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The Illyrian Adventure (Vesper Holly #1)
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The Illyrian Adventure (Vesper Holly #1)

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  1,471 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
It's 1872, and adventurous Vesper Holly and her guardian set out for the tiny country of Illyria, on a quest for its legendary treasure. But once Vesper and Brinnie arrive, they are plunged into a fierce struggle between rebel forces— and someone is out to kill the two of them! If anyone can triumph over those kind of odds, it's Vesper — one of Lloyd Alexander's most intre ...more
Paperback, 132 pages
Published June 1st 1990 by Dell Yearling (first published January 1st 1986)
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Madeline
A few weeks ago, a coworker and I were chatting about books that we had loved as kids, and during the conversation, I realized just how many gaps there are in my classic children's lit knowledge. Up until roughly age sixteen, it was my firm belief that there was no point in reading a new book when you could just re-read a favorite book again. For this reason, I read all of the books in the Chronicles of Prydain series multiple times but never picked up anything by Tamora Pierce or CS Lewis, and ...more
Noel
Mar 28, 2009 Noel rated it it was ok
Shelves: feminist, childrens, 2009
Call me hard to please, but for a book that's touted as inspiring for young girls, I found a lot to be desired in "The Illyrian Adventure."

It's narrated by Vesper's guardian- why not write the book from her perspective? That would have been a lot more interesting. Throughout the book, I felt like I never really got to know the girl who was supposed to be the heroine. The removal from her subjectivity says, to me, that the author couldn't really get inside her head and maybe didn't really even u
...more
Meredith
Jun 06, 2016 Meredith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vesper Holly is pretty much a mixture of Sherlock Holmes (though she plays a banjo instead of a violin) and Indiana Jones. She also made me think very much of Sybil Vimes, nee Ramkin, from Discworld. I had the silliest grin on my face pretty much the entire time that I read. Since they're narrated by her guardian that adds to the Sherlock Holmes feel.

This particular plot was a great one as well. Vesper's father has just died after writing to her that one of his bizarre pet history theories might
...more
Elevetha
Aug 15, 2012 Elevetha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pretty much anyone
Recommended to Elevetha by: Miss Clark + Biblia Fyle
Vesper Holly, a headstrong, witty heroine, sets out with her guardian for Illyria, a tiny country in the middle of no one knows quite where, on a quest to prove her late father's theories about the country. Rebel forces, heat, assassins, treasure, conspiracy, a quest, and villainous villainy. Action-packed. Never a dull moment. Fantastic narration by loyal uncle-like Brinnie. Wonderful writing. Characterization is very well-done. Recommended.

Abby
Oct 07, 2014 Abby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good fantasy\adventure book. Remembers of Narnia sort of....and like adventures. Hard to explain!
Laura Verret
Meet Vesper Holly!

The Story.

I had never met the daughter of my dear departed colleague, Dr. Benjamin Rittenhouse Holly who, in dying while on an exploratory expedition to the Greek island of Mykonos, had left me executor of his will and guardian of his child. I had vaguely pictured this girl, Vesper, as a small, pallid, retiring little girl.

What I encountered was a tall, sharp-witted, and extremely persuasive young lady with marmalade hair and a penchant for adventures. Why, consider this as an
...more
Joseph Rizzo
Dec 22, 2013 Joseph Rizzo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely love the Prydain Chronicles and it dawned on me that I have never given enough attention to Lloyd Alexader's other writings. The only book I had read outside of them before now was the Iron Ring. I'm embarking on a quest to read the rest, or at least the majority of them over time.

The heroine of this series is Vesper Holly, who along with her Uncle, Professor Garret, set out on a Journey to Illyria to take up her father's research.

This is a good start to a series, a grand adventur
...more
Jacob
Jan 05, 2016 Jacob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice short diversion! This reminds me of a number of adventure stories I read when I was young and no longer remember individually. They take place in the early 1900's, involve expeditions to wondrous places, and the writing is often an older style. This one includes a dry wit by the narrator, who is also a terrible judge of character. This is youth oriented, so the fact that the plot twists can be seen a mile away is less egregious. It's one of those where you just have to enjoy seeing them c ...more
Emily
Jun 21, 2014 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you had to create a list of traits that would describe the ultimate strong teen female character, you'd be describing Holly Vesper. Is there anything she can't do?

