***LADIES AND GENTS... TLGBRS IS PROUD TO PRESENT WHAT WE COINED AS A "TRIPLE THREAT"- REVIEW, INTERVIEW, AND CONTEST of M.L. FORMAN'S "ADVENTURERS WANTED- SLATHBOG'S GOLD"***
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.
TLGBRS- Mark, "Adventurers Wanted, Slathbog's Gold" was a fantastic book. Where did you come up with the idea for the story?
MLF- When I started writing Slathbog’s Gold I was unemployed and looking for work. While I was looking through the help wanted adds I started to think about jobs you would never find in a newspaper or online. How cool would it be to find a job that let you go on an adventure? Alex wasn’t looking for a job at the time, but the sign in the window was a magical kind of help wanted sign.
TLGBRS- "Adventurers Wanted" is slated to be a series. I can definitely envision this becoming a multi-book series with many different adventures. Currently, do you have a goal for how many books you would like to include in the series or is it really up in the air at this point?
MLF- The number of books in the series is up in the air right now. Mostly it will depend on how many the publisher is willing to put out. Currently I’m finishing up some changes in book two of the series, and books three, four, and five are in various states of completion. As long as people enjoy reading the stories, and as long as I can get someone to publish them, I’ll keep writing.
TLGBRS- Follow up to #2...Although each book in the series will probably contain a different adventure, would it be safe to say that throughout the series, the adventures will revolve around Alex Taylor, the main character, and will follow him through maturing to become a great wizard/warrior?
MLF- Alex is the main character in the stories I’ve worked on so far. I’ve left this open so other characters can be created and have adventures of their own. Alex may or may not be an important part of future stories, but for now he is the main character.
TLGBRS- When you write a new adventure, do you have the adventure pretty much mapped out in your mind and sort of fill in the blanks or do you just start an adventure and see where your writing takes you?
MLF- Most of the adventures start with the main idea or the title of the story. I know what the goal of the adventure will be but not much more. I’ve tried mapping stories out from start to finish, but that doesn’t work for me. The stories take on lives of their own as I write them, and so I try not to force them down a set path.
TLGBRS- Can you tell us anything at all regarding your next book in the series "The Horn of Moran" due out in the spring of 2010?
MLF- That’s a tough one. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that some of the old faces will be back. I couldn’t send Alex off on his second adventure without a few of his friends.
Alex and his friends are sent to recover the Horn of Moran, a magical horn that will only sound for the true king. There are questions about who should be the King of Athanor, and if the horn is not returned soon there will be war. It’s a race against time, and time is running out.
TLGBRS- I'm sure you get questions about this all the time, but the adventurers all carry a "magic bag", which is very important and symbolic in the book. This has been one of, if not the most creative tools/accessories any character has ever had in all the books I have read. How on earth did you come up with that one? Also, for those who have not read your book yet, give them a brief description of what a "magic bag" is.
MLF- The idea for the magic bag came mostly because I needed a way for the adventurers to carry all their gear, food, and treasure without taking a lot of extra help along. It was a simple solution to a giant problem, and I’m happy that it worked out so well.
For those who haven’t read the story, magic bags look something like a small postman’s bag made out of leather. They are easily carried over the shoulder, and if you look inside it the bag will be empty. For the adventurer who owns the bag, the inside of the bag can have as many rooms as he can afford to put in it. Magic allows the inside of the bag to be much larger than the outside, so adventurers can carry almost anything they need with them in a very small space.
TLGBRS- At the very end of "Slathbog's Gold", there is a HUGE twist to the story that I don't think anyone who has read it was expecting. Based upon that twist, will any of the books in the series possibly take us back to an adventure or a time that occurred before Alex's time?
MLF- I’ve thought about going back in time for an adventure or maybe several adventures, but I haven’t done any work on a story like that yet. I’ve also given some thought to writing some short stories that would help fill in the past, but nothing solid yet.
TLGBRS- Mark, do you have any plans or thoughts about either a stand alone novel or perhaps a different series that you are either working on or thinking about?
MLF- I have a few different projects in the works. I’ve mostly finished a story called, “Seeds of Power,” which will be the first book in a trilogy. I plan on editing that as fall moves on, and I will hopefully have it off to a publisher by the end of the year. I’ve also been working on another story that I hope will become a series, but it’s not too far along yet.
TLGBRS- Tell us something that nobody has asked you before. Something unique about yourself that you would like to share with everyone who reads this interview.
MLF- Can’t do that… Writers and wizards should always keep some secrets, and so I’m keeping that secret. ;-p
TLGBRS- What would you, Mark L Forman, author of "Adventurers Wanted, Slathbog's Gold" do for a Klondike Bar???
MLF- I’d wrestle a three legged troll for a Klondike Bar.
Thanks Mark for the interview! I LOVED Slathbog's Gold... As a matter of fact, I had reviewed this earlier on in our site, but wanted to do it again to re introduce it to our newer fans! Also, thank you for the donations to our CONTEST, which is coming up NOW!
So, You guys like CONTESTS and GIVEAWAYS, do ya??
Well, Mark has been awesome enough to offer up to our gracious fans 1 signed copy of "Adventurers Wanted- Slathbog's Gold" AS WELL AS an audio copy for another lucky winner! So, we will have 2 winners! The Contest will run until 11:59pm EST on Saturday December 19th!
Here's what you can do to get entries:
**FIRST**- our # 1 Rule... YOU MUST BE A FOLLOWER OF THE SITE TO BE ELIGIBLE TO WIN! There will be no exceptions. A follower is defined only as someone who goes to the right sidebar of our site, clicks "Follow" under "Followers" and registers to follow our site. Not Facebook, Not Twitter, and Not by Email. It is very simple... we will click on your name if you are a winner, and if we see our site as one that you follow, you win, if we do not see our site as one you follow, we pick another winner. We are very easy going here at TLGBRS, but can not stress enough how many times we have to remind people to follow our site to be eligible. This contest, no reminders. Sorry for sounding firm, but as many times as we remind people, it seems some people still do not want to listen, and the craziest part is... why wouldn't you??
OK, THE ENTRIES:
You MUST comment on the review and interview AND you MUST leave your email address!
+2 For Existing Followers (membership has it's benefits)
+1 For a New Follower
+1 For a New Follower
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+3 If you give the contest it's own POST on your blog site
+5 FOR EACH PERSON THAT JOINS AS A NEW FOLLOWER, ENTERS THE CONTEST, AND SAYS THAT YOU SENT THEM (I will add the +5 for you in a comment after I see the entry!)
+10 extra entries to anyone who brings us **at least 5 NEW FOLLOWERS for this contest** (Again, we will add the +10 once we confirm that the new people you sent are indeed followers!)
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