Crown Publishing Group: American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee

The Adventurers Guild

In the city of Freestone, children have their entire lives mapped out for them at the age of 11 when they undergo a sorting process called the "Guildculling." During this public ceremony, the Guilds--a combination profession and caste system--choose which children they will accept. Best friends Zed and Brock are on the cusp of getting everything they've ever wanted: wisecracking Brock is a shoo-in for the Merchants Guild, while shy Zed has a chance that his elven blood might get him into the prestigious Mages, allowing him to give a better life to his Servants Guild mother. But the dangerous Adventurers Guild, a ragtag militia, can trump the choice of any other Guild, and suddenly Brock and Zed are a part of the rudest, crudest and most reviled guild of them all, sworn with fellow new recruits Liza and Jett to protect Freestone against the dangers that surround its walls.

The Adventurers Guild stands out within the fantasy genre, displaying a wonderfully diverse cast of characters. Authors Nick Eliopulos (Spirit Animals) and Zack Loran Clark are enthusiastic Dungeons & Dragons players, and the influences can be seen in their fantastic world as, in any good D&D adventure, Brock and Zed face increasingly scary monsters and trickier moral choices. The novel also makes a case for pulling together to achieve the impossible: "A handful of stars working together can make a constellation to guide the lost," says the intimidating guildmistress Alabasel Frond. "A skyful could illuminate the world." And, aside from its many other merits, The Adventurers Guild is simply great fun to read. --Ali Davis, freelance writer and playwright