Historical Adventure – February 7, 2018

The Southeastern Mass. Reader’s Advisory Roundtable (SE-RART) meets on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., at the Attleboro Public Library, 74 North Main Street, Attleboro to talk about Historical Adventure and continue our 2017-18 Action/Adventure genre study. There is no snow date scheduled.

The benchmark title for Historical Adventure is The Last Kingdom, a novel by Bernard Cornwell – first in the Saxon Stories series. Please choose another title from the Historical Adventure subgenre as your second title. (See suggestions of authors below.)

Even if you don’t get to read the entire book, please be prepared to talk briefly about each of them in terms of reader’s advisory appeal factors, as laid out by RA-guru Joyce Saricks:

  • Pacing (e.g. breakneck, unhurried, densely written)
  • Characterization (e.g. quirky, well developed, ensemble cast)
  • Plot/Storyline (e.g. action-oriented, sensual, domestic, sexually explicit)
  • Tone/Mood (e.g. gritty, heartwarming, political)
  • Style/Language (e.g. sophisticated, homespun, frank)
  • Frame/Setting (e.g. urban, rural, world-building, time-frame)

Again, don’t worry if you can’t finish your two novels in time for the meeting; if you need to, you can follow the “Read a Book in Ten Minutes” guidelines.

Short, additional readings for discussion at the February meeting will be emailed to registered participantsPlease register on the MLS Web site!

If you’re looking for ideas for your second title, we have put together a list of possibilities for Historical Adventure authors. Many of these suggestions come from The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 2nd. ed., by Joyce Saricks:


Michael Chabon (Gentlemen of the Road)
Bernard Cornwell (other than benchmark title)
Jeffrey Deaver (Garden of Beasts)
William Dietrich (Ethan Gage series)
Dorothy Dunnett (House of Niccolo or Lymond Chronicles series)
Ken Follett (Jackdaws)
W.E.B. Griffin (Men at War, The Corps, or The Brotherhood of War series)
Helen Hollick (Sea Witch Chronicles series)
Dewey Lambdin (Alan Lewrie series)
Louis L’Amour (The Walking Drum)
Patrick O’Brian (Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin series)
Arturo Perez-Reverte (Captain Alatriste series)
Wilbur Smith (Ancient Egypt series)
Julian Stockwin (Thomas Kidd series)

If you want to post information about your second title before the meeting, you can!






Adventure Genre Discussion – Dec. 7, 2017

The Southeastern Mass. Reader’s Advisory Roundtable (SE-RART) met Thursday, December 7, at the Thayer Public Library in Braintree to discuss the Adventure genre. The benchmark title was your choice of a novel by Clive Cussler. Many of us read Treasure, Sahara, or Raise the Titanic! – all novels featuring Cussler’s best-known manly hero, Dirk Pitt.

We talked about characteristics of the Adventure genre, in general, based on our supplemental readings:

  • Saricks, Joyce. The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 2nd ed. Chapter 2: Adventure, pp. 15–33
  • Saricks, Joyce. Getting Up to Speed in Adventure Fiction (NoveList)

We discussed key elements of adventure fiction:

  • Fast pace, often short time span
  • Story focused on action and life-and-death situations, often a mission, usually a happy ending with order restored (“Romance for men”)
  • Identifiable hero, likeable and extremely capable
  • Detailed settings, often foreign places, often include maps
  • Tone often dark, due to danger, but humor can lighten tone
  • Language usually colorful, often with military jargon, makes reader feel involved

“Cinematic is a term often applied to Adventure story lines…These are stories made for the big screen, with larger-than-life heroes on seemingly impossible missions, often striving for the ultimate goal of making the world safe, if not actually saving it through their efforts. As in Romance and Suspense, readers expect a happy ending.” – The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 2nd ed.

We talked about the Clive Cussler benchmark titles that we read and answered “yes” to most of these questions, except for the last one:

  • Did the book you chose have a one-word title?
  • Did the story have a hero on a mission?
  • How does Dirk Pitt set the standard for the typical Adventure hero?
  • Was the action in the book over-the-top?
  • Were there exotic locales, foreign countries?
  • Any female characters play an important role in the story?

Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt character was described by the group as having a strong moral code, natural leadership ability, and unerring intuition. Also very smart and brilliant at tactical maneuvers – always a step ahead of everyone else in figuring out what the enemy/villain will do next.

We also talked about book covers of adventure fiction and Maggie’s theory that blues and greens predominate, while warmer colors (red, orange, yellow) would indicate the book was geared more towards thriller readers.

Second titles have been posted; it’s OK to submit yours still, if you forgot! Second titles in the Adventure genre that we read and talked about in terms of reader’s advisory appeal factors – frame, tone, pacing, plot/storyline, characters – included the following:

Phantom by Ted Bell

Columbus Affair by Steve Berry

Origin by Dan Brown

The Bear by James O. Curwood

Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell

Altar of Eden by James Rollins

Missed the meeting? View the agenda which also lists additional RA resources we talked about.

Please register online for the Wed., February 7th meeting, 10am-12pm, at the Attleboro Public Library to talk about Historical Adventure. New members are always welcome to jump in at any point in the year.