Dungeon Runners: Hero Trial

Dungeon Runners: Hero Trial

By Author / Illustrator

Kieran Larwood, Joe Todd Stanton



Age range(s)



Nosy Crow




Paperback / softback




An action-packed new adventure series from Blue Peter Award-winning author Kieran Larwood and Waterstones Children's Book Prize winner Joe Todd Stanton. Young readers will love discovering the world of the Dungeon Runners!

CALLING ALL DUNGEON RUNNERS - There's space for a new team of heroes. This is your chance to enter the leagues and fight your way to the top!

Kit has dreamed of being a Dungeon Runner all his life, although being a gnorf (part gnome, part dwarf) means he's much smaller than the other competitors.  But when a space opens up for a new team in the Dungeon Running League, Kit doesn't want to miss this chance to try out! With his new friends Sandy and Thorn, they're ready to take on anything - mazes, puzzles, monsters, treasure and most of all adventure!

Are you ready for the games to begin? Welcome to the Dungeon!  Find out more in our feature with Kieran Larwood.



Dungeon Runners Level 1: Hero Trial is a great book to put into the hands of those newly independent readers who are drawn to the fantasy titles their older siblings are reading. Here, in Dungeon Runners, they have a story which will stretch their reading skill by its use of language, plot and imagery while giving them a taste of what adventures need at this stage: plenty of action, lovable characters, a number of villains/bullies/monsters, and lots of humour.

Given their early introduction to on-screen gaming, many KS1 children will also enjoy the idea that our heroes Kit, Sandy and Thorn are entering into mysterious and dangerous realms when, as a fledgling team, they sign up for the latest Dungeon Runner quest. Children, especially those who have encountered bullies, will immediately side with the underdogs, relishing their strangeness. Whoever heard of a vegan vampire, a gnorf (half dwarf, half gnome) or a would-be sea hag who can only conjure sand castles?

Joe Todd-Stanton's pitch-perfect illustrations combine with clever page design and clear, helpfully large font style and size, to create a work that will surely fly off any library shelf. With the promise of one or more sequels, this might well become a much-requested series for home buying, too.

224 pages / Reviewed by Jane Rew, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 7+


Dungeon Runners Level 1: Hero Trial is a lively, fast-paced adventure quest full of fantastical creatures such as gnorfs (part gnome, part dwarf), trolls, giants and killer jelly monsters.  Kieran Larwood, one of my favourite authors, has taken the creative flair and imagination that brought the Podkin series to life and used it to build a world of wonderful adventure for the young reader. 

Together with the illustrations throughout by Joe Todd Stanton, this is a monstrously excellent combination of unlikely heroes trying to beat the odds to become the triumphant victor in the Dungeon Runner competition (well, top of the Bottom Feeder League, anyway - but everyone has to start somewhere).

Tiny, timid gnorf Kit Kitson is determined to show the Troggle bullies who blight his life that he is as fierce as they are and somewhat impetuously enters the Dungeon Trials with a sandcastle-building mage and a vegan vampire, armed only with a wooden sword and absolutely no idea of what lies ahead. This mission will take bravery, combat skills and powerful talents in order to defeat monsters, puzzles , traps and arch enemies. Do the trio of underdogs have what it takes? Can they believe in each other and in themselves to outsmart the others?

Dungeon Runners is a delight, an energetic, fun and mildly perilous quest game; think of a lighter-style Hunger Games for the much younger gaming and fantasy adventure fans. Larwood takes his joy in creating fantasy worlds and unique varieties of endearing characters who brave their fears to a new, younger audience, aided by fun and entertaining sketches. With Level 1 complete, I am sure there will be many more levels to face with team Triple Trouble in the near future!

224 pages / Reviewed by Jennifer Caddick, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 7+


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