Pros: Story takes place in exotic fictional North African country with interesting ethnic factions, cool legends/myths collide with real life

Cons: Even though narrator is a bumbling old dude, at least he's human--unlike the Goddess of Spunky Tenacity, Holly Vesper. I don't buy the romance (not with the narrator).
Kelly
Jul 12, 2015 Kelly rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
I was totally on board with the idea of a super-smart, super-capable teen girl adventurer in the 19th century (and she has red hair of course, because this is Lloyd Alexander). This was just okay, not great. Still love the Indiana Jones-style cover art.
Vendela
Tons of fun!
Rid
For a children book, it's quite entertaining. I have fondness for charming and witty heroine anyway, and this book deliver them.
Kate
Jan 08, 2017 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
reread in 2014; not as good as I remembered, alas.
Yvonne
Funny, witty, interesting.
Christina
A version of this review appeared on my blog, drinkingandink.

Popsugar 2016 Reading Challenge: A book you haven't read since high school.

This item on the reading challenge gave me a bit of a Moment. I didn't go to high school. The only way I could possibly fulfill it would be if I managed to find a Driver's Ed manual, because that was the only book I ever read "when I was in high school." And who wants to read a Driver's Ed manual, even the first time?

Then I lightened up and decided to just go ah
...more
Marty
Aug 16, 2011 Marty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lloyd Alexander easily surpasses any other young adult novelist that I’ve read in a long time. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve been a young adult, but I have read some young adult novelists since then, and I stand by my statement. Plus, among his many talents, he is particularly adept at strong female protagonists. It is no surprise that he finally wrote a series that stars one such protagonist, and Vesper Holly more than matches expectations. In true, efficient, Lloyd Alexander style, he ...more
Karen
Sep 17, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun read. I enjoyed the tone of the book and the adventure it set forth.

Content: Clean - some violence mentioned
Dennis
May 27, 2013 Dennis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain as a child but I do not know how this book ended up in my collection. I must have read about it somewhere in order to pick it up in a bookstore when I came across it. The main character is a young sixteen year old orphan girl called Vesper Holly, who sets off on an adventure with her guardian uncle Brinnie, who is also the narrator of the story. It takes place in Illyria, just like William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and it even hin ...more
Althea Ann
A short, quick teen adventure from Alexander. Fun, but light, and not as good as the other book I've read from Alexander recently (The Rope Trick). "Illyria" is an old name for the area that now includes Croatia, where I was this spring (and which I'm still editing/uploading my photos from!), but I have to say i didn't get a very specific sense of place from the book. It's more of a fantasy-feeling country, although it's a historical adventure, not a fantasy one. Set in the 19th century, it has ...more
Constance
A charming book for many reasons, including that it is narrated by a grumpy old man, it is about revolution, and it features a no-nonsense young girl described in the first paragraph as follows:
"Miss Vesper Holly has the digestive talents of a goat and the mind of a chess master. She is familiar with half a dozen languages and can swear fluently in all of them. She understands the use of a slide rule but prefers doing calculations in her head. She does not hesitate to risk life and limb - mine a
...more
Elizabeth
Nov 23, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the entire Vesper Holly series -- or at least most of it, I can't quite remember -- around the time I was in 5th - 6th grade. I recall that I reread some of the books several times. They're swashbuckling adventures with a teenage Indiana Jones-like heroine and her guardian, who is the Watson to her Sherlock. I really enjoyed how the hero of this series is a girl who is sharp, reckless, and gutsy. I remember that these books were quick, easy reads in the sixth grade, and I reread this one ...more
Joshua Van Dereck
The Illyrian Adventure is a frolicsome little novel, at times silly, at times buoyant with enthusiasm. Taken by itself, it stands as a sweet, brief, Y/A story, of no especial depth, but amusing and well envisioned. In the context of Alexander's work, it's a bit unambitious. By this point in his career, Alexander was definitely recycling characters, and Vesper Holly has clear slices of Princess Eilonwy and Mickle rolled into her, shuffled only a touch. Moreover, compared to the gravity of The Bla ...more
Logan
Alexander described his main character, Vesper Holly, adventuress and general badass, this way: She has "the digestive talents of a goat and the mind of a chess master. She is familiar with half a dozen languages and can swear in all of them." How could we not want to read that? As expected, Logan loved the story, although sometimes he found Vesper annoyingly full of herself. Still, lots of adventure and humor and fortunately, there are a series of Vesper books! My own comment is that the covers ...more
Abigail
May 25, 2014 Abigail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: younger readers
Shelves: favorites
I read this while continuing Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain and the Westmark Trilogy. It was a battered old copy of my mother's that was interesting, but I'd never read it. I fell in love with it.

