My husband got me The Explorer’s Guild: A Passage to Shambhala for Christmas this year. It is an absolutely gorgeous hard cover book with a gold embossed cover. Leafing through, I was amazed to discover that the book was part novel and part comic book, filled with pictures and strips of action. I couldn’t wait to dig in!
Here’s the Excerpt from the Back Cover:
The golden age of adventure stories returns with this splendidly designed, action-packed, globe-trotting tale that combines the bravura storytelling of Kipling with the irresistible style of The Adventures of Tintin.
Behind the staid public rooms of an old world gentlemen’s club operates a more mysterious organization: The Explorers Guild, a clandestine group of adventurers who bravely journey to those places in which light gives way to shadow and reason is usurped by myth. The secrets they seek are hidden in mountain ranges and lost in deserts, buried in the ocean floor and lodged deep in polar ice. The aim of The Explorers Guild: to discover the mysteries that lie beyond the boundaries of the known world.
Set against the backdrop of World War I, with Western Civilization on the edge of calamity, the first installment in The Explorers Guild series, A Passage to Shambhala, concerns the Guild’s quest to find the golden city of Buddhist myth. The search will take them from the Polar North to the Mongolian deserts, through the underground canals of Asia to deep inside the Himalayas, before the fabled city finally divulges its secrets and the globe-spanning journey plays out to its startling conclusion.
I am very sad to say that I was sorely disappointed with this novel. I had to force myself to finish it and found the ending somewhat anticlimactic, leaving you thinking, “So what was the point?”
The book is set up as an explorer’s journal, skipping around from point of view to point of view, leaving you sometimes a bit bewildered as to where you actually are in the story. Towards the end of the book, the plot lines finally converge, clearing up much of the confusion, but it made the book very hard to get into. Also, the character development seemed somewhat lacking. You finally begin to feel like you’re getting to know the characters, have a feel for their personalities, and then the book abruptly ends. The book also seemed to throw around a lot of big names, historical parties of exploration, etc… Typically I love when books touch on historical points, but this novel made you feel as if it was name dropping, like a group of “good old boys” sitting around the table having a drink and trying to one up one another with stories of the old days. I think that might have sort of been what the author was going for, but it just got old and cluttered the already confused story line.
So, besides feeling lost for most of the book, there were some things that I definitely enjoyed about it. First, the mixture of graphic novel aspects to display scenes of dialogue was intriguing. The artwork wasn’t amazing by any means, but it was well designed overall and fun. The book itself was a piece of art, manufactured to look like an old journal with yellowed pages, ink smudged sketches, and so on. There were also aspects of the plot that were very intriguing and wholly unique to this novel, especially the artfully described exotic peoples and settings.
Overall, I would give this book three out of five stars. There were a lot of things I disliked about this book. It took FOREVER to finish, though the fact that it was almost 800 pages probably didn’t help that. There were also plenty of things I did really like. If you’re looking for an old fashioned explorer’s novel and don’t mind a hefty book, pick this one up!