During the 17th century in the French-Swiss Alps, the Waldensians—a religious group deemed heretical and heavily persecuted—live out their lives under the Duke of Savoy’s reluctant toleration. When a representative of the Duke tries to bully a family burying their father, Joshua Janavel, a peasant farmer, stands up to him. Through his defiance, Janavel ignites and leads a religious rebellion.
Lion of Rora is an engaging and tauntly plotted story based on true events. I found myself flying through the pages because I had to know how Joshua and his men were going to face the next challenge. The story balances action-packed battles with tender portrayals of Joshua with his family and fellow Waldensians. These details helped me to understand Joshua Janavel as a person and the oppressive situation he was fighting against. The storytellers effectively weave small details into the dialogue and art that helped me to get a sense of the historical context without overpowering the narrative.
Speaking of art, Jackie Lewis does a great job. Lewis’s black and white drawings are highly textured and detailed, bringing the setting and characters to life. I especially loved the facial expressions on the characters, who are all drawn with careful attention to detail.
Lion of Rora will appeal to fans of underdog tales, history lovers, and educators. The creators have built a custom website for educators and students that offers common core study guides, a lesson plan, and a bibliography of additional reading materials.
Lion of Rora
by Christos Gage, Ruth Fletcher Gage
Art by Jackie Lewis
Oni Press, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: Young Adult