Many readers think that adventurous stories are tailored to children but that couldn’t be further from the truth, especially when adventure is combined with action and thrill. These are some of the most well-loved stories and can provide mixed emotions, thought-provoking themes, and fast-paced plot lines.
This genre is wide-ranging, often incorporating subgenres like law, crime, and governmental or military activity. If you’re looking for something in particular, it’s important to do some research because although something may be labeled as ‘action adventure’ or ‘adventurous thriller’, the stories encompassed within these genres are hugely different from each other and may not live up to your expectations
A good way to filter through the hundreds of books that exist under this overarching label is to read reviews and take a look at the keywords used to describe the authors or novels.
Another thing to consider is that although some authors may write fantastic action adventures, these may be anomalies and rather the author specializes in another area. This list will help to shed light on some of the authors who do concentrate predominantly on writing action adventures but some may also be famous for writing books belonging to other genres like crime, detective, or mystery fiction.
Many thriller plot lines are complex and multidimensional and quite often what makes them so interesting and captivating to read is that they overlap genre and incorporate a plethora of themes.
James Paul Czajkowski, most commonly known by his writer name, James Rollins, is an American adventure thriller writer. His writing has been labeled as ‘explosive’ and ‘enormously engrossing’ and incorporates multiple subgenres, such as history and mystery.
Rollins is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and his novels have been translated into more than 40 languages. His writing is grounded in thorough research and has been inspired by his travels across the States, Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand.
He is best known for the Sigma Force series but has additionally written 6 standalone adventure thrillers, and a middle-grade series. He is a wide-ranging novelist who relies on history, international relations, and espionage for his writing. Here are 20 authors that are similar to James Rollins.
As a former attorney, with thorough expertise in law and legal systems, Steve Berry creates historical thrillers, often featuring action and adventure subgenres. He has a smaller repertoire of novels compared to many other authors, having only written 5 novels as of yet.
However, these 5 works have decorated him with awards and have allowed him recognition by the American Library Association. His primary works include The Amber Room and The Columbus Affair, which were both best-sellers and leading texts in their field.
Dan Brown is one of the most reputable authors on this list. With over 200 million copies sold and film adaptations allowing him further success, Brown is well-recognized as one of the most influential authors in this genre.
His novels typically merge history, action, adventure, and mystery. He creates captivating stories that will get you thinking and keep you engaged and his protagonists are complex and compelling. His best-sellers include Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code, both of which were made into high-grossing films starring Tom Hanks as his enthralling main character.
This author is best known for his Eagles of the Empire series which covers the military and political workings of the Roman Empire during their invasion of Britain. His novels include fast-paced and dramatic action that incorporates violence and gore, so they’re not for the faint-hearted.
His books are historically accurate and have captivated the attention of many history lovers and action seekers across the globe. Like Robbins, Scarrow infiltrates the action genre with historical elements and uses intriguing characters to lead his stories.
This author has a passion for ancient Rome and has dedicated his life to researching and writing about the period. Taking a lead from films centering around ancient Rome, Fabbri has written a plethora of novels offering vivid depictions of the setting and period and realistic characters and plot lines which make the action-packed stories very enjoyable.
His major works include the Vespasian series and Alexander’s Legacy series. For brilliantly gripping, realistic, and vivid stories covering adventures in ancient Rome and Greece, Fabbri is a fantastic, lesser-known author to dive into.
This author is one of the leading authors in the historical fiction genre but his fast-paced, adventure-packed plot lines earn him a place on this list. Again, he specializes in books set in ancient history and provides fantastic insight into the lives of those living in ancient Greece and Rome.
His best-sellers, the Spartacus series, the Hannibal series, and the Forgotten Legion trilogy, have all been very well received worldwide and his books are some of the most accurate and gripping in their genre.
This author has a history in the military and is well-known for his ocean explorations. He has maintained an interest in history, with some of his first literary works being alternate history, one of which explores what may have happened if Lincoln wasn’t murdered but instead kidnapped.
He also produced some great maritime thrillers that follow a quest-like plot, taking protagonists through journeys involving shipwrecks, treasure, and enemies. These include The Titanic Secret and The Eye of Heaven.
Cornwell is best known as a writer of historical novels, producing less adventurous plot lines but more historically accurate novels. If you enjoyed the historical settings seen in Robbins’s work, you’ll love Cornwell’s work.
Known for immense detail and immersive descriptions, Cornwell has written many novels all tackling different historical periods. He has written about the English Civil War, the American Revolutionary War, the Napoleonic Wars, and Saxon England. His best-sellers include The Saxon Stories series which includes 13 novels all written about King Alfred.
This author typically incorporates gothic elements within her historical thrillers. Her novels have received a series of awards and span numerous time periods. She has written books set in Fascist Italy and 18th-century Paris and is now experimenting with legal and crime subgenres.
Mazzola is a lesser-known author than some of these other big names but her novels are still very much worth reading. The Clockwork Girl and The Story Keeper are both great choices if you enjoy fast-paced historical thrillers that incorporate fantasy and supernatural elements.
This author has written a plethora of novels that span the mystery, action, and adventure genres. His action-packed plotlines include elements of politics, crime, and murder. He usually publishes crime thrillers under the pseudonym Alex Walters.
Set in Mongolia, his Inspector Nergui series follows numerous detective squads as they follow the string of mysteries that an international criminal has left behind. These novels are gripping, action-packed, and include adventurous elements, as characters journey across countries uncovering clues. His DCI Murrain, DI McKay, and Detective Annie Delamere are also similar and are equally as enjoyable to read.
