Academy Award - winning director, producer and actor Kevin Costner has signed with Atria Books for a thrilling and innovative new serialized illustrated adventure called The Explorers Guild --reminiscent of Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling, with the epic sweep of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The first book in the series, The Explorers Guild, Volume One: A Passage to Shambala} will be published in 2014. In the tradition of great books like Arabian Nights, the book will combine captivating storytelling with lush visuals to deliver a literate, wholly entertaining multi-book adventure that will be an exciting publishing event. Produced and developed with writer and art director Jon S. Baird, and to be illustrated by Rick Ross, the series will appeal to readers from young adult to more mature mystery and adventure enthusiasts.

A natural progression for Costner since it combines his passion for history, adventure, and storytelling, the project will be serialized across traditional and new media, first as a series of books, then as an animated series, and eventually as live action theatrical films, which he intends to produce and star in, with innovative directors behind the camera.

Behind the staid rooms of an old world gentlemen's club operates a darker, more mysterious organization: The Explorers Guild, a clandestine group of adventurers who seek out the places where light gives way to shadow and reason is usurped by myth. The secrets of this unknown world are hidden in mountain ranges and lost in deserts, sunk to the ocean floor and lodged deep beneath polar ice. The aim of The Explorer's Guild: to discover the mysteries that lie beyond the boundaries of the known world.

Set against the backdrop of World War I, with Western Civilization spiraling into chaos, the first installment in The Explorers Guild series, A Passage to Shambhala, concerns the Guild's quest to find Shambhala, the golden city of Buddhist myth. Each member is driven toward the City for a different reason: one believes that finding it will save his brother's life; another hopes that it will reveal a path to spiritual enlightenment. Some believe the power of the city can be used to restore peace, while others are certain that Shambhala is responsible for bringing mankind to the brink of apocalypse.

The search will take us from the Polar North to the Mongolian deserts, through the underground canals of Asia to deep into the Himalayas, before the City finally divulges its secrets and the globe-spanning journey plays out to its startling conclusion.

Commented Costner, "A heroic quest with the vivid wildness of Jules Verne, and steeped in world history but with mystical overtones, I believe that The Explorers Guild series will engage readers of all ages in a multi-generational experience that will lend itself to a host of entertainment platforms. As a storyteller and filmmaker, I am intrigued by the inherent resourcefulness, wit, and at times violent nature these characters embody, and I am truly excited to partner with Judith Curr and her team at Atria to bring this epic tale to readers around the world."

Judith Curr, Executive Vice President and Publisher of Atria Books, says "We're thrilled to partner with Kevin Costner and Jon S. Baird on The Explorers Guild. Their vision for this project is creative, sweeping, and innovative, and their commitment to the importance of a rich storyline truly won us over. The challenge and excitement of being able to redefine how commercial fiction is published is irresistible. We will be actively pursuing international partners to create a world-wide publishing event."

The deal, for World rights, was negotiated by Judith Curr with Rob Weisbach and Fonda Snyder of Rob Weisbach Creative Management representing Costner. Sarah Durand, Atria Senior Editor, and Daniel Loedel, Assistant Editor, will edit.