This graphic novel does a good job of dealing with a fundamental question I always have in nearly every fantasy novel, movie, cartoon, video game, or anything else. It deals with it, but doesn’t fix it, but still it’s something. It’s a common issue with the genre for me and something I am not sure I will ever figure out so long as I persist in reading (etc) fantasy.
That fundamental issue is: how does the world function?
What I often understand about fantasy worlds as I encounter them is how the politics are set up, some sense of the history leading up to this moment, the nature of the social hierarchy, but not like how people live their lives. I am not saying that this graphic novel fixes any of that, but I do begin to get a sense of this world (with some help of interstitial information dumps) more so than so many other books. One issue with fantasy in general to me is that it relies so heavily on a comparison with/comparison against our world or cultures within our world that so much of this everyday life is taken for granted. There are lots of great writers who try to make this more transparent: Ursula Le Guin and Iain M Banks come immediately to mind as writers whose universe building skills are so sharp that sometimes narrative doesn’t really enter into it. I also have a problem with how idiom functions in fantasy worlds: why does a dragon living in XXX know to say ______? and things like this. Sci-fi tends to work around this, but I think this is a real failing of so much fantasy.
So it’s nice to come across a graphic novel that works that into it. I think the art is really good in this book and the writing is interesting and sound.