Adventure books have accompanied several generations of readers in recent decades. Now, perhaps, they are a little further apart because this narrative genre has been superimposed by others, such as the fantastic, detective books, or even mystery or terror . Even war novels or cowboy novels may also contain aspects of adventure novels. Although these have some characteristics that determine them as an “adventure genre”.

The truth is that this type of book can cover a very broad typology and have characteristics shared with other genres; however, they should not be confused . So, we better know a little more about adventure books, as well as the most famous novels in the genre.

The adventure genre

Adventure books are a genre unto themselves, although there are some themes that they share with other genres. However, the most considered feature of the adventure genre is the importance of action in the plot. The action dominates all the elements of the narrative and the space, which is exotic or mysterious, is often given relevance . Sometimes there are historical components with a search for ancient objects or extreme trips, among them, in which it is also possible to meet monsters or huge and terrifying beings.

However, the characters or their psychological characterization usually remains in the background. The risk and the action will occupy most of the plot and the scenarios are diverse . There is almost no place for rest or reflection, neither for the protagonists, nor for the reader; although it is true that sometimes the characters reach a deeper point because they are in a search that is not only material, but also emotional.

The origin of this genre can be found in epic poetry with those heroes and mythical journeys of Antiquity . However, these stories have evolved a lot up to the present moment. First of all, there was an explosion in the 19th century, where we find all the classics of the genre, and before that, with the birth of the modern genre, in the 18th century we can find other authors. Today adventure novels do not have the same pull as decades ago, since the stories of the books have been surpassed by the power of attraction of the cinema and of the new technologies in the audiovisual format , perfect for the development of these amazing adventures.

The most famous adventure books

Robinson Crusoe (1719)

This great adventure novel that has become a classic over the centuries tells the story of a boy who, moved by disobedience to his father and his desire for adventure, embarks on an expedition by sea. Sailing becomes a passion for him and a way of life; however, the young Robinson Crusoe suffers a shipwreck and he becomes the only survivor. By twists of fate he arrives on a deserted island and will spend years in this place learning to survive in a wild place being completely alone .

Gulliver’s Travels (1726)

It is a satire of travel books, however, it is a story that contains adventure and fantasy at the same time; although the author also has a reflective and instructive intention about the human condition. The work is made up of four trips with unpronounceable and curious names such as “Voyage to Lilliput” (which is the best known), “Voyage to Brobdingnag”, “Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Glubbdubdrib, Luggnagg and Japan” and “Voyage to country of the Houyhnhnms. The adventures of Captain Gulliver have been read by young and old due to the fascination that surrounds them, but they have also been a vehicle for the ideas of its author and the distrust that the human race aroused in him due to its vices and shortcomings .

The Count of Monte Cristo (1846)

This is a well-rounded adventure story in which betrayal and revenge become main themes. In The Count of Monte Cristo the reader finds absolutely everything to remain captivated by the unfortunate story of his main character, Edmond Dantes . He was an upright and hard-working young man who aspired to marry his beloved Mercedes. But he falls for the betrayal of his best friend and is sentenced to an unjust confinement . In years of captivity he will have time to calculate the perfect revenge. The novel becomes an imaginary space where evil gives no respite and there is no room for honesty .

Moby Dick (1851)

Fate is decisive, and for Captain Ahab, in his obsession, there is only room for a single purpose, to find, hunt and kill the white whale , a huge animal turned monster in this story dotted with sea. It is a narrative that is transfigured into a reflective marine log where the long navigation culminates with the obvious and expected end. Moby Dick is a true epic novel of our time.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870)

It is one of the great works of the genre with a mythical character, the troubled Captain Nemo. Several boats go missing, so a group of experts from different disciplines sets out to catch what they believe to be a monster from the unknown depths of the ocean. Beyond giant squids and other creatures, Professor Pierre Aronnax, his assistant Conseil, and harpooner Ned Land, what they encounter is Captain Nemo and his amazing submarine, the Nautilus . Then the danger and the journey will take another turn.

Around the World in Eighty Days (1873)

This universal classic tells the milestone accomplished by Phileas Fogg, in the company of Jean Passepartout, his loyal servant . Mr. Fogg is a wealthy gentleman who is a member of the Reform Club. He is an extremely punctual man who is accustomed to carrying out all his actions with English precision. After making sure that there is a possibility of going around the world in a tight time frame, he decides to bet his money that he will manage to go around the world in 80 days. That is why this novel is, at the same time as an adventure book, a demonstration of how the human being has always sought to gain control of time and how he has achieved it thanks to the new advances in science and technology.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)

Set in a town along the Mississippi River during the American Civil War, this adventure novel of childhood and adolescence tells the life of a boy named Tom Sawyer from a youthful perspective and far from the understanding of adults.  Tom falls in love for the first time and makes plans with his friends for him with the candor and nobility typical of someone who is not yet spoiled by the mishaps and vileness of adult life.

Treasure Island (1882)

One of the adventure novels par excellence, Treasure Island contains all the elements that this class of books needs: dangers, pirates, villains, adventures, a ship and a spectacular treasure . Jim Hawkins turns his life upside down when a sailor arrives at his family’s inn and Jim gets hold of a map to an island that hides mysterious secrets and opportunities. He begins a sea expedition in a ship full of outlaws under the command of John Silver, a lame pirate, towards the coveted treasure.

King Solomon’s Mines (1885)

A good example of the obsessive behavior displayed by the white man to find the gold and precious stones that surround the black man in their natural habitat. This one, in his perplexity, does not quite understand this entrenched interest of the European man. On the other hand, the protagonist of the novel is atypical, because he is not so brave and not so young; and there are many obstacles that he finds to reach the promising mines that, moreover, are located on the African continent, which allows him to discover and explore this space and its inhabitants.

The Lord of the Rings (1954)

It is a fantastic epic adventure that was collected in a single book as a continuation of The Hobbit ; however, The Lord of the Rings is understood as an independent story, although linked to the common story. For its part, due to its length, it was decided to divide it into three volumes: The Fellowship of the Ring , The Two Towers , and The Return of the King . The novel has a special significance due to all the care and credible rigor within the fantastic that its author Tolkien contributed from the philological point of view.

The story begins with the innocent Frodo, a young hobbit who lives in the Shire, a bucolic town where everyone lives happily and away from all threats . Fate, however, has a crucial mission for him on which all the inhabitants of Middle-earth will depend, regardless of their condition or race. He must with the help of his friends and allies reach Mount Doom and destroy the One Ring before it annihilates them all. But the road will not be easy, the journey is dangerous, full of enemies, hostilities and uncertainty. And no one guarantees Frodo that he can return home.