Muirwood: The Lost Abbey
Written by Jeff Wheeler, Matthew Sturges, Dave Justus
Illustrated by Alex Sheikman, Lizzy John
This review is about the first issue of Muirwood: The Lost Abbey.
The first issue is very short it introduces us to Maia, a former princess whose father, the Emperor, has stripped her of her title and banished her to her grandmother's home. Maia suddenly is called back to the Imperial capital and told there is a mission that ONLY SHE CAN DO. Because you see she isn't just a princess, she isn't just a learned princess, but she is a magic-wielding princess. Its offhandedly mentioned a few times that women being able to read, let alone do magic, is a capital crime. Yet other than her hiding her necklace which everyone seems to know about there doesn't seem to be any consequence to her illicit knowledge. The story starts with her being ill. And other than her being "seasick" at the very end is never mentioned again. She doesn't recover, but she doesn't not recover. It's just forgotten.
The story doesn't seem to be able to decide if it is high or low magic. In the palace, it seems like magic is everywhere. It supplies, food, light, healing, water. But people act like it's a rare gift. Character seem to act illogically without motive and the story purposefully tries to trick the reader into false expectations of danger. After using her magic to fend off a gang of crippled muggers (why crippled? I have no idea), one of them says her magic won't stop him and then immediately runs away.
But the problems don't end there. The writing is very stiff and every character seems to be speaking in the same voice. Most of the writing is a description of what she is thinking. In a graphical novel, why describe everything in text? Why not show us?
The art also has issues, all of the scenes are very dark and generic. The characters are lacking detail to the point where expression is either absent or muddled and other than Maia many characters are hard to distinguish. One of the characters is supposed to be visibly scarred on his face and instead we get a line down one side of his face when viewed in profile.
All in all, I'm extremely disappointed. Maybe if you are familiar with Wheeler's novels you will appreciate this more. But as a stand alone work it doesn't make me very interested in continuing further into the 5 part volume.
I received a digital copy of this book for review from NetGalley and the publisher.