Welcome to Day 26 of the 4th Annual March MG Madness! Today we are celebrating John David Anderson's The Dungeoneers...
(Dungeoneers Series #1)
by John David Anderson
Walden Pond Press
The Dungeoneers is an action-packed, funny, and heartbreaking middle grade fantasy-adventure from the author of the acclaimed Sidekicked and Minion, John David Anderson.
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.
Meet the Dungeoneers
Being the only son of a poor cobbler and the brother to eight sisters is not easy...just ask 12 year old Colm Candorly. And when Colm, a natural and talented thief, finds (aka pilfers) a pile of silver and gold from the richer people in town, he finds himself in quite the pickle. But then slick talking Finn Argos arrives and offers Colm an unusual way out of trouble. Colm soon finds himself training in Thwodin’s Legions, a guild of dungeoneers, and among his own kind for the first time. Colm, a quick study of the art of being a rogue, may have just found a way to use his talent and find fame and riches along the way...if he can survive training and its trials and the plot of a traitor.
The Dungeoneers is such a fun, addictive read and I loved every minute of it! John David Anderson spins a spectacular tale full of action, humor, magic, adventure, and captivating characters. With an absolutely pitch-perfect middle-grade voice and smart, compelling storytelling, The Dungeoneers is riveting from beginning to end. Anderson’s world-building is pure perfection as he crafts a clever, wildly imaginative, and fully developed world. From Colm’s hometown of Felhaven to Thwodin’s castle and the dungeons explored by the dungeoneers, this world is vividly laid out in enthralling details. The world of the dungeoners in Thwodin’s Legions is full of fantastical and whimsical (both dark and light) elements, exciting classes, and amazing things to learn!
From rogues, mages, barbarians, druids, goblins, orcs, and more, The Dungeoneers is full of eclectic and engaging characters. Anderson gives such amusing life to each of his characters and I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them. I just loved plucky Colm and his quirky group of friends, including fierce Lena, endearing Quinn, and sweet Serene.
Colm’s time with the dungeoneers is full of thrilling action, laugh-out-loud moments, and plenty of surprises, leading to a truly twisty reveal and heart-racing conclusion.
my final thoughts: With smart, sparkling storytelling; awesome characters; and an exciting premise, The Dungeoneers will charm and wow readers! I certainly cannot wait until book two!!
5/5 yummy cupcakes
What three words best describe your book, The Dungeoneers?
Dungeon-diving deliciousness? Monster-mashing mayhem? Funny…I hope.
Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give this book a try?
Girl barbarians fainting at the sight of blood, fireballs shooting out of peoples’ ears, pickpockets, twists and turns, swords with names, a door with a hundred locks, and a couple of charming rogues—that covers about a tenth the book.
Grab a copy of The Dungeoneers and answer the following:
416. Because you knew it was bound to happen eventually.
The dining hall of the guild. Dungeons are cool, but a lot of important stuff happens in the small moments when four friends sit around a table and give each other a hard time.
flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:
Page 215. Attack on the castle. Waves of orcs thundering across the field. And the arrival of a legendary swordsman that Colm has reason to distrust.
What inspired The Dungeoneers? How did the story come to be?
A childhood spent reading about hordes of treasure guarded by dangerous beasts combined with a fatherhood spent playing D&D-type board games with my kids. Obviously the fantasy genre is ripe with heroes who are called upon to descend into the darkness to retrieve some mystical totem or priceless artifact, but those heroes are usually on some noble quest to save the world from evil-wizard-total-takeover—they don’t actually do this sort of thing for a living. Enter the Dungeoneers—specially trained to take stuff that doesn’t belong to them, despite all of the orcs, giant spiders, acidic blobs, and magically tainted breakfast rolls standing in their way. I enjoy writing fantasy novels because they are tropes I am familiar enough with to put my own spin on. Dungeoneers is high adventure, but it’s also a little subversive and self-mocking at times. Plus girls with axes are cool.
Can you tell us a bit about your hero, Colm? What makes him special and sets him apart from other middle-grade heroes?
For starters, he’s missing a finger and has eight sisters. He also has both parents—which really sets him apart from traditional fantasy heroes (usually they are orphans, though sometimes one parent is lucky enough to survive past the prologue). What I think makes Colm “real” is that he is constantly battling with his own conscience. He does things in the book that are questionable, morally, or at the very least, selfish—and many of those things are also justified by the people around him. He has to redefine his priorities as the book progresses, which I think a lot of young readers can identify with. Do I do something illegal if it means helping my family? Am I willing to take something that isn’t mine if I share it with others I care about? I think Colm’s situation, while fantastic, will be recognizable to readers.
