Kazu Kibuishi returns to the complex world of Amulet in the fifth book in the series, Prince of the Elves. While this book continues the story of several main characters, it focuses mainly on Emily’s journey to discover why she was chosen as a stonekeeper and her role in the fate of the alternate fantasy world. The story opens with a flashback to the childhood of the renegade stonekeeper, Max Griffin. In a desperate attempt to save his elf friend and himself, he defied his father and the king and became an outcast fugitive. Back in the present, Emily and her friends are scrambling to keep up with events after Max’s betrayal and the discovery of deep-rooted corruption and dark secrets in the previous volume. Under the guidance of Vigo, Emily discovers more unsettling truths about the stones and continues her uneasy alliance with the elf prince Trellis. More of Trellis’ history is revealed through a dangerous trip back through time. Meanwhile, Emily’s younger brother Navin and their human, animal, and mechanical friends are experiencing their first battle. In a final sequence, Emily accepts the stone’s challenge to play its mysterious game.
The galley provided for review had color only for the first 28 pages, Max’s flashback. However, Kibuishi’s gorgeous art shows through even the gray shades. Mysterious caverns and islands, the strange dream world of the stone, explosive air battles, and more spread out through the story in Kibuishi’s trademark cinematic style. There’s nothing lost in the smaller details either; there’s a simple poignancy expressed in just the shape of Navin’s eyes as he watches a friend and her father, Trellis becomes a more relatable character as the reader follows his facial expressions during his interactions in the past, and Emily’s calm resignation and the haunting atmosphere of the mysterious cavern and statues she passes through to accept the game in the tense final moments of the story, are all drawn with imaginative detail and perception.
The Amulet series has a powerful theme of choices running through it and this latest title continues that theme, facing the characters with decisions that will impact everyone. Emily and Navin continue to struggle with the responsibilities thrust upon them: Navin in the army where he has his first experience with war, and Emily on the metaphysical and physical planes, as she fights to control her stone and understand the deadly secrets that surround her. The story takes a darker turn as the reader begins to see the darkness behind the stones and the grim consequences of choices made decades before.
It’s necessary to read the previous four volumes to figure out what’s going on and who the characters are in this latest installment. There have been major changes in loyalties and alliances and without the backstory the many different plotlines can get confusing fast. However, this won’t be a problem for the many enthusiastic Amulet fans waiting for the next story. The price for the library bound edition is a bit painful, but well worth the investment. Hand volume one to fans of Bone and Missile Mouse, as well as middle grade kids who like fantasy adventures with plenty of plot twists and cliffhangers, and stock extra volumes of this latest installment for dedicated fans who can’t wait to see what happens next in the world of Amulet.
Amulet, vol. 5: Prince of the elves
by Kazu Kibuishi
Scholastic Graphix, 2012