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The Explorers Guild: Volume One: A Passage to Shambhala Hardcover – October 20, 2015
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"With its colorful cast, exotic locales, and intertwined fates, the book slowly addicts. A rousing throwback whose spinning plates never stop, even at the end.", Kirkus
"The Explorers Guild is a rare publishing opportunity, powered by the creative passion of one of the world’s true storytelling masters, Kevin Costner."
About the Author
Jon Baird is the author/illustrator of the novels Day Job and Songs from Nowhere Near the Heart. He is a co-developer, with Kevin Costner, of the Horizon miniseries.
Rick Ross is an artist and filmmaker whose first widely recognized work in graphic fiction was illustrating the Image Comics series Urban Monsters. He was the lead artist for the graphic novelization of Spike TV’s 1000 Ways to Die, and he has also created artwork for numerous animated motion comics, including for the Cinemax television series Femme Fatales. He publishes the online graphic fiction anthology Agitainment Comics.
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I know of no other living writer who can match Baird's artful command of the English language. His style in this book is about as dense as writing gets, and yet somehow remains essentially uncomplicated, fluid, and almost conversational. If you take the time to read the book carefully, look up the words and references, and actually understand what is written, you will bear witness to a thing of curious and enduring beauty. In reading it, I've been reminded of Dickens, Twain, Hemingway, and even David Foster Wallace. Which author comes to mind tends to depend on which of Baird's characters is being described. The prose, permeated throughout by Baird's muted wit, is fancy but also deft, elegant, and artfully cadenced. Every paragraph glints cryptically with splendid archaic terms and rich, rewarding veins of historical and literary reference. These veins, if followed, add great depth to the work. The tremendous vocabular breadth of the work feels endlessly inventive and keeps each page fresh.
This book, which is more mature than Baird's prior work, is definitely not for everyone. And I mean not for everyone in much the same way "Gravity's Rainbow" and "Infinite Jest" are not for everyone. While Baird doesn't refer to obscure mathematical notions like Pynchon does, or rely on hundreds of pages of footnotes like DFW, he does base some metaphors and allegories on some seriously obscure stuff -- e.g., "cackling like Holinshed's Witches." The narrative conceit of the work is that the story was written long ago -- i.e., a century or so ago. The style is therefore carefully tuned to read like an old book. If you enjoy reading John Grisham or Brad Meltzer or Tom Clancy, or Fifty Shades of Grey then this book is not for you. If you can handle Joyce or Faulkner or Kipling or Dickens, you'll probably have better luck.
If this book has one major flaw, it might be its failure to clearly target any specific genre or audience. Everyone likes to know what they are getting into and reactions to the book from those who have not read it tend to assume it is an "adventure book" and seem to immediately surmise that the book is for children or young adults. I think this is incorrect. The book is certainly tame enough for young readers. There are suggestions of sex and violence at times but you'll find more sex in Judy Blume and more violence in Harry Potter. In fact, one of the funny things about the book is how all the curse words have letters politely redacted to better reflect the Victorian/Georgian sensibilities of the time frame. The book is too complex for children, though. It's too complex for most adults, in fact. I don't consider the lack of a specific genre to be a flaw at all. On the contrary. This book is its own beast, irrespective of (or perhaps in opposition to) popular trends or genres. The book doesn't rely on sex or violence for its appeal. It packs all of the wonder and mystery of the best Sci Fi or Fantasy novel but is exceptionally well-written, and the strange words and names it refers to are mostly real and infinitely more meaningful. Some might fault this book for being esoteric. I do not. This book is important because it is unflinchingly eccentric and realized with great finesse and skill with no regard for markets or demographics. It is flowery and ornate without being ostentatious. It's countercultural. It's challenging. It may or may not be the book for you.
Yes, it was a different approach with the graphic book aspect, but to me it's always been about the story. And what a great story!!!
I'm not really good with words, and other reviewers have said it best, the prose, the old time feel etc.
I was hoping that I would see some recommendations of similar fare in these reviews, but alas not yet.
One more thing.....I hope the "Volume One" part of the title wasn't just wishful thinking on the authors' part
The quality of the pages and print made me stuck with the book longer than it deserved. The full-color pictures were nicely rendered. Although I appreciate the skill involved in the clearly rendered graphic panels, they didn’t deliver the same cinematic punch as most of the graphic novels I read.
I was really excited about this one but am not even sure I can put this book in my Little Free Library because of the “period appropriate” but completely tone-deaf sentiments and attitudes depicted.
Unfortunately a miss.
Top international reviews
The way adventure books should be presented.
I was supposed to be a throw back to tintin vs Jules Verne or kipling.
it has graphic novel element every couple pages which should have helped make it lighter.
the language is so floral its almost unreadable, and he has read the hobbit no problem.
i could not even follow it to read it to him and my last book was a neal stephenson book wich was easy in comparison.
no idea who the audience is. do not buy this for your kids.
.., I didn't understand where Baird and K. Were going with this story but the more u read on the more it cleats up. Not finish yet reading but I'm enjoying it.