In Honor of Christopher Columbus, These Are the Top 10 All-Time Tales of Adventure

It’s that time of year again when the overly offended liberals crawl out from under their Summer of crime and mayhem to decry and ruin all the best holidays. First up, Columbus Day – now shared with one of our more modern creations – Indigenous Peoples Day.

Poor Christopher Columbus is now only taught as a violent bringer of diseases and usurper of lands versus the maverick explorer he was. But this American isn’t having any of that nonsense.

Who doesn’t love a good adventure story filled with intrigue, danger, wonder, and tales of greatness?

No doubt Christopher Columbus did, and so without any further ado, here are the Top 10 epic adventure stories.

#10 – The Princess Bride – Movie

Suppose you are a member of Generation X or a Millennial like myself. You likely have watched The Princess Bride at least a dozen times in that case.

This movie came out in the late 1980s and was adapted from the book written by William Goldman. This adventure story has everything a young kid could want – swashbuckling pirates, tales of revenge, sword fighting, true love, and Andre the Giant.

Coupled with fantastic character names like Princess Buttercup and Prince Humperdinck, the movie and book are narrated by a grandfather reading the story to his sick grandson. Growing up, I loved this movie for the humor and sword fighting, and now, as an adult, I still love it for the same reasons but also the rather poignant lessons on love.

As Westley would say, “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.” Swoon.

#9 – Don Quixote – Book 

Often credited with helping inspire other great works of adventure based around chivalry, Don Quixote tells the tale of a low-born man named Alonso Quijano who becomes so entranced by tales of romance that he decides to revive the idea of chivalry, but under a new name – Don Quixote.

With his witty companion Sancho Panza, who is the best part of the story, Don Quixote goes about his adventure fighting imaginary enemies in a fantastic illusion of what he wishes the world was versus how it actually is.

In a time when forces are trying not just to bend but break the very fabric of reality into something sinister and dark, we could all use a little more fantasies with chivalrous knights, even if they are made up. As the book says, “To surrender dreams – this may be madness.”

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#8 – The Chronicles of Narnia – Book Series 

I loved these seven books growing up and look forward to reading them to my kids when they get older. The books tell the history of a magical land called Narnia that four siblings travel to from our world, and are called upon to do various things to protect Narnia from destruction.

Along the way, the children learn valuable lessons about themselves and each other. However, that doesn’t get in the way of the good old-fashioned fun of magic and epic battles.

These books are timeless, and if you are feeling lost in a world full of chaos, remember that someday, we will all be old enough to enjoy rereading fairytales as we did when we were young.

#7 – The Elder Scrolls – Video Game Series

For my video game lovers, one of the best adventure-style games out there with some of the most awards comes from The Elder Scrolls series, which includes my favorite, Oblivion. While I’m not typically a fantasy game player, I enjoyed the open-play style of these worlds, where I could explore various storylines and lands.

Set up like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, this video game series has garnered Game of the Year for three of the game installments. I always enjoyed playing these games as an Argonian, which is basically just a talking lizard.

Now that I’m a grown-up with kids, video games are no longer on my menu of acceptable hobbies, replaced by going to bed early after playing Wordle. But this would be my preferred game if I had the time and energy.

#6 – The Odyssey – Book 

A book on epic tales of adventure and travel is only complete with the OG of them all, The Odyssey. The name itself is used to describe a long, eventful, arduous, adventuresome journey.

Named after the Greek hero Odysseus, this collection of poems tells the story of his attempt to return home after the Trojan War. After angering Poseidon, the God of the sea, Odysseus is forced to battle various monsters, including my favorite, the Cyclops Polyphemus.

If you have yet to have the pleasure of reading The Odyssey, I recommend you do; the best part isn’t necessarily Odysseus’ bravery and strength, but his ability to outsmart his adversaries, who range from the monstrous to the godly.

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#5 – The Poseidon Adventure – Book & Movies

Everything about this story earns it a place in the Top 5 of my list. The book written by Paul Gallico is terrific.