I should add, though, that while Colm is the protagonist of the book, Dungeoneers is full of young heroes, all of them struggling with their own issues—and it’s the chemistry between them that I think really makes the book stand out. Hopefully every reader will find one Dungeoneer that they can empathize with (the character they will choose if they ever make a video game version). Plus they would make mongo-awesome action figures.
As a middle-grade author, why do think MG is so important and popular? What do you love about MG?
MG catches young readers at a crucial moment in their literary evolution—at a time where reading either turns into a lifelong passion or simply more homework. With so much competing for their attention, I know it can be difficult to privilege reading for pleasure, but that’s what great MG books do—they hook their young readers, giving them an emotional and intellectual thrill that rewards them for the time they devote to reading it. As an author I like the challenge of helping to create lifelong readers. I also think the last twenty years have done a great job creating a library of wonderful books for kids that age to choose from. They don’t have to jump straight from Nancy Drew to Stephen King (which is kind of what I did). There’s a book out there for every single MG reader—they just have to find their favorites.
What I love most about MG, though, is the ability to escape into the worlds I inhabited when I was twelve, romping my way through imaginary adventures, but with the benefit of thirty more years of life experience. My goal when writing a novel is to try and infuse what little wisdom I’ve gathered into an entertaining yarn so that readers are left breathless sometimes and with questions at others. Plus I never really matured past that stage in my life, so I have no problem pretending to be twelve. It’s something I am thankful for every day as I put on my Darth Vader t-shirt and admire my Lego collection.
What are some of your favorite middle-grade reads and characters?
I actually have a tendency to skip around, trying to read as many different authors and different stories as possible. As such I don’t get attached to series often (blasphemy, I know). It makes it difficult to call Percy Jackson a favorite when you’ve only read the first book (don’t think less of me). I’ve always got a middle-grade novel on my nightstand though (just finished Rain Reign). I think the classics are worth rereading (does MG have classics?)—things like The Giver and Where the Red Fern Grows (that book made me cry—and I’m not really a crier). I’ll also read just anything by Kate DiCamillo or M.T. Anderson, and I have a soft spot for authors that can make me bust a gut, like Chris Healy or Dan Gutman.
Probably my favorite MG characters are girls—tough, and smart and a little bit salty. Hermione Grainger meets Amelia McBride. They remind me a bit of my own daughter. What I don’t like are MG heroes who are just miniature adults, hyper intellectual and uber responsible. Kids are nuts. They do crazy random stuff. I love that. It makes me feel better about being nuts too.
If you could jump into any middle-grade world, which would you choose and what would you do there?
Are you kidding? Two words: Willy Wonka. What would I do? Four words: Eat till I vomit.
Fill in the blanks:
If I could travel through time, I’d go to
2250 AD. I’m seriously worried for my great great great great great grandchildren. I want to know that there’s going to be a world left for them to inherit. Of course I’d also like to take a Snoopy Snow Cone Maker back to the Dark Ages and brighten those guys’ lives up a little.
If I were in the Guinness Book of World Records, it would be for
Most sea-salt dark chocolate caramels eaten in a single sitting. See question eight above.
My cool outlaw name would be
Doc McToodles. Oh. Wait, you said “cool,” didn’t you?
My favorite mythical creature is
Manticore. I mean, seriously. Somebody was like, let’s make an awesome animal mash-up! It’s enough to have a flying lion—but a scorpion’s tail? How wicked is that?
The last awesome book I read was
All the Light We Cannot See. Sorry, middle-graders—you’ll need to wait a few years for this one, but it will be worth it. Hauntingly beautiful is overused, but I think it applies in that case. I wish I could write like Anthony Doerr.
If you were to bake a cupcake inspired by The Dungeoneers , what would it look and taste like and what would you call it?
I’d call it Colm’s Secret Confection. It would be chocolate, but with a gooey golden buttery center, like a chest of gold you discover at the end of a dungeon. Of course the cupcake would be locked in a box and you’d have to pick the lock to get to it. And then an ogre would jump out and try to eat you.
John David Anderson once hit himself so hard on a dare by his sister that he literally knocked himself out of a chair and nearly blacked out. He has since translated this passion and singularity of purpose to the related arts of novel writing and pizza eating. The author of STANDARD HERO BEHAVIOR and the forthcoming SIDEKICKED, Anderson is a firm believer in wearing the same pair of jeans for three days in a row (four in the winter). He lives with his beautiful wife and twins in Indianapolis.
Win a copy of The Dungeoneers!
Walden Pond Press has generously offered one copy for one winner.
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