My rating: 2 of 5 stars
It’s been eons since I’ve read any of the Drizzit novels, but I liked them in my teen years. When I saw an amazing cover for this graphic novel, I pick it up. The art is very good – if you ignore the fact that the only female character has the typical comic book gravity defying boobs of doom and is traveling in a skimpy outfit in the cold woods just so we can all see her melon-sized boobs of doom. (one day comic books are going to move past this, some seventy years of evidence to the contrary).
This is the first graphic novel for Drizzit and it unfortunately seems to tie in to however his stories ended. I know Drizzit, of course and remember Pwent but Drizzit’s big-boobed and oddly shave-headed except for a long queue, companion Dahlia either came after I stopped reading the books or I cut her from my mind.
Drizzit and Dahlia are more or less roaming around looking for trouble when they stumbled across some goblins who have been pulled apart by what looks to be vampires. Or at least, Dahlia says vampires but Drizzit is leaning toward Dwarven battleragers, though he can’t explain the bite marks. They set off to investigate it. The reader, however, knows who it is as most of the story isn’t actually Drizzit’s, it’s Pwent’s.
Let me just call spoiler alert here.
oh yes spoilers.
Apparently, from whatever book this picks up from, the Dwarves didn’t fare well. Pwent was killed until he reawakens in full battlerager gear, as a vampire. There is a ghostly creature under the control of a the lich Valindra Shadowmantle, who is haunting him, trying to make Pwent take human life. The Dwarf is trying to resist it.
Eventually Drizzit’s path crosses his old friend’s and he’s horrified by what’s happened to Pwent. Dahlia wants to kill him but that’s all she ever wants to do. In the end, they join forces to try and get the ghost.
And then…they just give up. It wasn’t a bad story until then. It’s like what the hell? Drizzit and Dahlia leave and Pwent plans on sitting up to watch the sun rise so he can die. That isn’t exactly what happens but the story then just trundles to ‘the end.’ I could accept this maybe if that had been ‘to be continued’ but if this is really ‘the end’ then just plain old fashioned ‘boo.’ The story had no conclusion. It had no real point if they’re going to just chase the enemy for one night then say I’m tired, let’s go home (which is more or less what happened). Sigh.
It wasn’t a bad story up to that point. It wasn’t great either. Honestly, it felt like Drizzit was a side character in his own story. I don’t know who Dahlia is but she is not a strong character. She’s not much more (at least in this) than a stereotypic warrior woman. Almost all her dialogue is about killing the enemy or beating up people she thinks cheated her. She’s very two dimensional.
The art is very good and the splash pages between chapters are just beautiful for the most part. Given those, I was wondering if this had been a comic books series that’s now bound and maybe they only have a few books in which to cover their story but if so, they did it badly. Drizzit is hot in the art. That’s about the best thing that can be said for this.
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The Janus Affair by Philippa Ballantine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second book in the A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series. As of last book agent Eliza Braun, the ‘colonial pepperpot’ has been demoted from active duty to working in the archives with agent Wellington Thornhill Books. Naturally they are as unalike as possible, the well bookish Books and the woman of action Braun. This book overall worked better than the first. While the first book, Phoenix Rising, was good it had a tendency to go in too many directions at once and the characters were painted in broad strokes. In this one, the storyline is much more focused and the characters have settled in a bit.
It opens in media res with a suffragette leader disappearing in a blue flash from a moving train right in front of Books and Braun. As much as Eliza might want on the case, Dr Sound, their leader, isn’t about to let her do it. The case goes to Agent Bruce Campbell, an Australian womanizer who doesn’t much like Eliza and actively dislikes a ‘toff’ like Wellington.
Eliza isn’t about to let it go for two reasons: one she notices that this is not the first woman in the suffragist movement to disappear and that Campbell who is in charge of those cases too, has buried the files in the archive and two, she knows the suffragist leader Kate Sheppard. We get hints of a tragic past shared between the two of them which is why Eliza can never return to her much-missed homeland of New Zealand. Also with Kate is her son, the adventurer, Douglas, Eliza’s first love.
Wellington finds himself at loose ends. He knows he shouldn’t help Eliza but he’s in agreement with her, not to mention falling hopelessly for her. He is also sympathetic to the suffragist movement. The duo quickly come under attack in Eliza’s home and her maid, Alice with the prosthetic limbs containing weaponry, learns one of Wellington’s secrets: Eliza thinks he can’t shoot a gun but in reality he is sniper-quality. I can’t remember why he’s keeping it secret from her (we do get an explanation at the end of this book).
One by one more suffragists disappear. While Wellington, the happy tinker, figures out what device could do this, Eliza works with the women even if it might take her into the hands of a lady queen of thieves that Eliza’s own ‘ministry seven’ street kids have often had troubles with. Added into this hot mix is, of course, Douglas who wants Eliza back and Wellington fears will win out over him, seeing as he has never bothered to tell Eliza what he feels.
I was afraid I wasn’t going to like this one as much mostly because women’s rights is one of those hot buttons that make me nuts (especially right now after the last six months of crap in the States) but it was handled very well. Some of the political undercurrents from last book are still in here, including the Maestro who seems to lead the opponents to the Ministry and his pet Italian assassin, Sophia. The steampunk elements are handled with a light touch (thankfully, too many steampunk books I’ve read have to remind you every three seconds there is steam and clockwork) and this time the only place we see the words ‘colonial pepperpot’ is in the chapter titles (first book that euphemism was so over done, I started keeping count).
I was a bit surprised at how fast some things went in terms of relationships, inter personal and job. I’m really curious how the next book will go because I don’t see them carrying over those running themes if the book is going to be set where I think it is. This series is becoming quickly the most enjoyable steampunk I’ve read.
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