Tuesday, November 10, 2015

MG Review: The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson


First Published by: Walden Pond Press January 1st 2015
Genres:  Fantasy
Pages: 448
Format: Hardcover
Source:  Library 
Series:  Book 1 in the series with second in May 2016

 Twelve-year-old Colm Candorly lives with his parents and eight sisters.  Sister's who torment him to no end, yet also are the ones that have unknowingly honed his skills in the "art of subterfuge and avoidance," because getting away from their pinches and constant giggles takes some skill.  At the same time,  Colm dearly loves his sisters, so when one sister takes ill, he tests out his skills by pick- pocketing from some of the wealthy town residents.  Medicine after all takes lots of coins.  When Colm's father finds out where the money came from, he can't abide having a thief in the family and plans to confess to the local magistrate and return the money.  He hopes they will be lenient on Colm.   Instead of going to jail or having his hand chopped off, the plan is for Colm to go with Finn Argos to see if he has the talent to become an apprentice within Master Thwodin's guild of Dungeoneers.  Master Thwodin runs a school to train rogues, barbarians, mages and druids in the art of entering dungeons to retrieve their treasures.

 Anderson wonderfully establishes Colm's family life very early on in the story.  Colm with all of his noble reasons for wanting to pickpocket, stemming from his desire to help his family. I really enjoyed Colm's younger sister, Celia and how she gives Colm her hairpin (most prize possession), because she knows he will bring it back.  Family is very important to the story, and given that his father doesn't make enough money as a cobbler, Colm see's it as his role to help out.  Colm also has a strong desire for adventure and to not end up like his father, struggling to make enough money to take care of the family.  It's easy to see why Colm see's Finn Argos as a means for adventure.   Finn Argos sees potential within Colm as a rogue and initially takes on an advisory role as they travel to Master Thwodin's castle.  Later, he is the one who puts forth Colm's first test of his skills when he pushes him down a hole into a dungeon.  Finn is the one who teaches him the ins and outs of what a rogue is, and explains his many rules to being a rogue, with all of his sub-corollaries.  Colm  isn't what you think of as a "rogue," he isn't really a scoundrel or unscrupulous, but he does end up getting to learn how to spot and disable traps, pick locks, and sneaking by attackers, which are all pretty cool.   Finn also teaches Colm the honor code or "only stealing what is rare and unique,"  and the rogues motto of "ready for everything, guilty of nothing." Throughout Dungeoneers there are many supporting characters that Colm meets, starting with the ones he meets when was pushed down that hole to begin his "real test" to be an apprentice.  There is Lena (a barbarian who's inclination is to "stab it" then ask questions), Serena (a druid who has the ability to talk to animals and insects), and Quinn (a mage who has a stutter when he is nervous and is still learning to control his magical abilities).  Each of these characters have some sort of flaw to their abilities that they will need to overcome to be an asset in the dungeon, which ends up being a challenge that they end up facing.   Some of the most amusing moments are getting to know Lena, Serena and Quinn and watching them interact as they try to escape the dungeon.  There are also many suspenseful moments as well as a nice twist at the very end of the book.  Plus, Thwodin's school was intriguing with classes in history of Dungeoneering, Basic Survival Skills, and Dungeon Ecology. Even the teachers were as interesting to me as the sub-characters and classes.  Overall a wonderful story about a party going on a quest into a dungeon, trying to solve whatever traps get in their way, battle any attackers and get out with whatever treasure that they can find. 

Disclaimer,  The Dungeoneers  has been nominated for the Cybils award and my review reflects my personal opinion, not the opinion of the Cybils committee.  


  1. Well this sounds awesome! I love the names of the characters. Great review! :)

    1. Hey Jess, hope you get a chance to read it! Thanks for stopping by.