The Explorers Guild: Volume One: A Passage to Shambhala is a throwback to the golden age of adventure stories. It's one part pulp novel and one part graphic novel, brought to cinematic life by Hollywood director Kevin Costner. I first heard about The Explorers Guild on an episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast. Costner described it as a book that could stand the test of time. "I like the idea of taking something off the shelf that has the heft of this [book] and actually having to blow the dust off it".
I was immediately hooked.
The story is set during World War I and revolves around the Guild's quest to find the mythological holy Buddhist city of Shambhala, a search that will take them from one side of the globe to the other, and unveil an incredible secret. The story is Rudyard Kipling meets Indiana Jones. It's good fun.
The old timey language took me a while to get used to, but after a few chapters the style and voice really enriched the story and made it feel even more like an adventure from another time. The plot meanders a bit, like an old black-and-white Saturday matinee movie, always begging you to turn the page to find out just one more secret, but I found that perfect for this kind of story. If you enjoy plunging into mysterious, sprawling worlds you will probably like it too. I enjoyed returning to it again and again each night as I read.
The book itself is beautiful, comprised of five interconnected "books" or stories printed on finger-pleasing paper stock made to look aged in the printing process. It sounds silly, but I found these little touches helped to transport me back in (fictitious) time as I read about secret parts of the world, hidden histories and big adventures. The cover is embossed with subtly illustrated clues to the story within that have a nice retro feel to them. (Cannibals! Mysterious lights! Fighter planes!)
No doubt there will be sequels. I can't wait to read about the further adventures of The Explorers Guild. It's the kind of book that makes me want to settle into a worn leather chair with a glass of scotch in my own adventurer's club.
– Keith Monaghan
The Explorers Guild: A Passage to Shambhala
by Kevin Costner (author), Jon Baird (author) and Rick Ross (illustrator)
2015, 784 pages, 6 x 9 x 1.9 inches