Where can one begin when reviewing the first novel in The Explorers Guild, A Passage to Shambhala? It was co-authored by Kevin Costner (yes, that one) and illustrated by the guy who did the illustrations for 1000 ways to die. Interested yet?
It’s not exactly a graphic novel, but it’s also not really a novel. Instead it’s some sort of monstrositous hybrid beast that is near impossible to put down at points.
Having the drawn panels scattered throughout the story help move it along and give you a different perspective than just the writing. It helps to make it a quick read as, naturally, four panels takes a lot less time to digest than four paragraphs.
it is also an exceedingly beautiful book. The cover speaks for itself, but the pages inside are aged and feel nice to the touch. The artwork itself is beautiful, and its sparing using of colour makes it very interesting.
The story is in some ways a mystery and in others an adventure. It starts with a mysterious light in the north and then jumps down to India and the middle east during the second world war. All the characters have different motives for being interested in finding this mysterious light; some religious, some military, some health related. There’s a race between good and bad; or rather relative good and possibly bad as this novel deals mainly in shades of grey which makes it both interesting and infuriating.
One of my favourite things about the book, outside of the aesthetics and the wonderful story, was that whenever the location changed within the novel, in the picture that denotes the change the longitude and latitude were listed. Although this is a small detail it definitely helped to get you into the adventuring frame of mind.
The book was quite clearly written for the screen, no surprise based on the author, and if IMDb is to believed, may be turned into a television series in the future (it is listed as in development ). Frustratingly, it is called the first book in the series when no others have been scheduled, so far as I can tell, as it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.
I rated this book a 7 out of 10. It was a fun read and something different than what I normally would have looked at. It was a beautifully designed book and the aesthetics aren’t to be ignored and if that’s the only reason that you read the book it will be well worth it.