About the Book:
Title: THE ADVENTURER’S GUILD
Author: Zack Loran Clark & Nick Eliopulos
Pub. Date: October 3, 2017
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD, Goodreads
Few ever asked to join the Adventurers Guild . . . Their members often died young.
In one of the last cities standing after the world fell to monsters, best friends Zed Kagari and Brock Dunderfel have high hopes for the future. Zed desperately wishes to join the ranks of the Mages Guild, where his status as Freestone’s only half elf might finally be an asset. Brock, the roguishly charming son of merchants, is confident he’ll be welcomed into the ranks of the Merchants Guild.
But just as it seems the boys’ dreams have come true, their lives take a startling turn . . . and they find themselves members of the perilous Adventurers Guild.
Led by the fearsome Alabasel Frond, the guild acts as the last line of defense against the Dangers-hungry, unnatural beasts from otherworldly planes. And when the boys uncover a conspiracy that threatens all of Freestone, Zed, Brock, and their new allies-including Liza, a fierce noble, and Jett, a brave dwarf-must prove their worth once and for all.
This start of a thrilling new series by talented duo Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos is sure to be a hit with readers who like their fantasies clever and action-packed, with a dash of snark.
About Zack & Nick:
ZACK LORAN CLARK and NICK ELIOPULOS grew up in Florida and now live in New York. Best friends, they get together to play Dungeons & Dragons every week. Zack fervently hopes that magic is real; Nick desperately hopes that monsters are not. The Adventurers Guild is their first novel.
INSPIRATION & THE GUILDS
Zack: The world of The Adventurers Guild is inspired by classic fantasy roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, and of course what’s probably the most well-known fantasy setting in literature, the Lord of the Rings books. Nick and I wanted to write a series that was full of magic, elves, dwarves, and monsters, but we also wanted to give it a fresh spin. Which is how we got around to the central problem of Terryn: in this world, the monsters have won. The days of merry adventurers roaming the countryside in search of treasure are over. Years ago, just such a group failed to stop one of their own from ending the world, by accidentally summoning in a flood of otherworldly terrors.
TAG takes place in Freestone, one of only a handful of cities still left. Few people ever leave the safety of its walls anymore — the wilds outside are teeming with monsters — but glimpses of the world that was are still visible in the city’s culture. Its guild system was founded by four beloved Champions, each typifying one of the most recognizable “classes” of fantasy gaming: knights, wizards, clerics, and rogues. Those archetypes form the backbone of Freestone’s society.
Nick: The guild that gives our book its name occupies a unique space in Freestone precisely because it pulls together figures from each “class.” So whereas the Knights Guild is all fighters and the Mages Guild is full of wizards, the adventurers mix and match to form their ranks. In fact, Zack and I decided early on that it would be interesting if the rest of the town was a little bit resentful and suspicious of the AG. It’s a hardscrabble guild full of bizarre people who are only tolerated out of necessity, but the adventurers also enjoy a power unique among guilds: the draft.
That’s how our characters end up among them. It’s not something they want, not something they choose. And I think that’s an important aspect of worldbuilding for kids’ books! Kids tend to be very aware of just how little control they have over their own lives. Their struggle to gain independence — to assert control — is what growing up is all about. So we’ve got questions of power and autonomy and duty built right into the way our imaginary world functions.
MAGIC & MONSTERS
Zack: The magic in our setting was also influenced by fantasy gaming. One of the things I love most about the D&D universe is that there are so many different styles of spellcasting: scholarly wizards, faithful clerics, instinctive sorcerers. In TAG, most magic is drawn from two supernatural planes — the infernal plane of Fie, or the fairy plane of Fey — unless it’s inborn, as in Zed’s case. Where a spellcaster draws her power from greatly determines its shape; the brutal magic of Fie, for example, has long been illegal in Freestone.
But magic isn’t the only thing that comes from these strange environments. The planes are also where monsters come from. Including Fey and Fie, there are six unearthly dimensions beyond Terryn, the setting of the book. They each have their own fantasy inspirations, and their own deadly monsters.
Nick: That was a way for us to impose a sense of order on our own process as we were populating this world with monsters. We weren’t writing in creatures based on what felt cool. Well, okay, there was some of that! But by imagining these monsters had specific origins, it helped us establish how they might behave, where they might dwell, and how they might be defeated.
Nick: Setting monsters loose in Terryn served another function in our worldbuilding, too, by forcing us to think about how the ecology functions. Are the monsters eating one another out there? Are there any natural animals left? And what does that all mean for the economy of Freestone?
Here’s a specific example. When Zack wrote his first chapter, he invented Makiva, a mysterious mystic who crafts and sells wooden charms in Freestone’s market. And my first question was: Where does the wood come from? Is someone braving those monstrous wilds to chop down trees, or is there a source of lumber within Freestone, and if so, how does it get into the hands of an artisan? Those questions actually ended up forming a central plotline of the book, wherein we explore who controls the town’s resources . . . and the lengths they’ll go to retain that power.
So the short answer to how we approach worldbuilding might be: We approach it with geeky fervor and have fun with it. Then, as this imaginary world coalesces into something almost real, ideas for plot and character and theme develop pretty naturally. I’m sure some authors approach it in the other direction, but for us, it was first and foremost about creating a space we would be excited to explore together.
Zack: We hope you’re excited to explore it too!
3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE ADVENTURER’S GUILD, US Only.
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