Thursday, August 20, 2015

ARC Graphic Novel Review: Tooth and Claw (The Autumnlands, #1)

Author| Kurt Busiek  Artist| Benjamin Dewey  Rating| 4.5 Stars
Edition| eGalley courtesy of Image Comics via Netgalley  Release Date| July 14th, 2015

I received a copy of Tooth and Claw from Image Comics via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this book, but it blew my mind!  I pretty much only ended up reading it because it was a "read now" option on Netgalley and I needed some new graphic novels.  I didn't read the description, barely glanced at the cover- just enough to know it was epic fantasy of some sort- and loaded it onto my computer.  So when I started reading it and realized all the characters were animals that walked and talked like humans you could say I was surprised.

So in this world there are no humans.  The races are different types of animals- all sorts from birds to dogs to boar to bison.  And it was a slight adjustment and a bit strange at first to see them all humanized.  But the art did a remarkable job of doing so, and it was easy to swallow.  In this world hard times are upon the people.  So a group of wizards rebel agains the orders of the council and try to bring the famed "Great Hero" from the past using a dangerous portal spell.  While doing the spell they completely destroy a city, causing it to fall from the sky.  Many people are killed and the survivors are left to fend for themselves against their enemies on the ground.  Still, they manage to bring the "Great Hero" through, and he becomes their only hope.

The politics in this book are so interesting to read.  There's no clear good guy in the story (we know we're cheering for Dusty and Leroyd, but other than that, there's no clear protagonists) and each of the varying groups have their own pro's and con's.  Even those that are a bit distasteful earn your respect because they're fully realized characters with their own whims and wishes.  This is one of my favorite things about the fantasy genre, and this is a perfect example of it done right.

One of the most amazing parts of the whole thing was the plot.  Rather than having one ingenious and innovative idea, there were several.  It was as if Kurt Busiek just had so many ideas, rather than write many stories, he combined them beautifully and flawlessly into one.  Rarely do I see it done so well, especially because this is a cross between epic fantasy and futuristic sci-fi.

The art was very graphic in it's violence and carnage, and while it didn't wow me beyond some of the other things I've read lately, it did exactly what it's meant to do- enhance the story.  It was on par with the whole graphic novel and made the experience so much more enjoyable and understandable.

So why not five stars?  I've clearly talked this one up quite a bit.  Well, at the beginning of each chapter there was a passage.  Some of them I liked, others just felt like they came out of nowhere.  If they had been left out of the completed project I probably wouldn't have felt like anything was missing.  While they did add to the backstory, this also made the whole thing a little more confusing.

Really, if you don't mind some gore, this is a great fantasy for you.  Click here to add it to your goodreads.

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