Page 45 Review by Publisher Blurb
This delivers everything you'd expect from the cover and more: high-octane, swashbuckling action, romance and skulduggery in an exotic setting.
Passions will be postponed or permanently trodden upon; lovers will be betrayed if not intentionally then by accident or tragic distraction; others will find themselves thwarted either because they cannot comprehend the true, giving nature of love - mistaking it for acquisition - or because the king who should command their marital affection and attention is actually more interested in the un-fairer sex.
Forgive me, but this is going to be a quick one even though the graphic novel itself will fill you up far further than you might understandably expect. The first third is packed beyond all probability with whiplash cause-and-effect actions, inactions, diversions, transformations, repercussions and reversals of fortunes without once relinquishing the author's deep love of language and extraordinary facility in its deployment. It could at any second so easily slide into the pitfalls of purple prose - of which, I own, I am an appalling abuser - but is rescued each and every time with linguistic gymnastics to keep it as free-flowing and exuberant as the art itself.
Throughout the art minded me of mid-period Kyle Baker when he first discovered digital. The art of Kyle Baker is at all times and during all periods a delicious, delirious thing.
From the creator of BRIGADA, a firm favourite of comicbook creators Bill Sienkiewicz, J.H. Williams III and Ben Templesmith: Fernandez is an artist's artist.
The entirety is presented as a piece of theatre by a masked person unknown, to a sometimes sceptical and impatient audience. (I use that comma carefully.) This is entirely apposite given that the finale itself is a similar piece of theatre designed to topple a throne. However, theatrics can be learned when the influence and impulse is right, so please don't suppose that your earlier actors have cracked. When all is revealed - and all will most assuredly be revealed - you may find that someone else entirely has taken the stage and carried the story forth.
We begin with a couple in love: Sian and Irvi, the pair you see snogging on the cover.
Neither is in possession of anything except exquisite beauty on the one hand, and preternatural acrobatic skills on the other - although Irvi is pretty fit on the other front too. They are separated by the cruel existence of The House of Princesses, a guarded hotel for hotties from which brides are bought, to which Sian's parents gladly sell her. Which is nice.
But the couple have come up with a plan. With his keen acrobatic skills, Irvi will invade the House of Princesses in the quiet dead of night to ravish Sian, so stealing her most Prince-prized possession: her virginity. Yeah, that doesn't work out, for others are in similar need and Irvi simply cannot say no. To his credit, he tries to, he really does - to begin with, anyway. But the House has many floors with so many in need and Sian is held right at the top.
I think we're on page twelve.
What follows is the most almighty conflict of interests, intent, emotional advantage-taking, individuality-expunging, socio-political artistic elimination; then potion-guzzling, side-effect exacerbating conflict and craving for international power.
I think we're still on page twenty-four.
And it's still scene-setting. What comes next is one almighty conflagration.