This fourth volume in the Three Thieves series focuses on the backstory of the main villain of the piece, Captain Drake. Told alternatively in a palette of bright colours (the present) and black-and-white (flashbacks and memories), this volume explores the rationale behind the actions of a character who, in previous volumes, has been (pardon the pun) portrayed as an unsympathetic black and white character with little depth. The book also has a darker tone than the previous books, a prelude, hopefully, to a deepening story arc beyond the basic but satisfying quest story that has already been established.
Our intrepid heroes barely make an appearance here. The reader is reminded that Dessa has been hurt, and that Topper and Fisk have taken her to a remote monastery to allow time for her broken leg to heal. The reason for Captain Drake’s unending persistence in attempting to capture the three thieves is unveiled through the flashbacks, while the action of the overall storyline remains fairly static–allowing time, perhaps, for Dessa’s leg to heal? That is not to say that the book is lacking in action, but most of the action has already happened in the past. When Dessa does make an appearance, during the third act of the book, fans will be cheering her on as she maneuvers around the great captain and makes her clever escape into the next installment. Her two companions, Topper and Fisk, only make an illusionary appearance in this episode. The story ends on an ironic and mysterious cliff hanger.
Brief splashes of humour are still found in the story, both in the dialogue and the characters’ nonverbal reactions. Chantler’s artwork is clean, with a focus on the characters’ faces and body movements rather than backgrounds, which are often simply a wash of an appropriate colour. The black and white segments are primarily awash in gradients of greys, somber and thought-provoking. Action-packed and character-driven, The King’s Dragon is a welcome and recommended reading experience for younger readers.
Three Thieves: The King’s Dragon, Book Four
by Scott Chantler
Kids Can Press, 2014
Publisher Age Rating: 9-12