It's a tale for children, obviously, to be read in the golden light of childhood. Adults or even teens are pickier. But I've always loved Alexander's quips and witty dialogue. I would sit outside and just read Vesper Holly's lines throughout the whole book (Eilonwy's, too, but that's a differen
...more
Britt
Sep 29, 2015 Britt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Revisiting some old favorites from childhood is one of my personal favorite ways to break out of a reading slump. I adored this book as a 10-year-old, and 26-year-old me hasn't changed her mind. And I mean, what's not to love? Vesper Holly (possibly one of the greatest names in literary history, btw), is a teenage female Indiana Jones, minus the artifact theft. Brinnie is an amazingly hilarious narrator who messes literally everything up, but Vesper and I love him anyway. Fun, exciting MG advent ...more
Austen to Zafón
Alexander described his main character, Vesper Holly, adventuress and general badass, this way: She has "the digestive talents of a goat and the mind of a chess master. She is familiar with half a dozen languages and can swear in all of them." How could we not want to read that? As expected, my son loved the story. I must say that the covers on these editions are horrible. First of all, these stories take place in the late 1800s, but the covers look modern. Second, when my husband briefly glance ...more
RedSycamore
Mar 16, 2011 RedSycamore rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: elementary school children
Would give this 3.5 stars if possible. The story was enjoyable and the characters likable, especially Vesper as a young/female Indiana Jones, but they were also very simplistic even for a young adult book (the narrator was by far the weakest despite the fact that he was supposed to be Vesper's guardian - he reminded me alot of the bumbling idiot version of Watson that plagued all of Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes movies and served as little more than comic relief).

I appreciated that the anthro
...more
Sora
Nov 03, 2014 Sora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-year-2014
I read this series as a young child and I am re-reading them because I want to remember why I loved the books so much. Vesper is completely mature for her age and the type of heroine you want to be. She has a tendency to cut through the bullsh*t which is something I appreciated as a reader. In a lot of books, there are puzzling questions and struggles. In the Vesper Holly series, Vesper knows what she wants and she goes after it. She is fearless. She is fierce. She is triumphant. I still love re ...more
Whitney
Oct 23, 2012 Whitney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-12
Vesper Holly, the orphan of a well known archaeologist travels to exotic lands with her guardian and consequently taking on many extreme adventures. In this particular novel, they are seeking a treasure, and encounter villains who have it set to take away their lives.

I admit, this novel had little deep moral message. As I have stated before, it is Nancy Drew meets Sherlock Holmes meets Indiana Jones. It is a pure plot driven entertainment book. I was however, so attracted to Vesper. She is this
...more
pdarnold
I really wanted to like this, but can only give... it's OK. Perhaps the series will grow on me as it progresses, at least I hope. Vesper is a character I would love to get to know better, but she comes across as too unrealistic, too smart, everything comes too easily for her. There's a problem - Vesper has the answer. Then there is her guardian Brinnie, who seems more of a bumbling fool than guardian. I liked this tale enough to want to give it a chance with another book or two. The subject matt ...more
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Lloyd Chudley Alexander (January 30, 1924 - May 17, 2007) was an influential American author of more than forty books, mostly fantasy novels for children and adolescents, as well as several adult books. His most famous contribution to the field of children's literature is the fantasy series The Chronicles of Prydain. The concluding book of the series, The High King, was awarded the Newbery Medal i ...more
More about Lloyd Alexander...

Other Books in the Series

Vesper Holly (6 books)
  • The El Dorado Adventure (Vesper Holly #2)
  • The Drackenberg Adventure (Vesper Holly #3)
  • The Jedera Adventure (Vesper Holly #4)
  • The Philadelphia Adventure (Vesper Holly #5)
  • The Xanadu Adventure (Vesper Holly #6)

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“Miss Vesper Holly has the digestive talents of a goat and the mind of a chess master. She is familiar with half a dozen languages and can swear fluently in all of them. She understands the use of a slide rule but prefers doing calculations in her head. She does not hesitate to risk life and limb- mine as well as her own. No doubt she has other qualities as yet undiscovered. I hope not.” 21 likes
“The dear girl, I fear, may be contemplating some alarming, disruptive perhaps dangerous project. In which case, I would naturally do all in my power to keep her from any such rash or foolhardy enterprise – unless she wished me to accompany her.” 11 likes
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