by Jean Van Hamme and Grzegorz Rosinski
Well here’s a turn up – Last time when I reviewed Volumes 1-6 I was saying this:
“But, even though I did enjoy the Thorgal adventures, after reading five volumes in a couple of days I really think I’ve reached my limit. It’s good, but it just isn’t my favourite genre. I can appreciate Van Hamme’s writing and can enjoy Rosinski’s lush artwork, but that’s really as far as it goes. If Thorgal, which I’ll warrant is pretty near the finest example of the sword and sorcery fantasy comic genre, can’t really make me enthuse wildly, then I’m willing to bet nothing will. But if sword and sorcery is more your thing I imagine Thorgal will be perfect for you.”
And now, right after reading Volume 7, I’m going to tell you that Thorgal really is going out of it’s way to be an excellent book. So something very good has obviously happened with Volume 7, something that’s rather befuddled my expectations of Van Hamme’s sword and sorcery epic.
Like I said, I don’t like sword and sorcery. I never have. And I doubted I ever would. But this is Thorgal, written by Jean Van Hamme, one of the finest Euro writers around and the writer of such books as Largo Winch, XIII and Lady S . A classy act. And, after reading this volume of Thorgal, an author I shall never presume to know where he’s going with a series again.
(Thorgal’s entry to the story – lovely artwork from Rosinski from The Master Of The Mountains, published by Cinebook)
I sat down with this latest Thorgal volume expecting just another variation on what I’d read before; more swords, more sorcery, more buxom wenches, more fighting, more Thorgal basically.
And it all started as I’d expected, with Thorgal trekking his way through a snowy mountain region on his way back up north to his pregnant wife. He meets a young slave on the run from Saxegaard – the local bad guy tyrant sort and the self styled Master Of The Mountains.
So from here I figured I knew where it was all going, Thorgal would somehow get involved, Saxegaard would be overthrown, maybe there’d be some connection with Thorgal’s mysterious past somehow at the same time.
And then Van Hamme goes and throws us all (Thorgal included) into a time travel conundrum more complicated and devilishly engaging than anything you’ll see Doctor Who attempt. Absolutely not what I was expecting from the series at this point and a huge, and very welcome, surprise.
(Both those painfully removed fingers and that ring of strange material prove to be very important to the time twisting plot later on. From Thorgal Vol 7, The Master Of The Mountains, published by Cinebook)
There’s practically no point me going any further into the plot than this, since everything that makes it a great, time-twister-y story would be spoilt by giving any more details.
But suffice it to say that you’ll be needing a clear head to think it all through and keep up with the twists and turns and repeated bits of time travel. It’s ridiculously complex, but Van Hamme is always supremely in control of the story and wraps everything up with a twist right at the end that references one panel right back at the start of the book. Very satisfying storytelling. The art, as always, by Rosinski is lush, detailed and enjoyable stuff, particularly effective here with huge vistas of snowy valleys to complement his controlled figure work.
But one little note of warning on this one – this is possibly the most enjoyable Thorgal volume I’ve read purely because of the time twisting storyline that can be treated as a cleverly told story adrift from the greater storyline of Thorgal. I’ll be looking forward to the next volume and promise not to try to prejudge Van Hamme on his sword and sorcery tale anymore, but I just have a sneaking suspicion that we may be back to the ongoing tale and my resignation at the end of Volume 6 may just be coming back into play.