Long, long ago, an evil warlord named Mordath nearly conquered the Five Lands of Quin. They banded together against him, and defeated him with the help of a great warrior named Ayden. Ayden’s origins were a mystery, he called himself simply “a king who wishes be king no longer.” Although the people of the Five Lands begged him to stay and rule them in peace, he refused. He did, however, scatter five pieces of an arrow from his bow across Quin. If threatened again, the Five Lands could call Ayden back by reuniting all the fragments. Over time, the names of Mordath and Ayden passed into legend– until a mysterious being resurrects Mordath and grants him a terrible new power. Now it’s up to one mortal woman to summon Ayden and fight back against this tyranny.
Clearly, we’re in classic fantasy territory here: trolls, swordfights, sorcery, and a quest that must be completed against all odds. Our heroine, Arwyn (just in case you missed the Tolkein influence!), lost her husband and child when Mordath’s troll army sacked her city. Since that day, she’s only wanted one thing: vengeance. Arwyn and her dog, Kreeg, risk certain death sneaking into Mordath’s castle. It’s there that she meets Gareth: a one-eyed stranger with a sharp wit. Cornered by enemies, Arwyn and her new companion are saved by the enigmatic Neven. Their savior presents Arwyn with a task: Neven asks her to put aside her desire for revenge and take up the quest for the arrow. Need I add that rip-roaring adventure follows? All this is done with CrossGen’s usual excellent taste. The art is rich and detailed; the coloring is gorgeous; the banter is witty. I can’t wait to see where the story goes, as Arwyn, Gareth, and Kreeg venture into distant lands to find the hidden fragments. We get brief glimpses of Quin’s other inhabitants, and they’re fascinating: winged men and women, blue-skinned folk with pointy ears. My only quibble would be that the human characters all share the same handicap: they’re unnaturally pretty. Arwyn’s…um…figure in particular is bound to raise eyebrows. This being a CrossGen comic, however, you can rest assured that she has a personality too.