Artesia, vol. 1

Artesia’s world lies somewhere between ancient Rome, ancient Greece and medieval Byzantium. Artesia was born and raised to be a courtesan in the royal household, but when war came she became a battle commander. Artesia is classic fantasy material done extremely well. I have read more than my fair share of bad fantasy novels, and finding fantasy executed with this level of skill is very rare. Mark Smylie has created a rich historical, political and religious background for his novel. Artesia is a real character, and she makes her choices with awareness of what they will cost herself and others. She uses all the weapons she possesses, from wily seductions to force of arms, to acheive her goals (it’s the seductions as well as the appearances of goddesses and spirits, all displaying a good bit of bare flesh, that push this volume firmly into the older teen and adult category). Working with watercolors Mark Smylie paints a rich picture of Artesia’s world. The precision and detail that he puts into the images in combination with the lush colors creates a vibrant whole. My only quibble with the book is that for inexplicable reasons Artesia consistently goes into battle in a chainmail thong, which just seems impractical, but that really is a minor quibble in what otherwise is a well written and beautifully illustrated graphic novel.

Artesia, vol. 1
ISBN: 9781932386226
By Mark Smylie
Archaia Studios Press 2003

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