The Illyrian Adventure (Vesper Holly, #1)

ISBN: 0141303131
ISBN 13: 9780141303130
By: Lloyd Alexander

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Adventure Childrens Fantasy Favorites Fiction Historical Fiction Mystery To Read Ya Young Adult

About this book

It's 1872, and adventurous Vesper Holly and her guardian set out for the tiny country of Illyria, on a quest for its legendary treasure. But once Vesper and Brinnie arrive, they are plunged into a fierce struggle between rebel forces— and someone is out to kill the two of them! If anyone can triumph over those kind of odds, it's Vesper — one of Lloyd Alexander's most intrepid (and best-selling) heroines.

Reader's Thoughts


If you had to create a list of traits that would describe the ultimate strong teen female character, you'd be describing Holly Vesper. Is there anything she can't do? Pros: Story takes place in exotic fictional North African country with interesting ethnic factions, cool legends/myths collide with real lifeCons: Even though narrator is a bumbling old dude, at least he's human--unlike the Goddess of Spunky Tenacity, Holly Vesper. I don't buy the romance (not with the narrator).




I read the entire Vesper Holly series -- or at least most of it, I can't quite remember -- around the time I was in 5th - 6th grade. I recall that I reread some of the books several times. They're swashbuckling adventures with a teenage Indiana Jones-like heroine and her guardian, who is the Watson to her Sherlock. I really enjoyed how the hero of this series is a girl who is sharp, reckless, and gutsy. I remember that these books were quick, easy reads in the sixth grade, and I reread this one -- the first in the series -- in a few hours today. There is definitely a nostalgia quality for me in rereading this book. Approach reading this book as you would watching an Indiana Jones-movie, with the same willingness to have fun and suspension of disbelief. Despite both series drawing on mythology and history, this series is in an entirely different genre than Alexander's THE PRYDAIN CHRONICLES and probably shouldn't be compared with it.

Catherine Mustread

A quick read featuring a strong young female protagonist, Vesper Holly, in the first of the Vesper Holly series. I like that Alexander set this in a realistic time and place - 1872 Philadelphia - although the action quickly moves to a fictional country suffering from civil strife and ethnic rebellions, much like some real countries today. I previously read this in 1986.


What's not to love about this book? It's perfect light reading for any strong-minded young women. The humor, adventure, and characters are delightful. Definitely one I'll keep in my library.


A good book for the reader that wants adventure that is not to complicated but not so obvious as to hit you with the ending to early. Vesper Holly puts you in mind of a young, female, Indiana Jones and the narrarator of a bumbling professor you can not help but like.


I've loved what I've read of Alexander, and this had a promising premise: a teen girl Indiana Jones in the late 1800's. Unfortunately the main character's a one-dimensional infallible omnitalented Mary Sue with no doubts or depth or meaningful conflicts.


This is such a fun series--Vesper is kind of a teenage girl Indiana Jones, so there's all sorts of globe-trotting and adventuring happening here, as well as the usual Lloyd Alexander humor. I'd love to read these again at some point.

Anthony Faber

Vesper Holly #1. About the same as the others in this series.


I really wanted to like this, but can only give... it's OK. Perhaps the series will grow on me as it progresses, at least I hope. Vesper is a character I would love to get to know better, but she comes across as too unrealistic, too smart, everything comes too easily for her. There's a problem - Vesper has the answer. Then there is her guardian Brinnie, who seems more of a bumbling fool than guardian. I liked this tale enough to want to give it a chance with another book or two. The subject matter is intriguing, archaeology, historical mystery, fueling kingdoms, deception, camaraderie and forging ahead no matter the cost.


Vesper Holly, the orphan of a well known archaeologist travels to exotic lands with her guardian and consequently taking on many extreme adventures. In this particular novel, they are seeking a treasure, and encounter villains who have it set to take away their lives. I admit, this novel had little deep moral message. As I have stated before, it is Nancy Drew meets Sherlock Holmes meets Indiana Jones. It is a pure plot driven entertainment book. I was however, so attracted to Vesper. She is this spit-fire girl who is incredibly smart, athletic, inventive and attractive. I suppose what drew me through the series was the infectious attitude of Vesper.

Althea Ann

A short, quick teen adventure from Alexander. Fun, but light, and not as good as the other book I've read from Alexander recently (The Rope Trick). "Illyria" is an old name for the area that now includes Croatia, where I was this spring (and which I'm still editing/uploading my photos from!), but I have to say i didn't get a very specific sense of place from the book. It's more of a fantasy-feeling country, although it's a historical adventure, not a fantasy one. Set in the 19th century, it has to do with a ridiculously self-sufficient and resourceful orphan, Vesper Holly (female and redheaded of course, I think Alexander's got a thing for them). Her new 'guardian', an elderly man who was a friend of her late father's, is quite overwhelmed by her, and is helpless in the wake of Vesper's headstrong notions, which involve running off to Illyria to investigate a theory of her father's, and result in both getting caught up in a political struggle between rebels and a clueless king. The interactions between Vesper and her guardian are quite funny, but the political situation is rather grotesquely simplified (and too easily fixed), considering the actual history of the region. Enjoyable, but I'm not rushing out to get the rest of this series.


I read this so many times as a young girl and still do today. Vesper is a heroine and a great role model. She reminds me of myself. If you like adventure, read this book. Suspense, comedy, and good old fashioned whimsy.

Kiera Beddes

Genre: realistic fantasySummary: This is Vesper Holly's first adventure. She goes to the country of Illyria, which would be something similar to the Balkan states and settles the dispute between two feuding races by solving an age old mystery.Response: Like I mentioned in another review of the Vesper Holly series, these are great, fast moving stories that offer a strong heroine. They share some similarities to Sherlock Holmes (mystery) and Indiana Jones (action) The arch-enemy Helvitius is truly awful and it is a joy to see Vesper triumph every time.


I just remembered reading this series as a kid. I loved Vesper Holly! Leave it to a James Bond movie to conjure up strangely tangible childhood memories, six degrees of the name Vesper.

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