Alexis E. Fajardo has returned with another exciting installment in his Kid Beowulf graphic novel series (see my previous reviews of volume 1 and volume 2). In this third installment, entitled Kid Beowulf. vol. 3: The Rise of El Cid, it is 1068 and Spain is a nation divided into kingdoms consisting of both Christian and Muslim rulers. A number of citizens are forced to choose sides, leading to conflicts between rulers and soldiers, especially within the kingdoms. As these events continue throughout the land, the two heroic brothers, Beowulf and Grendel, find themselves on the sidelines as they try to find their way home.
Rodrigo Diaz, later to be called El Cid, is a young knight from Spain who follows the chivalrous rules of all knights. However, when his beliefs result in the death of his high commander, he is banished from the kingdom of Castile, along with two of his close friends. The group finds themselves in the small town of Calahorra, recently destroyed by the king’s champion when the citizens could not pay tribute to their ruler. After hearing about their recent battles, the former soldiers are called upon to defend the town from an upcoming invasion, receiving help from former allies and new ones. Meanwhile, Beowulf and Grendel find themselves lost in Spain and being pursued by two former enemies from Daneland. They are discovered by a small group of pilgrims from Britannia who believe the brothers are the gods Mithras and Tauro. At first the boys and the Danes play along in hopes of returning home, but things soon turn complicated when they find themselves in the middle of a battle in Calahorra.
For this new adventure, Fajardo choses the Spanish epic The Song of My Cid for his story and characters. He retells this ancient poem using a combination of dramatic scenes and comedic characters, along with plenty of action panels that keep the reader’s attention. The characters’ motives and personalities help the story along, whether they are seeking revenge or redemption. Even the brotherly banter between Beowulf and Grendel provides some dramatic action and a few comedic asides. Fajardo continues to use his cartoon artistic style, with a vibrant color palette, unique character appearances, and comedic onomatopoeia. But what makes this series interesting is Fajardo’s extensive research into his chosen setting and characters, especially iconic figures or lesser known ideologies. For the third book, readers are introduced to the ancient Mithras religion, the historical figure of Boudica, and a fencing style called La Verdadera Destreza. Readers can learn more about these individuals and other historical ideals in the book’s More To Explore section, which can be found in the last few pages.
Kid Beowulf, vol. 3: The Rise of El Cid is a great choice for young readers who enjoy mythological and adventure stories. Fans of the graphic novel series will be thrilled with this latest book and look forward to the next adventure. Public and school librarians will want to have this latest installment on their shelves, especially for their 3rd-6th grade readers.
Kid Beowulf, vol. 3: The Rise of El Cid
By Alexis E. Fajardo
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12
Series Reading Order: https://www.goodreads.com/series/198381-kid-beowulf (Wikipedia or Goodreads)