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A Passage to Shambhala

(The Explorers Guild #1)

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  1,229 ratings  ·  294 reviews
The golden age of adventure stories returns with this splendidly designed, action-packed, globe-trotting tale that combines the bravura storytelling of Kipling with the irresistible style of The Adventures of Tintin.

Behind the staid public rooms of an old world gentlemen’s club operates a more mysterious organization: The Explorers Guild, a clandestine group of adventurers
Hardcover, 770 pages
Published October 20th 2015 by Atria Books
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Krisz I was wondering about this too, that's why I came to visit the book's page... It's been a while now, I guess there won't be a book 2.
Claire Quite probably. While there are minimal 'mature themes', the writing is dense and convoluted enough that I had to re-read quite a few sections. I bega…moreQuite probably. While there are minimal 'mature themes', the writing is dense and convoluted enough that I had to re-read quite a few sections. I began reading adult novels at 10, but nothing as weighty as this(less)

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Average rating 3.31  · 
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Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Let me start by telling you what this book is not. It is not a casual read; a book that you can pick up at odd moments and continue the story without really caring about it or the characters, as so many books are, nowadays.

No, this is a truly delicious book that demands your attention, that sucks you in from the first passage and doesn’t let you go until the last. The characters, the story, captivate you and make you want it all to continue. It’s not hyperbole to compare it with Kipling, Stevens
Dec 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
People will make comparisons to H. Rider Haggard and the Adventures of Tintin because those comparisons are helpful and accurate. People will evoke Kipling and Victorian adventure tales and the authors of this thing are hoping that you will do exactly that. But there's something more pressingly obvious that this review must address before moving on to the content of the book.

The corpus codex, if you will, the stuff of the book itself, the actual item you hold in your hands. If you are reading th
Quentin Wallace
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Sadly, this is the first book in recent memory I didn't finish. I just couldn't get through it. Still, there were pros and cons.

First, what I liked. I liked the book itself. The pages are browned to simulate antique paper, and I thought that was a nice touch. I also liked the format. Its part text and part graphic novel, and while I was leery at first, I don't think the format was what gave me trouble. Also, the book did manage to capture the flavor of the old time adventure writers, most notabl
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
It is really difficult to describe a book like The Explorers Guild. On the one hand, it's an adventure novel that somehow mashes Jules Verne, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling and Indiana Jones all into one. On the other, it's a graphic novel that somehow reminds me of The Adventures of Tin-Tin, despite not having a child detective nor a rascally dog. But, really, The Explorers Guild is really its own thing, which makes it difficult to review. I loved the narrator, who deigns to give you the inform ...more
Nick Scott
Nov 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
Yikes. This book was rough. I will say that the design here is fantastic, and the book is actually full of interesting characters, situations, and ideas.

But these things could not have been presented in a more dry, boring, bloated manner. This thing is a slog. It seems like for of 4 pages of actual plot of excitement, there are 80 pages of droning on about nothing important to the story (I am well aware that math probably doesn't actually work out, but you get my point).

I was desperate for Ogden
Nov 25, 2015 marked it as to-read
Kevin Costner is writing books now?!??!!?
Michelle Mullens
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Got to page 500 & saw almost 300 more to go. Couldn't do it. Intrigued by format & Kevin Costner. Burned!! Boring story. Characters and driveling plot not cohesive. Read the last chapter & felt a big "so what". Breaks from narrative to "graphic novel" make no sense. This is probably the 4th book in my whole life, I've not completed but I'm getting too old for crappy reading and want to start the new year with a new book. Sorry Kevin, I hope the movie version is better. ...more
Oct 17, 2015 rated it liked it
I love the idea of this book. It's beautiful, well done, and historical. However, the writing was just not interesting enough to convince me to stick around for that many pages.

