I’m going on an adventure! (And there’s going to be magic, and royalty, and an epic quest, and a dark lord at the end.)
Step 1: Choose eight non-fantasy books from your bookshelves. If you choose fantasy books, no one will come after you with pitchforks, but you’ll probably laugh less.
Step 2: Draw the names of those eight books out of a hat in random order, then answer the following questions:
What word does the title of your first book begin with? If it’s “the,” your quest will be made with the sole aim of destroying a magical object which becomes addictive to anyone who holds it too long. If it’s anything other than “the,” you’ll simply be looking to find a magical object which is rumored to be able to save the world or maybe grant one wish to the discoverer.
Book 1: The Martian by Andy Weir
Clearly, I am on a mission to destroy something. What else did you expect from me?
While you’re holding your first book, open it to a random page. The first object you see on the page has just become magical. This is what you’ll be destroying or seeking out, depending on the previous question. Are you in trouble?
It seems that rumors have spread of a mystical and addictive… headset. And it’s fallen into my hands. I would bet you that I didn’t even realize there was anything special about it for the first twenty-four hours, considering my current sleep and music-binge habits. I probably didn’t even try to take it off my head until the second time through the Hamilton soundtrack. And then I probably got distracted by the next song again.
So, yes, I’m in trouble.
Where is your second book set? This is where you must go either to destroy your magical object, or to find it.
Book 2: Iliad by Homer (translated by Stanley Lombardo)
TROY! (Please read all the enthusiasm you can into that exclamation. I’m practically dancing in my seat.)
I’m not precisely sure where we’re starting from, but I foresee a wild, wild boat ride in the Mediterranean Sea. Also, I have a list of places we’re stopping along the way: Rome, Athens, Piraeus, Thermopylae, Salamis, Marathon, Lesbos, Ortygia, Delos… We aren’t in any hurry, right?
[thinks for a moment] I am going to get myself into so much trouble…
Open your third book to a random page. The character whose name you see first ages up to around 700 years old and becomes the wizard who starts you on your quest. On a scale of Gandalf to Dumbledore, how grumpy is s/he?
Book 3: The Virtues of War by Stephen Pressfield
Hephaestion was one of Alexander the Great’s generals, as well as being one of his closest friends. They were raised together, given the same princely education, and he shared all of Alexander’s secrets. According to this book, at least, he was also Alexander’s milder half, the man who brought reason to the table, bold, but ever-thoughtful.
Soldier, diplomat, engineer, student of the philosophers, strategist… He’s not grumpy. He’s just cleverer than you.
After seven hundred years of conquest and curiosity, he might be the best wizard I’ve ever met.
Open your fourth book to a random page. The character whose name you see first is the soldier who has joined your party for mysterious reasons. S/he may possibly be rugged, taciturn, scarred, carry a named weapon, or any combination there of. What’s his/her secret?
Book 4: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Countess Mercedes de Morcerf is beautiful, elegant, and loving. I have never thought of her as dangerous before, though now that I do, I like it very much. I would like to see the charming Mercedes storm a castle. Or a prison. This book might have gone very differently if she had.
Her secret? She’s looking for an old lover, who may nor may not be imprisoned on one of these islands that I keep detouring for.
Open your fifth book to a random page. The character whose name you see first is now royalty. Possibly an heir to the throne, possibly just a second or third child allowed to go on adventures with Mommy and Daddy’s money. Every quest needs one. How useful is s/he?
Book 5: Illuminae by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Ezra Mason barely escaped the ending of his world, and now he’s wandering, trying to escape the repercussions of destruction. He’s a fighter pilot and, when he has nothing better to worry about, he worries that his superiors are going to give him a call sign like “Cutie Pie” or “Pretty Boy.”
I think he would make a brilliant princeling: sincere, kind, and just a little naive. He’s competent enough to be useful, and just dorky enough for the rest of the party to still believe somehow that they need to protect him.
Open your sixth book to a random page. The character whose name you see first joins the party and immediately starts a non-so-friendly rivalry with the royal member of your party. It is never relevant to the plot. Why don’t they like each other, and what nicknames do they give each other?
Book 6: Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery
Ruth Dutton is opinionated and old-fashioned, with a black and white view of how the world should be. She is that aunt of yours who will tell you that in her day she had to walk all the way to Troy, uphill, carrying all her own armor and fry pans. She has a habit of taking in wayward teenagers and trying to shape them into proper human beings with all the seeming benevolence of a shark.
Obviously, she doesn’t like Ezra because he is a wayward teen. Ezra doesn’t like her because no one likes it when someone tries to chew off all their flaws.
Ezra calls Ruth, “the Bludgeon.” Ruth calls Ezra, “Pretty Boy” and “Cutie Pie” and “Sunshine” and “Cupcake” and “Muffin” and…
Open your seventh book to a random page. The character whose name you see first has exactly two useful skills: cooking and extreme loyalty. Of course, this makes him/her the most important member of the party.
Book 7: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Levi is generous and caring, and this book more than demonstrates his willingness to suddenly take a roadtrip for a good cause. Honestly, I think he has a few lessons to learn about loyalty, but he’s halfway there.
Seeing as Levi is my favorite character from this book, I’m more than happy to have him along. Plus, I imagine he would be a good ally for Ezra, as the two young puppies in the party, and I’ll appreciate his glowing positivity when the going gets tough and the headset really starts digging its claws in.
Overall, I think my party is well rounded with Clever Clever Haephastion, Kickbutt Mercedes, Princeling Ezra, Ruth the Shark, and Happy Levi. We might actually survive this trip.
Open your eighth book to a random page. The character whose name you see first now has all the dark powers you can imagine. S/he is the ultimate Dark Lady/Lord. Are you in trouble?
Book 8: Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan
Krista Coughlin is dangerous, not like sharp steel or hot iron, but like something festering. She is not the sort of person who I would want to invite into the house for lunch, but she’s a great character: pragmatic and calculating, clinging to the ideas of family, willing to do whatever it takes to protect what’s hers, sliding under conflicts rather than beating her way through them.
Give her dark powers and she’ll be a walking tragedy, seeding rust and rot in everything she touches. And I love the thought of it.
I’m ready for my adventure. Bring it on.