The Adventure Series: My first impressions

Sometime ago now, I wrote about my eBay of Adventure, in which I brought the entire Adventure series without having read them before, and spent a fairly substantial amount of money on early editions.

Well now, I’ve read them all. In approximately a month I have read all eight of the Adventure books, and LOVED every second of it.

In this blog, I shall attempt to tell you why I enjoyed them, which were my favourite, and my favourite character. I shall also point out links I noticed to Blyton’s Famous Five.

I think I didn’t read these books when I was younger because I was worried that I would like them more than I liked the Famous Five and I didn’t want to like any book or characters more than I liked them, but that doesn’t make me regret not waiting until now to read the Adventure books.

I was speaking to a good friend of mine about reading the Adventure Series as an adult over reading them as a child. She wished that she had read these books as a child, whereas I said;

“I’m glad I didn’t read them as a child, I think I have a greater appreciation of them as a adult.”

And it’s true. And odd. In fact its a very odd concept for most Enid Blyton fans. Usually  when we (the fans on the Enid Blyton Society Forums) read a book as an adult, the most common phrase I hear is that they wish they hadn’t had waited so long before reading that particular book.

Whereas I am more than happy to read her books as an adult, because I feel I can appreciate the language, imagery and storyline more. In fact the Adventure Series has so much to enjoy that as a child I wouldn’t have taken it all in.

Nowadays I still find new things to consider in the books I’ve read all my life (namely the Famous Five and the Malory Towers books).

The Adventure series is certainly a series for the older end of her spectrum of fans; there are more references to the war for one, or at least some sort of conflict. This idea is very clear in Valley of Adventure where there has been a war (the first edition for Valley was published in 1947 – two years after the Second World War) which is what makes the plot for Valley a fairly believable story because missing arts and treasures were still being looked for.

You can see the differences between the Adventure Series and the Famous Five and the Secret Seven for example. These three series seem to work through three different ages, and follow one another.

The Secret Seven is for younger children, there is danger but they are never far from home, they are never really in huge danger although they manage to get into some sticky situations.

As I see it the next series in the progression is the Famous Five; older characters – who do age a little in the novels, and get to leave Kirrin, have more varied adventures and get into a reasonable amount of danger. People get kidnapped, papers go missing, and there are some really unpleasant villains about. However with the Famous Five we do not get to see any effects of the war or anything too heavy about their adventures. Mostly they include hidden tunnels and missing treasure or stolen secrets.

The Adventure Series is the shorter of the three series but the children deal with some very dangerous men, getting themselves into tricky situations and always finding themselves at the end other end of some very dodgy characters.

We get to see characters who are a little older in age, there is more sharing of the tasks, and even though Lucy-Ann still is the “girly girl” she is sometimes very much the centre of the good ideas and sensible suggestions on how to get out of trouble.  The leadership of the four adventurers is more shared between Jack and Philip, they are quite balanced and equally matched. There is a suggestion that Jack older than Philip, but unlike the Famous Five and the boys’ struggle for leading, Jack and Philip tend to take in turns in being in control and leading  the adventure.

The feeling of the adventure series is one of full of excitement, there is always something happening and they are highly charged books, longer as well, so you get more detail and more to sink your teeth into.

The Adventure Series is one of Blyton’s best and this sentiment is echoed by many of Enid Blyton’s fans. I am glad that I finally managed to read this series and convince myself that however good they were that nothing would replace the Famous Five in my life. Although I have to say, that there is now a very strong contender for the my favourite series as the Adventure series is certainly one of Blyton’s best.

I think if I had to pick a favourite book it would be possibly Circus of Adventure because it is such a different type of adventure and there are lots of interesting factors; the change in country, the fact that the children become so involved with the circus and the way they outwit their enemy. I feel its certainly different to any of the Famous Five stories containing circuses because of the children’s involvement with the animals and travelling with the circus folk.