Another thriller/adventure author that meddles with the mystery subgenre is Ali Blood. As a previous crime reporter working in London, Blood has a range of real experiences that helps her to create realistic and engaging crime thrillers.
Ali Blood is not as well-known as some other authors on this list but her novel The Prisoner’s Wife has caught the attention of many readers and has received a plethora of great reviews. She continues to write and we’re hoping to see her recognition grow – watch this space!
Preston is well-known for writing adventure novels, some of which incorporate pirates and ocean journeying, while others include serial killers and crime.
He is a multidimensional author, meaning his novels are unpredictable and varied in genre. He is an author capable of creating completely different stories with the same compelling narrative.
One of his best-sellers, The Monster of Florence, follows the story that Preston uncovered himself. He moved to Florence and found clues leading to an unknown, deadly serial killer. His other adventure novels include Gideon’s Sword, Thunderhead, and The Cabinet of Curiosities.
Kaya has written some darker, more intense thrillers that cover murder mysteries and harrowing stories, some of which are inspired by events in his life. Kaya is a very talented writer, creating engaging plotlines and captivating characters.
This American author gained some intense experience while serving his nation. He worked in the US Army service and worked with military intelligence in Germany during the Cold War, which was one of the most politically turbulent places in Europe at the time.
With a degree in Political Science and years of experience traveling throughout Europe, Braunghart has a clear understanding of political networks, espionage, and military strategies. As a result, he has created some brilliantly captivating novels, such as Lost Identity, which merges US, Russian, and Iraqi systems and incorporates themes of espionage, friendship, and betrayal.
Australian author Matthew Reilly has written a series of action thrillers. He famously wrote the story that became the high-grossing film Inceptor, which follows a US Army captain who is tasked with intercepting 16 dangerous missile threats targeted at a variety of American cities.
Reilly is known for fast-paced, gripping narratives but his stories are often set in extreme areas and his characters endure harsh and long physical and mental journeys, allowing his work to branch into the adventure genre. His major works include Ice Station, Seven Deadly Wonders, and Scarecrow.
This author is an American king of ‘killer thrillers’. One of his best-sellers, The Last Patriot, was nominated for ‘Best Thriller of the Year’ and covers numerous time periods, geographical locations, and fascinating subplots.
It hones in on Islam – Thor’s graphic and innovative storyline sheds light on the complicated relationship between the Middle East and America. It dives into the history of the prophet Mohammed and follows the mold of an alternate history novel. Fast-paced, excellently written, and innovative both stylistically and thematically, this author is well worth looking into.
Selling over 6 million copies in 31 languages, Glenn Cooper’s work has significantly manipulated the thriller genre. Using a wonderful balance between reality and creativity, Cooper’s Library of the Dead trilogy has created a wide fan base across the globe.
The story concentrates on the discovery of a library filled with ancient texts which soon becomes attached to a mysterious serial killer. Following a story driven by secrecy, myth, and fast-paced action, the novel is very much worth the read for any action or mystery lover.
Known for her detective fiction, which closely follows the work of Carlotta Carlyle, an odd and strong woman with plenty of mysteries to solve.
Barnes’s novels are typically creepy, using an eerie setting and placing a deadly criminal at their core. It flirts with the horror genre, often leaving readers feeling uncomfortable, as they’re taken through tense plots that are guaranteed to keep you reading until the end. A Trouble of Fools is the first in her Carlotta Carlyle series.
Suspense, mystery, action, satire, horror, adventure, and fantasy are just some of the things you can expect from this multifaceted author. Dean Koontz has used a plethora of pseudonyms making it difficult to trace his work back to him.
Whispers was the novel that helped him break into the mainstream literary scene and his best-seller Demon Seed allowed him to become a household name. He has sold over 450 million copies in total and his thrillers remain among some of the most-read action books ever written.
New York Times best-selling author Rebecca Cantrel is best known for her series following crime reporter Hannah Vogel during the transformation period in 1930s Berlin. A Trace of Smoke is the first in this series.
Her work incorporates history, crime, politics, and mystery providing a great series to delve into for any reader.
Jack Du Brul
Known predominantly for his Philip Mercer books, Jack Du Brul’s work uses the influence of technology to fuel his thrillers.
His iconic protagonist Dr. Philip Mercer is a geologist and mining engineer who gets wrapped into many of the mysteries and international threats that intimidate his country. The Lightning Stones and Vulcan’s Force are two of Du Brul’s best-sellers.
Action-adventure is a wide-ranging book genre, filled with plenty of potential new favorites for you to enjoy. These 20 authors can provide some brilliant books to add to your reading list and can open your eyes to new perspectives, ideas, and dramas.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most famous action-adventure book?
Treasure Island is known as one of the most popular and well-read action-adventure novels. However, it is tailored towards children or YA audiences, so the themes and writing style may not be what adult readers are searching for.
What is the difference between adventure novels and action adventures?
Adventure novels are typically grounded in realism (unless they’re fantasy adventures) but follow a quest of some sort, leading the protagonists on a journey filled with mystery and unusual encounters. Action-adventure simply means that the journey is more action-packed and perhaps more dangerous.
Are action adventures always novels?
No, the format of action-adventure stories can vary. Graphic novels and comic books can tell action-adventure stories, however, many of these are tailored for younger audiences or incorporate fantasy. For example, many superhero stories are classified as action adventures but aren’t realistic.
Who is the most famous action-adventure writer?
Miguel de Cervantes with his famous novel Don Quixote and Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote Treasure Island are frequently known as two classic action-adventure writers.
Is Harry Potter an action-adventure novel?
Yes, the Harry Potter series is technically an action-adventure but it is predominantly known as a fantasy.