Friday, October 19, 2012

The Best Adventure Novels Of All Time

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By Lakisha Barton

Quite a large number of those books considered amongst the greatest ever written belong in the genre of adventure. It's here where the reader is promised thrills and spills. In the best adventure novels, however, they also get emotion, character depth and vivid, poetic prose. Here is a rundown of a few books which sit amongst the best loved, most read and most exciting examples the form has taken in history.

"The Plumed Serpent" (D. H. Lawrence, 1926). Lawrence was rarely far from controversy and this rip-roaring, madcap look at a religious revolution in Mexico jumped headlong into several troublesome issues. It also provided a great plot and a brilliantly woven adventure narrative. Like or loath him, there are very few people who would ever describe D. H. Lawrence as boring and this is no exception.

"Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift. The Irish clergyman Jonathan Swift wrote his magical tale of a shipwrecked sailor's adventures in far and distant lands as a satirical broadside against what he viewed as the worst excesses of humanity. Chief amongst his targets were the warring Catholics and Protestants of his native land, power hungry politicians and bigots everywhere. It's also a rattling good read.

Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". Conrad's 1899 classic details the adventure of steamboat captain Marlowe as he take his boat down the Belgian Congo in search of missing agent Mr. Kurtz. On the way he will encounter danger and beauty. By the end he will begin to question the moral certainties which he has long held firm in his colonial, Western mind.

Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days". Jules Verne committed many of the great adventure stories to print and, to be truthful, he could have had more than one entry on this list. This 1873 novel, however, is generally cited as his best. It follows the attempted circumnavigation of our globe by English gent Phileas Fogg, spurred by a wager in The Reform Club of London and is amongst the most influential pieces of storytelling in history.

"The Hobbit" (J. R. R. Tolkien, 1937. )Though its author is most famous for penning the Lord of the Rings novels, they are preceded by this wonderful little novel. Mixing humor with thrilling action, terrifying monsters with poetic prose, "The Hobbit" is perhaps the blueprint for all adventure fantasy that came after it. Plus it's the first print appearance of the world's most beloved wizard, Gandalf.

Jack London's "The Call of the Wild". London's 1903 story of Buck, a sled dog in the wild, frozen Klondike, remains as potent a piece of fiction as it was on publication. A story of returning to primitivism and cruelty in a harsh landscape some parts are still hard to take. Yet it is gloriously written with beautiful use of symbolism and metaphor.

"The Old Man and the Sea" Ernest Hemingway. Few books sum up the lonely, romantic figure of the adventurer like Hemingway's famous novella. It is the story of an old fisherman who knows he has hooked his catch but lacks the strength to reel it in. A story of bitter-sweet determination and desire, it is easily amongst the best adventure novels.

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