A sure bet for young readers who may be cultivating interests in ancient history.

READ REVIEW

BLACK SANDS

THE SEVEN KINGDOMS

This graphic novel collects the first three installments of young prince Ausar’s adventures in ancient Kemet.

Human civilization is 1,000 years old, and nations fight over finite resources as strange gods called “ancients” look on. Prince Ausar is the grandson of Rah, the current pharaoh of ancient Kemet. Ausar spent five years honing his impressive strength and speed under Rah, but the boy still has an impetuous streak. One day, the god and mentor Tehuti brings Ausar and several other powerful young royals—including Ausar’s sister, Auset, who can control weather and other aspects of nature; Seth, who can manipulate sand and other people’s perceptions; and Nehbet, who’s skilled in deception—to visit King Apedemak’s court in Kush. Ausar is eager to test his mettle against Kush’s son, Prince Bes, so they duel in the courtyard. Rah drilled a desire for battlefield perfection into Ausar, which pushes him to use a powerful move called “Soul Enforcement Mountain Strike.” The maneuver causes damage to the city and earns him a reprimand from his father, Geb, who wants him to be less like Rah. Meanwhile, sea monsters have begun destroying ships along the coast of Cyprus. Sobek, the god of crocodiles, warns Auset of this development and of an “aura of change” that follows the children. It turns out that war is brewing between Greece, Minoa, and other nations—including Kemet. In this richly illustrated collection, author Godoy (Cosmic Girls, 2019) and artist Lenormand (Mori’s Family Adventures: Rio de Janeiro, 2018) focus on aspects of early African and Middle Eastern history. Three adventure sequences are separated by informative sections that helpfully explain the mythology behind the characters and Godoy’s and Lenormand’s major changes; the Annunaki deities of ancient Sumer, for example, are from the planet Nibiru in this version of the tale. The sleek designs throughout offer a smooth reading experience that brings to mind Japanese manga. The characters have realistically varying skin tones; Seth has vitilligo, rendered with accuracy. The adventure will continue in a forthcoming installment.

A sure bet for young readers who may be cultivating interests in ancient history.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9994734-8-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Black Sands Entertainment

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An original project worth watching as it shapes up to something that may be quite magnificent.

BERLIN

BOOK ONE

This black-and-white historical narrative, written and illustrated by Lutes, collects eight volumes of his ongoing comic book set in Berlin during the late ’20s. It’s a multilayered tale of love and politics at the beginning of the Nazi era, as Lutes follows the stories of three characters: a 20ish art student from the provinces, a textile worker, and a young Jewish radical. Their lives intersect in only the subtlest way—Lutes depicts them crossing paths at some great public events, such as the Mayday march that closes this part of his book. And Lutes plays with perspective in a visual sense as well, jumping from point-of-view frames to overhead angles, including one from a dirigible flying above in honor of the Kaiser. At street level, Lutes integrates his historical research smoothly, and cleverly evokes the sounds and smells of a city alive with public debate and private turmoil. The competing political factions include communists, socialists, democrats, nationalists, and fascists, and all of Lutes’s characters get swept up by events. Marthe, the beautiful art student, settles in with Kurt, the cynical and detached journalist; Gudrun, the factory worker, loses her job, and her nasty husband (to the Nazi party), then joins a communist cooperative with her young daughters; Schwartz, a teenager enamored with the memory of Rosa Luxembourg, balances his incipient politics with his religion at home and his passion for Houdini. The lesser figures seem fully realized as well, from the despotic art instructor to the reluctant street policeman. Cosmopolitan Berlin on the brink of disaster: Lutes captures the time and place with a historian’s precision and a cinematographer’s skill. His shifts from close-ups to fades work perfectly in his thin-line style, a crossbreed of dense-scene European comics and more simple comics styles on this side of the Atlantic.

An original project worth watching as it shapes up to something that may be quite magnificent.

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-896597-29-7

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A not-very-illuminating updating of Chaucer’s Tales.

THE CANTERBURY TALES

A RETELLING

Continuing his apparent mission to refract the whole of English culture and history through his personal lens, Ackroyd (Thames: The Biography, 2008, etc.) offers an all-prose rendering of Chaucer’s mixed-media masterpiece.

While Burton Raffel’s modern English version of The Canterbury Tales (2008) was unabridged, Ackroyd omits both “The Tale of Melibee” and “The Parson’s Tale” on the undoubtedly correct assumption that these “standard narratives of pious exposition” hold little interest for contemporary readers. Dialing down the piety, the author dials up the raunch, freely tossing about the F-bomb and Anglo-Saxon words for various body parts that Chaucer prudently described in Latin. Since “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” and “The Miller’s Tale,” for example, are both decidedly earthy in Middle English, the interpolated obscenities seem unnecessary as well as jarringly anachronistic. And it’s anyone’s guess why Ackroyd feels obliged redundantly to include the original titles (“Here bigynneth the Squieres Tales,” etc.) directly underneath the new ones (“The Squires Tale,” etc.); these one-line blasts of antique spelling and diction remind us what we’re missing without adding anything in the way of comprehension. The author’s other peculiar choice is to occasionally interject first-person comments by the narrator where none exist in the original, such as, “He asked me about myself then—where I had come from, where I had been—but I quickly turned the conversation to another course.” There seems to be no reason for these arbitrary elaborations, which muffle the impact of those rare times in the original when Chaucer directly addresses the reader. Such quibbles would perhaps be unfair if Ackroyd were retelling some obscure gem of Old English, but they loom larger with Chaucer because there are many modern versions of The Canterbury Tales. Raffel’s rendering captured a lot more of the poetry, while doing as good a job as Ackroyd with the vigorous prose.

A not-very-illuminating updating of Chaucer’s Tales.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-670-02122-2

Page Count: 436

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more