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Adventure Fiction

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English Literature

As children, we've often dreamed of swashbuckling pirates, fire-breathing dragons, outer space journeys and more. Even as adults, the child in us yearns for a visit from Gandalf or a letter from Hogwarts. This is perhaps because we all desire to go on an adventure. While that may not always be possible, we can live vicariously by reading adventure fiction!

Adventure Fiction Genre

If you go by the name, adventure fiction is quite simply a fictional narrative that includes an adventure. A scholar would tell you that adventure fiction is part of romance. They don't mean romance in the sense of a love story between two individuals, but romance as the term has been used in literary fiction and the novel genre.

'Romance' when discussing literary fiction and the novel genre refers to a type of fictional narrative where uncommon events may occur, and the characters have marvellous experiences.

In this sense, adventure fiction is a work of romance, where the adventure makes up a significant part of the story. It is, however, helpful to remember that adventure fiction is an umbrella genre that includes many sub-genres such as science fiction or epic fantasy.

Adventure fiction genre overlaps and examples

Often, adventure fiction overlaps with other genres, as already discussed above. Below are some examples of stories of adventure fiction that overlap with other genres:

Science fiction and adventure fiction

These tales are an overlap of science fiction and adventure fiction.

Science fiction refers to fictional narratives in which science or scientific technology features in a prominent way.

Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) chronicles the adventure of an eccentric scientist, Professor Otto Lidenbrock, his nephew, Axel and their guide, Hans, as they embark on a journey to the centre of the earth through an inactive volcano in Iceland.

Epic fantasy fiction and adventure fiction

These tales include a genre overlap of epic fantasy and adventure fiction.

Epic fantasy refers to fictional narratives that build a fantasy world or universe significantly different from ours. These worlds have their own laws, cultures, religions, and systems. Epic fantasy works usually constitute a series of books (or movies).

J. R. R. Tolkein's The Hobbit, or There and Back Again (1937) is set in the fictional universe of Middle-Earth. Here, Bilbo Baggins embarks on an adventure with dwarves to defeat a dragon named Smaug. On his journey, he accidentally acquires the One Ring, which forms the basis of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (1954-1955).

Crime fiction and adventure fiction

These tales include a genre overlap of crime fiction and adventure fiction.

In stories where crime and adventure fiction overlap, a crime is committed and the protagonists typically embark on an adventure to solve it and identify the culprit. Sometimes, the protagonists are children, amateur, or professional detectives.

Enid Blyton is the author of the Famous Five series (1942-1962), which involves a group of four children and a dog, who spend their school holidays together. In every novel, they embark on an adventure to solve a mystery or a crime.

Adventure Fiction Characteristics

While adventure fiction revolves around the 'adventure' in the narrative, these narratives typically include the following traits:

  • The adventure is the central plot. While there may be other minor adventures, diversions, and distractions in the narrative, there is always a main adventure that drives the main plot of the narrative forward. In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899), the central adventure is Marlow's journey into Africa, and his encounter with Mr Kurtz.
  • These stories focus on the element of danger. When there is a threat looming over the protagonists, it captivates the reader's attention.
  • There is often physical action involved in adventure fiction. This may be magical or violent.
  • The adventure usually concludes with the protagonist conquering something, overcoming an obstacle, or acquiring a reward. In Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883), the final reward is, as the title suggests, a treasure.

Adventure Fiction Authors and Books

Some of the most famous authors and their works of adventure fiction include the following:

Arthur Conan Doyle

The adventures of the famous consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, created by Arthur Conan Doyle, are enjoyed by readers all over the world. Arguably, while the stories featuring Sherlock Holmes fall under the detective fiction genre, some of the tales do include all the characteristics of a work of adventure fiction, especially The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892).

Jules Verne

Jules Verne was famous for writing tales of grand adventures, most of which have been adapted to the big screen. These adventure fiction narratives include the aforementioned Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864), Around the World in 80 Days (1872) and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870).

Arthurian fiction

King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table are frequently featured in works of adventure fiction. Whether it is the quest for the Holy Grail or defeating the evil magician Nimueh, Arthurian stories are read by audiences of all ages across the world. Some of the most famous Arthurian fiction books include John Steinbeck's The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), The Sword and the Stone (1938) by T. H. White, and Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889).

Adventure Fiction Today

Adventure fiction continues to remain a much-loved genre today, especially because of its action and fast pace. Due to the genre overlaps, adventure fiction is extremely versatile and has the potential to cater to a wide readership with diverse tastes. Contemporary adventure fiction can also be written with great complexity, such as Dan Brown's books featuring symbologist Robert Langdon, or in a more straightforward yet exciting way for young readers, such as the adventures featuring child detective Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene.

Adventure Fiction - Key Takeaways

  • Adventure fiction features an adventure that drives the main plot of the narrative.
  • Adventure fiction often overlaps with other genres such as science fiction, fantasy, and crime fiction.
  • Examples of adventure fiction include Around the World in 80 Days (1872) by Jules Verne, and Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883).
  • A popular topic for adventure fiction is King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table.
  • Adventure fiction caters to audiences of all ages and tastes.

Adventure Fiction

Adventure fiction is a fictional narrative that includes an adventure.

The characteristics of adventure fiction are:

  • The adventure is the central plot. While there may be other minor adventures and diversions and distractions in the narrative, there is always an adventure that drives the main plot of the narrative forward. For example, in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899), the central adventure is Marlow's journey into the wilds of Africa and his encounter with Mr. Kurtz.
  • These stories focus on the element of danger. When there is a threat looming over the protagonists, it captivates the reader's attention.
  • There is often physical action involved in adventure fiction. This may be magical or violent.
  • The adventure usually concludes with the protagonist conquering something, overcoming an obstacle or acquiring a reward. In Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883), the final reward is, as the title suggests, a treasure.

Some books of adventure fiction are Treasure Island (1883), The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892), Around the World in 80 Days (1872) and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870).

Adventure fiction revolves around the 'adventure' in the narrative. Adventure fiction features fast-paced action, with rewards or conquests for the protagonist at the end.

Authors famous for writing adventure fiction include Arthur Conan Doyle, RL Stevenson, Jules Verne, and Mark Twain.

Final Adventure Fiction Quiz

Question

True or False: Adventure fiction belongs to the genre of literary romance

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Answer

True

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Question

True or False: Adventure fiction features one main adventure and possibly other side adventure and distractions

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Answer

False

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Question

Who is the author of Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864)?

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Answer

Jules Verne

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Question

Which of the following is an example of adventure fiction + epic fantasy overlap?

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Answer

Famous Five series (1942-1962)

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Question

Who is the author of The Hounds of Baskerville?

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Answer

Arthur Conan Doyle

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Question

True or False: Adventure fiction has a gradual pace

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Answer

False

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Question

True or False: Adventure fiction involves only magical action

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Answer

True

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Question

Name a book featuring Arthurian adventures

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Answer

You could answer: John Steinbeck's The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), The Sword and the Stone (1938) by T. H. White and Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889).

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Question

Which of the following is a child detective in works of adventure fiction?

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Answer

Sherlock Holmes

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Question

The adventure in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness takes place on which continent?

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Answer

Africa

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