For an adventure story, it wasn't very exciting.
Sarah B
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

I can understand why some people may find it difficult to switch back and forth, from reading a novel to a visual novel, then back again, but I loved it.
I enjoyed reading the novel portions of the book, with it's rich descriptions, but I also loved having the visual novel format for the conversations. I really appreciated being able to "watch" the action, so to speak, rather then being told it all.
I also loved the setting. I can understand why the writing's been compared to Kipling. I think if K
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
This was a book of incalculable ambition but it falls short of it's goal. I am a big fan of the prose/graphic novel style and the ideas involved were fascinating (the abbot is so obese he's been turned into an island!) however in the execution of this story the actual story itself gets lost. Who are we rooting for, what is the adventure about? I feel as though I've missed something vital that would pull this book together for me. If this had been chopped up (seemingly random things just happen f ...more
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed so many things about this book; the design is superb, the narrative voice is very proper and humorous, the characters each have their own identity and a genuine camaraderie, the artwork is simplistic yet extremely effective, and its usage to illustrate key moments is downright perfect. It's a 750+ page book but much of that is artwork; nevertheless it takes a bit of an investment, time-and-focus wise. But if you enjoy classic adventure tales like Treasure Island or 20,000 leagues under ...more
Nathan Smith
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I saw this for fifty percent off at Barnes and Noble and had to have it. It is a beautiful book. Normally, I don't buy a book based solely on its cover. The Explorers guild was an exception. It is not an easy read. It mirrors the style of old adventure books that were popular in the early 1920s and is written in an almost archaic style. It consists for traditional blocks of writing, but the story is also supplemented by comic book strips. The art in this book is as wonderful and intricate as the ...more
Ryan Hillis
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A great top notch adventure novel.
Benjamin Thomas
Imagine an epic tale that takes place mostly in 1917-18 amid the backdrop of World War I, about an imaginary group of clandestine adventurers from all walks of life but with the common goal of finding the legendary mystical Buddhist city of Shambhala. Imagine further that their various journeys, often undertaken separately from one another, take them from the arctic regions of the North Pole to the desert expanse of Mongolia and just about every shadowy place in between. And finally, imagine the ...more
Dec 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Originally posted on BlueAnteater

The short:  A lengthy, somewhat dense book that mostly captures the aesthetic of early 20th century literature but fails in the most important aspect: heart.

The long:

This book wasn't at all what I expected, and that's both a good and bad thing.

First, the physical aspects. It really is a gorgeous book. You open up the cover, and the gently aged appearance of the thin pages do look like a novel from the 1910s. And the illustrations, though sparse, are lush and old-
Tom LA
Oct 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I agree with the grievances shared here by other reviewers who gave this book 2 or 3 stars: its structure is a mess and many scenes are included (or dropped) seemingly with no reason at all. In short, the writing overall could have been much, much better. The visual style of the book is unique and beautiful, but I couldn’t get past the childish look of every character: with that disproportionately big head, everyone looks like a funny puppet. The tone of the book, meanwhile, is not juvenile or f ...more
Nostalgia Reader
Jun 07, 2018 marked it as dnf
So very, very long winded, and not any action in the first part. The combination of regular novel (for the narrating and backstory bits) and graphic novel (for the bits with the dialogue) was unique and I did enjoy the concept, but how the story was split up into these parts just didn't do it for me.
Mar 23, 2016 rated it liked it
“The future remains as closed as it ever was … and I am not sure the past is any less a mystery.”

A conscious throwback to the adventure tales of the likes of Verne, Burroughs, Kipling, and Haggard. Larger-than-life heroes and villains set upon a stage much like actual world history and geography to play out a great adventure. Even told, narrator and all, with a nineteenth century tone. There’s a reason we don’t write like that today. What’s starts as quaint, soon devolves into cute, and decays i
Therese Thompson
Jan 21, 2016 rated it liked it

This booked practically tossed me a rope to tow me in from its place on the library shelf. I’m a sucker for a good spine and cover design and the book just plain looked splendid! The old time type-face and mysterious illustrations, the inscription on the back cover addressing me as “Gentle Reader” and aged tone of the paper-they all called to me, as did the spine notation of Volume One, signifying more adventures to come! Cracking the booking, I found striking graphic illustrations interspersed
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Though it is long and takes some commitment of time, it is worth it. Baird and Costner have written a fully developed adventure story that keeps you guessing and at times nail-biting and yet they never vary the pace of the story from one of an elderly gentleman, sitting in the guild, sharing his tale with no regard to time. This goes against today's society of movie-goers and thrill-mongerers and yet it works beautifully. The story and its band of misfits made me laugh, cry, g ...more
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Indiana Jones fans, Victorian mystery lovers, treasure hunters, people who love the book S.
This is the first graphic novel that I have ever finished though I have started several others. I would give it some credit for being engaging enough to see me through a genre I wasn't certain of. I got this novel for Christmas from my husband after falling in love with the cover of the novel in Chapters.

