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Saturday, 1 March 2014

Best of 2013: Cinebook's Lament of the Lost Moors

Last year I had the pleasure of reading two books from Cinebook, publishers of English translations of Europe's finest comics, often called Bande Dessinée.  Bande Dessinée, or BD for short, means 'drawn strips'.  Comics are far more popular on the continent than in the UK, in fact Cinebook's website declares that 'one of every eight books sold in France is a comic book'.  I can only dream of such a situation in the UK!

Cinebook publish a wide range of European comics, from stuff created for kids to hardcore sci-fi, to fantasy, to romantic literature, to period drama and to crime.  You will find something for every taste in their catalogue.  All listings on their website give an age range as well, always helpful!

What follows is a short review of Lament of the Lost Moors: Siobhan.
Script: Jean Dufaux
Drawing: Grzegorz Rosinski
Colour work: Graza
Translator: Jerome Saincantin
Lettering and text layout: Patrice Leppert
Publisher: Cinebook

What's it about?
From the Cinebook website:
The land of Eruin Dulea is ruled by a powerful and merciless sorcerer. A generation ago, he defeated his last challenger to the throne, Wulf, in a titanic battle. Wulf’s widow, Lady O’Mara, and his daughter Siobhàn can finally stop hiding, though. By marrying Lord Blackmore, Lady O’Mara places herself under his protection. But Siobhan is a strong-willed young woman, more at ease with a sword than a spinning wheel, and Blackmore himself isn’t all he seems to be...

What's good about it?
Do you like historical fantasy?  Do you like women warriors?  Then you'll probably like this.  Siobhan is a young woman who clearly hasn't taken the ladylike role that most other women in her vicinity have.  The good thing about how this is written is that this doesn't seem like a big deal to other people in the book.
Other than that, this has a lot of the trappings of your regular fantasy books.  You have a medieval setting, power struggles, an evil sorcerer, mythic elements, weird creatures (in this case hiding in the pies and tormenting the castle's chief cook), bullying knights and wars.  This difference between this and mediocre fantasy is in the delivery of the characters and the relationships they have.  It's not sexist drivel where women just decorate the castle and are bartered by the men for power.  They may well make alliances for protection, and they may be subject to unwanted sexual advancements, but they aren't objects.  They are integral to the plot (they are the main characters) and we are given their motivations and their feelings about life.

What's bad about it?
It could do with a few more female characters.  Having said that, it was originally published in 1993, and treats it's female characters with more respect and fairness than most other books of the time.
What's the art like?
The art is lovely.  Rosinski and Graza have a really broad range, from countryside scenes with a feeling of peace and lightness, to castle scenes, bathed in darkness and villainy.  These pages are one of my favourites:
The dark demon creature is mesmerising and the use of black and purple colour turns this into a really special piece of comic art.

This page is a good example of the magical elements of the story:

The detail in this image is also worth noting:

More information
Price: £8.99
No ISBN available on the Cinebook website.
You can buy Lament of the Lost Moors direct from Cinebook here.  It is much cheaper there than on Amazon, so please go direct to Cinebook!
Check out our other reviews of Cinebook titles here, including Western also drawn by Rosinski.
If you want to read about other female warriors may I suggest you try Princeless and Demon Knights.

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