The first film, released in 1972, starring Gene Hackman, is a classic, and the remake, released in 2006, starring the one and only Kurt Russell, did the story proud. This disaster story has an incredible amount of adventure mixed in as travelers aboard a cruise liner have to think fast, learn to cooperate, and have their bravery tested in a mad rush to survive a deep, watery grave.

Anytime either of these movies is on television, I stop to watch them no matter how many times I’ve seen them. You can’t go wrong between the heart-wrenching heroism of the 1972 original and the Kurt Russell and Josh Lucas yumminess of the remake.

#4 – Lost – Television Series

To this day, the single best television show is Lost. You can keep your Game of Thrones and your Friends – I’ll rewatch this series every year and still find critical details I didn’t see the first 46 times I’ve watched it.

Lost’s cast is filled with characters to both love and hate, sometimes simultaneously, and mysteries that, to this day, my husband and I debate over. The show begins with heart-pumping excitement on an island after a horrific plane crash.

The visuals and sounds make you feel like you are on the beach with Jack, Kate, and Sawyer trying desperately to get off the island, understand the island, and ultimately atone for their previous sins. I could probably quote the entire series, but perhaps the most poignant line comes from the main protagonist, Jack, “If we can’t live together, we will die alone.”

#3 – The Count of Monte Cristo – Book 

My mother’s favorite book makes it into the Top 3 on my list: The Count of Monte Cristo, written by the same brilliant mind behind The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas. For anybody who has ever felt wronged by those closest to them, this book is for you.

It has everything from love to banishment, treasure to deceit, and sweet, sweet revenge. The movies made from the book are alright, but to truly enjoy the tale of the Count, you really must read the book.

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This story teaches valuable lessons about hope, patience, and the value of time. The Count’s dedication to his revenge is almost a love story itself, a romantic endeavor into throwing oneself into a passion for reveling in the pure perfection of well-planned vengeance.

#2 – The Swiss Family Robinson – Book & Movie 

Growing up, I loved this book written by Johann Wyss and the movie that came out in 1960. Reading this book as a young girl, I would hang upside down on our couch, gobbling up every word, wishing I was living an adventure similar to this fantastic and resilient fictional family.

The story tells the tale of a Swiss family heading to Australia who become shipwrecked on a tropical island with just each other and some animals and supplies to their name. They eventually build a fantastic camp and explore the island they are on, finding many adventures, including another shipwrecked European named Jenny.

You can always tell if a child enjoys a book because they’ll roll all over the furniture and floor, never taking their eyes off the pages, which was how a young version of me was with this adventure tale in my hands. The movie is also a treasure and had my little pre-teen heart going pitter-patter for James MacArthur, who played my favorite character in the novel, the older brother Fritz.

#1 – ShoGun – Book & TV Miniseries 

My number 1 epic adventure tale is probably less well known than others on this list or even some not on the list; I’m sure my editor will have some words with me over my omitting Romancing the Stone from my Top 10.** But since this is my Top 10 list, I get to pick my #1, and mine has to be a story from one of my all-time favorite authors, James Clavell.

While not my favorite of Mr. Clavell’s Asian saga books (that would be reserved for TaiPan, which followed this book), ShoGun is still one of the best adventure stories out there, in my humble opinion. This book introduces the reader to the rich history of the colliding worlds of Asia and Europe in the 1600s, with everything from Samurai to pirates.

One can’t help but root for the entrepreneurial John Blackthorne as he attempts to survive and thrive in Japan amongst an utterly unique culture with new and exciting enemies. The book was later adapted into a television miniseries in 1980 starring Richard Chamberlain as the pilot Blackthorne that is equally as entertaining as the book, yet hard to find.

I, of course, have the DVD box set and all of the James Clavell Asian Saga novels. What can I say? I’m a sucker for pirates and Samurai.

** Kat has been properly reprimanded for leaving out Romancing the Stone, and has promised to include it in future adventure lists. – Ed.

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