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What is an Adventure Novel?

This article contains all the information you need about adventure novels, from their origins and most relevant characteristics.

In addition, you will learn about the novels that made the genre shine and made it one of the most popular among readers around the world.

If you’re a fan of reading or writing, you’re probably familiar with adventure fiction.

From the Odyssey to Treasure Island, writing adventure novels involves the use of different elements that will allow the author to attract the reader and provide a good dose of intrigue.

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What is an adventure novel?

The term adventure comes from the Old French aventure, which means “fortuitous situation” or “destiny”.

Nowadays, adventure novels stand out for the unexpected journeys and experiences in which one or more characters participate.

The adventure novel, also known as adventure fiction, is a subgenre of literary fiction in which events outside the protagonist’s everyday life are presented.

These events are often imbued with emotion and danger, often generated through physical action.

The action covers most of the plot in the adventure novel. Usually, it is about a hero who constantly fights for the welfare of his own, which may well be a community or an entire society.

Chance is a decisive element in the plot of these novels.

In addition, the adventures usually include characters that appear in the middle of the story by chance, and it is precisely chance that is the most important element in these novels.

But where did the literary forms that gave rise to this subgenre develop? Here we tell you about it.

Origin of the adventure novel

The literary tradition of adventurous heroes goes back to the beginnings of storytelling.

In The Odyssey, written by Homer around 700 BC, a hero (Odysseus) goes on a perilous quest for at least a decade to find his beloved.

Although millennia have passed since this story was told, the adventure novel retains its popularity.

Somehow, adventure has always remained in the imagination of writers.

During medieval times, adventure was the central plot of romance stories.

Although this type of literature does not have an arsenal of works, the fact is that the subgenre has undergone significant changes over the centuries.

It went from stories of romantic knights to adventure novels based on spies with high-tech weapons. Jules Verne, Victor Hugo, and Sir Walter Scott are examples of this.

In the case of children’s adventure stories, the first stories were published during the 19th century.

Johann David Wyss followed suit with The Swiss Family Robinson, published in 1812, while Harriet Martineau published The Peasant and the Price in 1856.

Relevant characteristics of adventure novels

The protagonist is a hero

The protagonist of adventure stories is usually a man or boy of brilliance and intelligence. This hero uses his ingenuity to escape from dangerous scenarios, regardless of whether they are imaginary or not.

One of the most important aspects of the hero is that they are not a perfect character. In fact, they often look more human to move the story forward.

The journey or quest is the focus of the plot

In adventure storytelling, it is paramount to include a journey or an intense quest to bring the story to life. Without a journey or quest, the adventure simply does not exist.

But there is a more powerful reason to include this element in an adventure story: the journey allows the hero to encounter something that changes him and breaks his limits to mature his personality.

Unusual places

Whether the story is set in a 19th-century family home or thousands of years ago, unusual locations are an important element.

The descriptions allow us to immerse ourselves in the essence of the plot, which is nothing more than the hero’s journey.

Constant danger and action

The adventure novel is known for risk and action at all times. Frequently, the action is violent and involves the protagonist in the middle of the journey.

For example, the young Potter’s stay at Hogwarts is replete with battles against evil. No matter what the scenario is, and whether it is real or fictional, the adventures are not exactly peaceful.

Dark environment

The adventure novel has a somber tone and constant uncertainty so that readers cannot guess whether the protagonist lives or dies at the end of the story.

In order not to turn these works into dark tales, the authors imprint a touch of humor in their stories and thus manage to balance the atmosphere within the novel.

Most famous adventure novels

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Published in 1719, it is one of the crowning works of Englishman Daniel Defoe and is known as the first English novel.

The adventure novel tells the story of a shipwrecked Englishman who lives for 28 years on a desert island located in the Orinoco, near the territory of Venezuela and Trinidad.

After a shipwreck, Robinson Crusoe faces the scenario of being the only survivor of his group.

It is a fictional autobiography based on the protagonist that has had an overwhelming impact on literary works and reflections of all kinds.

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Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

This satire written in prose was published in 1726 by the writer Jonathan Swift. In this work, the author makes fun of travel stories, a narrative subgenre linked to the European society of this time.

Since its publication, the work has not ceased to be published, with countless adaptations and a marked influence on the imagination of writers.

In the story, the protagonist (Gulliver) makes four different journeys as a doctor through four strange civilizations.

In each of them, Gulliver finds a new vision of life and new spaces to mock the traditions of the English.

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Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Published in 1851, Moby Dick is one of the classics of world literature. Written by Herman Melville, the novel tells the story of the voyage of Pequod, a Chilean ship that is on the trail of a huge white sperm whale.

The persecution and the characteristics of the characters are elements applauded by critics.

However, what critics highlight most about this work is the use of detailed and extensive descriptions to show the whaling situation during the 19th century.

In addition, the author included a great deal of detail about the lifestyle of the sailors of his time.

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Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

This work was written in installments. The first one was published on November 7, 1872, while the last one was published in December of the same year.

It tells the story of Phileas Fogg and his collaborator Jean Passepartout, who embark on a journey around the world 80 days after the opening of a new railway in India.

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Written by the American Mark Twain and published between 1876 and 1878, this adventure novel is considered by critics as a literary masterpiece.

It tells the story of Tom Sawyer, a boy who faces the pre-Civil War period in a fictional town inspired by the place where Twain was born.

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Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Scottish Robert Louis Stevenson is the author of this work published in 1883. It has been one of the most influential novels in the world of entertainment.

It has been adapted to television, film, comics, video games, and, especially, books. The novel represents a critique and a reflection of the moral conception of money and ambition.

The adventure takes place in a distant period when deserted islands and pirates still existed.

In the story, young Jim Hawkins receives in his hands a map of the island, which shows the exact place where the booty of the most important pirate in the world is hidden.

Thus, Hawkins sets out on a voyage with his crew in search of the reward.

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The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Also known as the Jungle Book, this story was published in 1894 and written by Nobel Prize winner Rudyard Kipling. Initially, the story was published in magazines.

It is a collection of stories in which a married couple loses their baby in the middle of the jungle while fleeing from an attack.

This little boy arrives in the care of a pack of wolves, who welcome him with affection and take care of him.

The work has been adapted to movies on multiple occasions, the most successful being the Walt Disney film of the same name.

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We encourage you to read these adventure novels and many more available on our website.

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