treasure room. As the adventurer collected treasures and other items along the way, they were simply transported into the bag by the adventurer stating which room to put them in. The treasure room, a most amazing room, expands as more and more treasure is deposited into it, with no size limit. As you become a more experienced adventurer, you can purchase more unique add on rooms to your magic bag.
Another wonderful piece of magic was Alex's sword, "Moon Slayer". Made by Elves hundreds of years ago, the sword was very special. It choose Alex to be its owner. Not much of the swords history was revealed, but it was a legendary sword that contained special magic and it's previous owners were special and powerful. It had a certain glow to it that reminded the company of the glow of night, the glow of the moon. When in the hands of the right person, the one it chose to be it's master, it created a unity between the bearer and itself. A burning fire within Alex for victory formed when he and his sword met any enemy.
Here is a bit of how Alex's character develops throughout the book. When Alex first goes to buy his weapon with Andy, the second member of the company, Alex had to be "fitted" to see what type of weapon was suited for him. The shopsman told them that Alex was fitting for staff as one of the weapons he could choose. The staff was a weapon of a wizard. The sword, "Moonslayer", was a weapon suitable for a warrior. Forman's development of Alex's character is not only engaging, but exciting as well. Although Alex is not so confident that he is capable of becoming a great wizard and warrior, he never stops trying and continues to learn and gain knowledge throughout the adventure. He learns about all the different plants used to make potions the entire journey. Also, he studies books on magic and learns to work with magic more and more with the constant help of Arconn and others he meets along the journey. This magic and his warrior instincts along with "Moonslayer" has Alex defeating many enemies throughout the journey including a 3 legged giant troll, a group of bandits, and the wraiths, who are basically dark spirits that try to lure Alex to the "dark side" so to speak.
Another great aspect of the story is the different villages, kindoms, and places that the company travels through. Forman has done a marvelous job at creating so many little worlds, each giving you a full understanding of their customs and heritage.
Now, I will tell you that although I do not consider it a spoiler as I'm sure you would guess that Slathbog is defeated at the end, and his treasure is far greater than any had imagined. What I will not tell you is how he is defeated. Although a quick defeat, it was nothing short of a nail biter.
So many wonderful things packed in one book, there is many lessons as well. Honor is big in the book as well as trust and friendship. The bond that the company shares as well as the bonds that are formed with certain characters along the way are well created, truly strong, and will last for a very long time.
The very end of the book, when the adventure is finally over and it is time to go home (for now) holds a great twist. The very last page of the book throws a curveball to the reader leaving you speechless and wondering. There are promises from Forman of many more adventures to come. I believe book 2 is due out in the spring of 2010. There is no doubt that I will be pre ordering that one and re reading Slathbog's Gold in the days leading up to the release.
A fantastic read, I did not find myself bored at a single page. I would say that if you are interested in a great tale filled with action, adventure and one that is truly engaging every step of the way, please read this one. Although a fantasy, it was not complicated, yet very fulfilling. Id love to hear anyone's opinion who has read this.
I am trying to get a hold of Mark Forman to hopefully get him to allow us an interview for the site as well as discuss the story and future adventures with us. He is not easy to find, but I'm doing my best! Mark, if you are out there and read this, please find me!
For a peek at the official "Adventurers Wanted" site, click HERE.