The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins Book Poster Image
Graphic novel parodies fantasy gaming with skill, affection.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Adventure Zone explores the traditions of fantasy role-playing games. The emphasis is on action-packed laughs, rather than education.

Positive Messages

You ought to be able to rely on your friends, even though they might disappoint you sometimes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Taako, Merle, and Magnus are each scoundrels of a sort -- ready for a fight or some light thievery. They generally wind up doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.


The main characters fight and kill annoying gerblins, as well as an evil magician, trained wolves, and a giant spider. The climax of the novel involves blasts of magical fire. The violence is more cartoonish than upsetting.


The characters swear frequently in The Adventure Zone. One of the first sections of dialogue includes "f--k," which is subsequently used perhaps a dozen times. "S--t" is used about as frequently, while "hell," "damn," "goddamn," and "a--hole" are used less often.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink cocktails and from a flask of brandy.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins is a fantasy graphic novel based on a popular podcast performed by the McElroy Brothers and their father. Swearing is frequent, with at least a dozen uses of "f--t" and "s--t" and less frequent use of "hell," "damn," "bastard," and "goddamn." Violence is mostly directed toward trained wolves, giant spiders, and the gerblins -- small, annoying orc-like guys who bleed green blood -- until the climactic magical firefight. One character drinks brandy and cocktails.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMarq August 12, 2018

A fun story that makes for a good light read

I will say first that I have listened to the podcast, and this represents just the first in what will be a series of novels whose characters and complexities co... Continue reading
Parent of a 12-year-old Written bynikitabonita January 27, 2021

Lots of swearing

This book is amazing but there is a lot of swearing. Some violence but not a lot of blood (unless you include goblin blood).
Teen, 15 years old Written byThe odd duck January 22, 2021
Teen, 13 years old Written byLoopeyfluff March 31, 2020


The graphic novel of the adventure zone is an amazing read! That is, if you’ve already listened to the adventure zone, most of it’s funny humour fell right over... Continue reading

What's the story?

As THE ADVENTURE ZONE: HERE THERE BY GERBLINS opens, elf wizard Taako, dwarf cleric Merle, and musclebound human warrior Magnus arrive too late to protect the clients they're supposed to guard. Their search for survivors leads them to various magical adventures, through which they lie, scheme, and break the fourth wall by consulting with their Dungeon Master. They will battle an evil wizard, fight wolves and giant spiders, and face a gauntlet of mystical fire, surviving against all odds before reaching a destination beyond their imaginations. 

Is it any good?

With its convoluted rules and sometimes absurd obstacles, fantasy gaming is ripe for parody, and this graphic novel satirizes the genre with skill and affection. Taako, Merle, and Magnu aren't as smart as they think they are, and the McElroy boys enjoy tossing them from one hair-raising situation to another in The Adventure Zone. Cary Pietsch's artwork is vibrant and expressive, although sometimes cramped, especially during fight scenes. The offhandedly vulgar dialogue is geared for older teens, and while the story is action-packed, it is not particularly memorable. The ending of this volume announces an unforeseen plot twist likely to lure readers back for more.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins integrates aspects of role-playing fantasy games. Why have games like Dungeons & Dragons been so popular for so long?

  • How is humor used in The Adventure Zone? How can satire and parody be used to explore aspects of popular culture?

  • How is violence used in The Adventure Zone? Is violence more acceptable when it's cartoonish? Is it easier to laugh at violence directed toward nonhumans?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels and fantasy

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