Volume 1 of The Golden Age opens up in a kingdom that looks and feels very much like medieval France. Tilde’s king father passes away, leaving a starving peasantry and bickering nobility in her care. However, the night before her coronation, her younger brother and the barons rise up against her and usurp her throne. The barons believe Tilde when she says she wants to return more power to the peasantry, so they opt for backing a young child who will be controlled by the devious Vaudémont, the court advisor. Tilde goes on the run with two of her trusted knights, seeking a potential loyal baron on the peninsula. While fleeing, she discovers the lost Treasure of Ohman, a vast sum of gold that may help her turn the tide against her brother and the barons, and vol. 1 leaves off on a decimating cliffhanger

As vol. 2 opens, we see a large military force laying siege to the castle. There’s been quite a time jump, and a young woman, Tilde, fights against her brother, who is now a spoiled teenager. Tilde has used the considerable treasure she found in vol. 1 to pay the mercenaries for fighting against the castle, and the coffers have run dry. The only thing left is a chest that shines brightly and burns Tilde to look at it or try to open it. What’s worse, other forces are now marching on the castle from the Peninsula, wanting to secure their independence outside of the crown, ready to pin Tilde against the castle wall or ally with her—whichever will deliver their desires. Tilde is singularly focused on regaining her throne, and it just might destroy her faster than her grumbling mercenaries or any threats from the Peninsula. She must come to terms with what is best for her kingdom and make some difficult decisions in the battle against her brother and the barons.

The story of siblings fighting over the throne is one that has been told countless times, and this version doesn’t offer much of a variation from the trope until the very end of volume 2. There are some glaring holes in exposition and world-building—the cliffhanger from volume 1 isn’t expressly explained in the opening of volume 2, which leaves a disconnect between the two narratives. There’s also a secret society of women living in the forest that Tilde and her retainers discover in the first volume that is sort of “resolved” with one throw-away line in the second. The climax comes on very quickly and the resolution even quicker still, with several pages of textured colors and sparse text meant to give the reader some satisfaction that falls short of its intention.

While there could have been more attention paid to the characters and settings in the world, the art is absolutely stunning in this set of graphic novels. Full page and double page landscapes are common, and they are packed with beautiful details and interesting colorings. Much of volume 1 takes place in the forest of the kingdom, and Pedrosa’s imagination with color and wilderness design definitely transports the reader to this fantastical setting. There are many scenes that draw on Pedrosa’s experience with Disney, and many readers will probably see parallels with the era of Sleeping Beauty and the Sword in the Stone movies. 

This is highly recommended for any high school library collection with budding artists or a partnership with their art department. Public library readers may be drawn to the illustrations, but might be overall disappointed with the story. While there is some violence and bloodshed, and many characters die on page, there is nothing else that would make this an inappropriate selection for young adult/teen readers.

The Golden Age, vols. 1-2
By Roxanne Moriel, Cyril Pedrosa
Art by Cyril Pedrosa
First Second, 2021
Vol. 1 ISBN: 9781250237941
Vol. 2 ISBN: 9781250237958

NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18)
Creator Representation:  French

  • Sara

    | She/Her Teacher Librarian

    Sara is the Teacher Librarian at a high school in a small, rural town in California. Previously, she taught for 6 years in the English department at the same school. Her passion for manga began early in life when a friend introduced her to Sailor Moon. She jumped on the comics bandwagon with the popularity of comic-inspired movies, and she has recently come to enjoy publishers outside of the superhero genre. Graphic novels are a big hit at Sara's school, so she has carefully collected thousands of volumes that frequently fly off the shelves and into students' hands.

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