Adventure novels are a genre within a genre. Many classic novels are adventures in their own right, while some are simply dramatic or lyrical. Adventure in a novel is a rare thing to find sometimes, as some stories can be weary and loaded and without that added quotient of literary adventure. Throughout its history, novels have found their way to the hearts of readers if they had a good element of adventure novels. The adventure is found in a spy novel, a detective novel, as well as in mythology and fantasy. It is a subgenre of literature.
In this special Sunday edition, Rising Kashmir sub-editor Irfan Mehraj lists some of the best adventure novels one can read as the harsh winter period is over in Kashmir. The novels in this list are chosen from different genres and do not necessarily fit into a neat category of a single thematic genre.
1. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad is one of the greatest English-language authors of the last century. He was a Polish-British writer who could not speak English and yet he is widely hailed as a master stylist of English prose. His novel Heart of Darkness is a splendid adventure novel set in colonial Africa. It is an acclaimed novel published in 1899. The novel tells the story of Charles Marlow, whose mission is to leave the world of empire (the so-called civilized world) and sail to the African country of Congo. But what he encounters in the journey is an adventure that readers will find very intriguing and metaphorical. He is in the middle of the jungle and experiences the darkness of it and the darkness of the journey he has undertaken. The novel is considered one of the best studies of how colonialism worked. The film was also adapted for the screen by American director Francis Ford Coppola and was a critical and commercial success.
2. Homer’s Odyssey
The Odyssey is an ancient Greek epic poem written by Homer. Nothing is more adventurous than this epic poem and the story it tells. The author tells the famous story of Odysseus in the Greek epic poem. The story begins from when Troy falls to the journey the hero must undertake to return home over ten years. Homer’s epic poem is one of the oldest ancient works of literature, which is still widely read by people around the world. It is a literary work that is taught in all schools and universities in the world. This is the greatest attribute of the timelessness of this work.
3. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
This novel by American novelist Herman Melville is considered one of the finest and greatest novels of the last century. It’s a great marine romance and it’s adventure at its best. The novel tells the story of Captain Ahab’s journey to hunt and kill the great white whale that rules the ocean and haunts his mind. It was published in 1851 and is hailed today as the great American novel of its time. This is a must read for anyone who enjoys sea romances or adventures at sea.
4. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Winner of the 2002 Booker Prize, Yann Martel’s book is an international bestseller. One of the most beloved adventure novels of all time, Yann Martel’s novel revolves around a young boy who survives on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. His only companion is a tiger. The novel is well regarded and loved for its themes and questions the meaning of life in all its complex ways. The novel won international fans and readers drew religious metaphors from it. The relationship between man and a beast is examined in the novel and is a must read novel of our time. The book has sold over ten million copies worldwide. It was also adapted into a Hollywood blockbuster.
5. Dune by Frank Herbert
Dunes is an interstellar adventure book that tells the story of different noble houses fighting to control the deserted island of Arrakis. Herbert Dune’s adventure novel is the best-selling science fiction novel of all time. So much so that the entire Dune series is considered one of the classic adventure novels of the genre. The idea for the novel came to Herbert when he was supposed to write a magazine article about sand dunes in the Oregon Dunes near Florence, Oregon, USA. As was his style, the author got very involved and ended up with more material than needed for the magazine article. He got too involved and ended up with a lot more raw material than needed for an article. Luckily, Herbert never wrote the magazine article, but instead the idea sprouted into what later became Dune. The novel was published in 1965. It became an instant hit upon publication and won several awards. Today, the Dune series has the distinction of being the best-selling science fiction of all time.
6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
This novel by British writer Douglas Adams is still widely quoted in academia and literature. The novel tells a simple adventure story. When Earth is destroyed, only one man survives: Arthur Dent. He is picked up by Ford Prefect, an alien writer who is working on an e-book of the same name. What readers will now experience is one of the greatest adventures of all time, that is, an adventure across the galaxy.
7. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Given its popularity as a novel, it will come as a surprise to many readers to know that lord of the flies is the author’s first novel published in 1954. Author William Golding later won a Noble Prize for Literature. The novel tells the story of a group of school children stranded on an island. Schoolchildren are wasted with limited resources and challenged to govern themselves. What follows is a classic adventure that turns the page and a lot will go wrong. The novel is considered one of the most popular written by William Golding and one of his critically acclaimed writings.
8. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
The novel is an adventure novel by French writer Jules Verne published in 1872. The novel tells the story of a Phileas Fogg and his valet who decided to use the time of 80 days to go around the world. If we had 80 days to spare, could we go around the world? The novel attempts to embark on the same adventure journey and the duo are blessed with 20,000 books and a brilliant adventure. It is considered an essential adventure novel by the author.
9. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
One of the oldest novels on this list was published in 1719. It is basically a fictional travelogue and tells the story of a sailor named Robinson Crusoe. The original title of the novel is long and intriguing and perhaps reveals the heart of the story. The title is ‘The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who Lived Eight and Twenty Years, All Alone on an Uninhabited Island on the Coast of America, Near the Mouth of the Great Oronoko river; having been cast ashore by shipwreck, where all men perished except himself. With an account how he was at last so strangely delivered by Pyrates. Defoe’s novel was a hit and is still widely read. The novel is considered one of the first realistic fictions ever written.
10. A Passage to India by EM Forster
It’s a novel that has earned author EM Forster many accolades and a bit of scorn in the post-colonial world as well. This is a typical empire romance and where the logic and meanings of empire also play out remarkably well. The story is set in the 1920s in India, which was part of the British Empire. This is the story of a Quested Adela and Mrs. Moore, who travel to India in the 1920s. Adela is about to be engaged to Ronny Moore in Chandrapore, India. But things don’t go as planned. The novel is set against the backdrop of Indian independence and the novel is considered preeminent in the subject matter and themes it deals with. There are many adventures in the novel that will take readers to India in the 1920s, before independence.