3 Top Adventure Stories: What Makes Them Classics?

(DGIwire) – Within the pantheon of adventure fiction, certain stories have stood the test of time to gain the status of classics. Opinions are sure to differ regarding the best of the best, but it is likely that the three yarns listed here will occupy the majority—if not all—of the “all-time favorite” lists compiled by adventure story-lovers:

  • The Odyssey: As an archetype of the adventurer, the Greek hero Odysseus is hard to beat. Homer’s epic poem—a sequel to The Iliad—traces the king of Ithaca’s journey home after the fall of Troy. The 10-year trek—replete with seductive sirens, a cyclops, the monster Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis—have kept readers on the edge of their seats since the eighth century BC.
  • Moby-Dick: In Herman Melville’s 1851 saga, sailor Ishmael tells the story of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the Pequod, for revenge on Moby-Dick, the white whale that on the previous whaling voyage bit off Ahab’s leg at the knee. The detailed and realistic descriptions of whale hunting and life aboard a ship are among the novel’s most arresting features.
  • Peter Pan: M. Barrie’s 1911 novel—which followed his 1904 play—tells the story of a mischievous little boy who can fly and has many adventures on the island of Neverland that is inhabited by mermaids, fairies, Native Americans and pirates. Peter has many stories involving Wendy Darling and her two brothers, his fairy Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys and Captain Hook.

“Captain Hook is portrayed as a villain in Peter Pan, but what if the story were retold from his perspective?” asks John Leonard Pielmeier, author of the recently published Hook’s Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself (Scribner, 2017). “That’s the question I set out to answer in my debut novel.”

As we learn in Hook’s Tale, Captain James Cook (a/k/a Hook)—long defamed as a vicious pirate—was in fact a dazzling wordsmith who left behind a vibrant, wildly entertaining and entirely truthful memoir. Now Pielmeier is proud to present this crucial historic artifact in its entirety for the first time. Cook’s story begins in London, where he lives with his widowed mother. At 13, he runs away from home but is kidnapped and pressed into naval service as an unlikely cabin boy. Soon he discovers a treasure map that leads to a mysterious archipelago called the “Never-Isles” from which there appears to be no escape. In the course of his adventures, he meets the pirates Smee and Starkey, falls in love with the enchanting Tiger Lily, adopts an oddly affectionate crocodile and befriends a charming boy named Peter—who teaches him to fly. He battles monsters, fights in mutinies, swims with mermaids, and eventually learns both the sad and terrible tale of his mother’s life and the true story of his father’s disappearance.

“Offering a new perspective on a classic tale was great fun to write and hopefully will be great fun to read as well,” adds Pielmeier.