A fantasy adventure filled with heart and humor, The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson introduces a charming cast of characters and sets the stage for many more hijinks to come.
The world is not a fair place, and Colm Candorly knows it. While his parents and eight sisters seem content living on a lowly cobbler’s earnings, Colm can’t help but feel that everyone has the right to a more comfortable life. It’s just a question of how far you’re willing to go to get it.
In an effort to help make ends meet, Colm uses his natural gift for pickpocketing to pilfer a pile of gold from the richer residents of town, but his actions place him at the mercy of a mysterious man named Finn Argos, a gilded-toothed, smooth-tongued rogue who gives Colm a choice: he can be punished for his thievery, or he can become a member of Thwodin’s Legions, a guild of dungeoneers who take what they want and live as they will. Colm soon finds himself part of a family of warriors, mages, and hunters, learning to work together in their quest for endless treasure. But not all families are perfect, and even as Colm hones his skills with fellow recruits, it becomes clear that something from outside threatens the dungeoneers–and perhaps something from inside as well.
Indeed, Thwodin’s Castle is reminiscent of a more criminally-minded Hogwarts — wherein students learn “dungeoneering” — that is, how to raid dungeons for gold and other assorted treasure. And while Colm focuses his lessons on being a “rogue,” his fellow students study the likes of magic, hunting, and more. Not so noble as the school for witchcraft and wizardry, but certainly filled with colorful teachers and dangerous situations.
The story is quite slow to unfold — and this is, perhaps, I think where my adult taste kept me from fully enjoying this book as much as a younger reader would — with lots of time spent developing characters, establishing the world, and following Colm and his friends as they learn the ropes at Thowdin’s Castle.
That said, the action really does pick up towards the end — and shows promise for more adventures for Colm and his friends in possible future books in the series. And these characters are what really make The Dunegoneers so delightful — they give the story meaning, purpose, and heart.
Look for The Dungeoneers in stores June 23rd.