This novel is a victorian style adventure story in the vein of Indiana Jones and other treasure hunting adventurers. I recently bought the board gamae Fortune and Glory and this reminded me of i
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
I wish that I liked this book as much as I wanted to. It wins some points for presentation, as the book itself is a nice thing to look at. The idea of creating a novel/graphic novel hybrid is also creative and interesting. However, I do not feel that the story was very good. First of all, I will admit that I am not a fan of sci-fi or fantasy and "The Explorer's Guild" has elements of both. Secondly, and I don't want to be too pedantic, but this book's complete disregard for history drove me batt ...more
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was gorgeous. It's reminiscent of old Tin Tin stories and I loved it. It's a great mix of traditional novel and graphic novel and perfectly well made. It dragged quite a bit, and should have been way less than its 750 pages, but I forgave it because of how much I liked looking at the book itself.
Kelly Sedinger
I loved this book! But I can see why a lot of people would hate it.

I'm not sure if this book is an homage or a pastiche...maybe it's a bit of both. But it looks back to stories like those Jules Verne spun, and it is written in much the same way, with prose that is dense and verbose (if not actually prolix). This is the type of book where each part (there are five parts) begins with a page like this (quoting directly):

of Five
Introduces a
alongside the

While t
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
As with many books thick enough to serve as masonry units, The Explorer’s Guild is slow to start and all too easy to set aside for more appealing distractions – and this despite the fact that the book is part graphic novel. Where there’s a case to stick with for the first few hundred pages or so, it lies in Rick Ross’ clean artwork and, most of all, Jon Baird’s beautifully crafted writing mannered after the style of Victorian/early 20th Century. Unlike Susanna Clarke’s clever but twee pastiche o ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This will probably be a long and rambling review. I'm sorry.

This book is a lot of things. An action adventure reminiscent of Indiana Jones. A graphic novel with beautiful illustrations. A mystery. A piece of art. It's hard to pick just one.

There are few books out there that I care to have the physical copy of. My house is vomiting books. It's ridiculous. I have them everywhere. Collected over the course of a lifetime because, you know, we didn't always have ebooks, and I only hopped on the Kind
Olivia Ambrose
Jul 13, 2018 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Sorry, I usually like to give books more of a chance than this, and the art is beautiful, but this book is way too pretentious for me. I'm not sitting through nearly 800 pages of "And as the Near-East salaams to the tents and pavilions of her Indian guests, as the sentries challenge a young rider on the Basra Road, we find Lieutenant-General Sir John Nixon, our red-phized John Bull, commander of the Company armies in the theatre, behaving preciously as he would at this hour in his club in Madras ...more
Austin Storm
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
An incredible labor of love. It's not a pastiche of adventure stories, it's the genuine article. Like H. R. Haggard and similar. The writing is tremendous, it does lose some momentum around page 500 but saves some of its best moments for the last 3rd. I wish there would be more volumes, but I can't imagine such a work (which took 4 years and many, many co-authors and artists) succeeding well enough to warrant another. Nor can I quite imagine it on the screen without significant changes. But I'm ...more
Sean Harding
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Stylistically beautiful, but the plot didn't always hold my interest. Quite long as well.
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it

I had low expectations for this book. It's got a 3.3 average rating on GoodReads, for goodness's sake. And then there's the Kevin Costner of it all.

But I also wanted it to be good. So much about this book seemed aimed squarely at my interests—the art direction making it a wholly immersive experience, with a beautiful, unified cover and dust jacket, the pages yellowed to seem like a 19th-century tome; the multimedia use of prose and comics together; the very premise of explorers and secret soc
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