The Circus of Adventure Dustjacket

For me, it was harder to pick a favourite character out of the four children, Kiki the parrot (such a change from a dog!) and the adults- Mrs Mannering a.k.a Aunt Allie and Bill Smugs a.k.a. Bill Cunningham. I do like ALL the characters but I find myself favouring Jack mostly because he seems to have a lot more to do than the others at times, and especially in Circus of Adventure, given the nature of the book, he does have a lot of time as the main Character. I’m not so much of a Kiki fan, she’s funny yes, but she just doesn’t have the same appeal to me.

On the other hand I do find Mrs Mannering and Bill Cunningham pushing close to being favourite characters as well. Its nice to have two very different Blyton adults, and actually a little romance in the air. Its a nice change to have two adults who are happy to be with the children during the holidays instead of packing them off without fail to some relative or on their own. The children still manage to have adventures but its nice that the adults are close at hand.

Overall the Adventure series lives up to its name. It is adventurous, the tales are more daring and there is a realism to them. All in all, a really good read, and I read through them as quickly as I could because I was eager to know more about their adventures and characters.  I’m still not sorry that I didn’t read them in my childhood because I think I appreciate them much more as stories now. So if, like me, you have not read these fabulous books, then you really should find yourself a copy and get reading!

Up next: Stef’s first review – The Island of Adventure

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4 Responses to The Adventure Series: My first impressions

  1. Francis says:

    This was my first Enid Blyton Adventure series and made me hooked on Enid for the rest of my life. I agree with you, Stef that Bill and Allie are a very exciting couple who remain important to these books in a way that other Blyton adults are not. Glad you liked them so much. My favourites were Sea, Valley, Mountain and Circus – I love how the natural world is an important part of these stories.


  2. I am thoroughly enjoying reading other readers’ reviews, views and comments on books that I have been reading for 60+ years! Rather than comment under each review, I will add my little offering here, covering the series as a whole.

    Without a doubt this is, and always has been, my favourite series, followed by Famous Five, Barney and Find Outers – these in no particular order. Although Mountain was my first book of this series and Sea the last, I can’t remember the order of the remaining six but my firm favourite is Circus, closely followed by Valley. After that I would be hard pressed to choose! I am aware that River has come in for some criticism – I must admit that I had not picked up myself the perceived weaknesses. However, as the entire series is now due a reread I will see just how I fare with these comments in mind!

    Scenery and animals abound – these aspects always appealed to me as a child. I think the comment when reviewing Ship about the location being exotic to the children of the 1950s is very valid – when annual holidays tended towards a week in Devon or Cornwall, the Mediterranean visit by cruise ship was in itself exotic and exciting. I was 59 before I went on my first cruise (and that was to the Med) though I have made up for this lack of adventure since!

    The “Welsh” weakness in Mountain (as in Five Get Into a Fix) is a trifle annoying to me, having been born and always a resident of Wales and one who has at least a smattering of Welsh. EB clearly had little knowledge of the people or its language, but whereas any lack of knowledge concerning European or African countries might easily have escaped criticism sixty years ago, this would not have been the case in Wales. Certainly all of my friends were EB fans – and we all knew that Enid was not at her best when dealing with Welsh characters!

    There is certainly a much higher level of adult involvement in this series. Uncle Quentin and Aunt Fanny are quite major characters in FF, but they are not active in the plots in the same way that Bill and Allie are. Also, the “Baddies” are somehow worse (and in some cases quite evil) than in the other series.

    The books themselves stood out from any other series because of their larger size and the beautiful Tresilian full-colour dust jackets. As a child I can remember gazing at the spines of the books, on a high shelf which I could not reach, in our local branch of W H Smith (that was in the days when they were a proper bookshop and sold few other items other than books!) However, Tresilian’s excellent internal black-and-white illustrations were also far and away better than those in any other series, though Soper’s FF illustrations were, in my opinion, a good second.

    I never tire of rereading this series – if I were cast away on a desert island I would certainly have to have these books with me!

    Thank you for a really interesting and inspiring set of reviews.


  3. Anonymous says:

    jack is ur fav? how dare u! haha just kidding 🙂


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