Williamson - Book Reviews

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**** - Good
*** - Okay
** - Bad
* - Terrible
+ - Half-star

Birthright Volume 1: Homecoming
(The Birthright series)
Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan, creators
Skybound
Fiction, YA Fantasy/Graphic Novel
****

DESCRIPTION: The day young Mikey Rhodes disappeared was the day the family shattered. Many suspected his father, Aaron, of killing the boy and hiding the body... even his wife Wendy. Only Mike's older brother Brennan stuck by him, refusing to give up hope. Then one day, a year later, the FBI summons the Rhodes to their offices. A strange man, dressed and armed like some bizarre fantasy barbarian, was found by the highway... and, according to fingerprints, that bearded, battle-hardened man is the boy Mikey. He claims he was abducted to a fantasy world to fulfill a prophecy by destroying an evil lord, and has returned to Earth to hunt down five mages who might let that evil take root here - but is he telling the truth, or has he been corrupted by the very entity he was prophecized to destroy?

REVIEW: Birthright offers a nice twist on the usual "Earth kid gets whisked away to become a hero in another world" story, showing the devastation left behind as his family struggles to come to terms with his disappearance... and the changes that being forced into a warrior life can wreak on even the nicest boy. Deep within the heart of the jaded, battle-hardened and compromised man he has become, Mikey is still a little lost boy at heart who wants nothing more than to go home, and he's not about to let anything get in his way.Meanwhile, Aaron refuses to let this opportunity to reconnect with his son slip away, even if it means becoming a fugitive, and Brennan (once the older brother, now just a kid beside his Conan-like sibling) can't help falling in as an impromptu sidekick, still somehow hoping that his broken family can be mended... though even he begins to wonder if he truly recognizes Mikey anymore. And Wendy, the mother, once again feels the burden of being the sensible, responsible one, left behind by the boys while she stays with law enforcement (and her new boyfriend) to do what she believes is the right thing and hunt down the "dangerous stranger" claiming to be her lost son. Flashbacks show the young Mikey's journey and its inauspicious start in Terranos, introducing characters that look to come into play in future volumes. It's an interesting story, moving at a fair clip, with great artwork (that leans a little gory at times, as a warning to younger or more sensitive readers.) I'm looking forward to the next volume already - I'll have to see if Hoopla has it available yet.

You might also enjoy:
The Everworld series (K. A. Applegate, YA Fiction - Four Chicago teens are pulled into a world where magic and elder gods reign)
A Princess of Mars (Edgar Rice Burroughs, Fiction - A Civil War veteran finds himself transported to the dying, hostile planet Mars)
Gregor the Overlander (Suzanne Collins, YA Fiction - A modern boy and his toddler sister fall into a dark, strange world beneath New York City)
King: The Graphic Novel (Joshua Hale Fialkov, Fiction - The illustrated adventure of the last man alive in a darkly humorous post-apocalyptic, monster-filled Los Angeles)
The Tower (J. S. Frankel, YA Fiction - A dying boy stumbles into an alternate Earth, where comic book heroes are real)
Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman, Fiction - Helping a wounded homeless girl pulls an ordinary man into the bizarre, invisible realm of LondonBelow)
Fairy Quest: Outcasts (Paul Jenkins, YA Comic - In the fairy-tale realm of Fablewood, forbidden friends Red and Woof must escape the totalitarian rule of Mister Grimm)
The Divide (Elizabeth Kay, YA Fiction - A sickly boy accidentally falls into a world where magic is real and humans are myths)
The Dark World (Henry Kuttner, Fiction - A World War II vet finds himself in a parallel world of magic, fighting memories of an alternate, evil self)
Every Heart a Doorway (Seanan McGuire, YA? Fiction - A teen attends a special boarding school to deal with the psycholgical aftermath of having been to a magical world)
Un Lun Dun (China Miéville, YA Fiction - Two English schoolgirls find their way to the bizarre "abcity" mirror of London, where a prophecy goes wrong)
The Rhyme of the Willow series (Justin Sullivan and Samuel Sullivan, YA Fiction - Following a vivid dream, twins find themselves pulled into a dark world where plants run amok)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Catherynne M. Valente, YA Fiction - An Omaha girl travels to Fairyland for an Adventure, and finds herself fighting an evil Marquess)
The 100 Cupboards trilogy (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers magical cupboard doors leading to other worlds)
The War of the Flowers (Tad Williams, Fiction - A man enters the fairy world, where magic parallels technology and a war with humanity is on the horizon)

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Birthright Volume 2: Call to Adventure
(The Birthright series)
Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan, creators
Skybound
Fiction, YA Fantasy/Graphic Novel
****

DESCRIPTION: Mikey Rhodes was an ordinary boy - or so he thought, until he was abducted into the magical world of Terranos to fulfill a prophecy by slaying the evil god-king Lore, slave of the twisted Nevermind. Many years later (but only one year on Earth), a now-grown Mikey returns home... but not as the victor he told his family. As tool of the Nevermind, he hunts down five escaped mages with the help of his (formerly older) brother Brennan, who remains unaware of the corrupting force poisoning Mikey from within. Meanwhile, Wendy finally believes that the barbarian "madman" found by the FBI was indeed the child she thought her husband had killed - and, with the help of Mikey's Terranos-born friend and lover, sets out to find her fugitive son.

REVIEW: The story of fallen hero Mikey, his faithful brother-turned-sidekick Brennan, and the shattered Rhodes family continues to be filled with action, magic, twists, and some truly emotional moments. Brennan begins to see what his brother has become, yet cannot bring himself to lose faith in the Mikey he knew. Back with the parents, a new team of agents with an unknown agenda step in to take over the case, just as Wendy and Agent Brooks begin to believe in Mikey's wild tales... helped by the arrival of the winged "gideon" woman Rya, Mikey's former friend from Terranos and mother of his unborn child. I had been afraid that this would be a "boys only" tale, with women relegated to back-burner roles, but Wendy isn't going to be left at home to pine and grieve, and neither is Rya. This volume delivers another interesting and engaging tale, violent at times but toward a purpose, not simply for the sake of it; indeed, Mikey's fall from grace can be tracked to when he finally learned to kill in pursuit of fulfilling the prophecy everyone told him he was destined to fulfill. I look forward to discovering where this story is going.

You might also enjoy:
The Everworld series (K. A. Applegate, YA Fiction - Four Chicago teens are pulled into a world where magic and elder gods reign)
A Princess of Mars (Edgar Rice Burroughs, Fiction - A Civil War veteran finds himself transported to the dying, hostile planet Mars)
Gregor the Overlander (Suzanne Collins, YA Fiction - A modern boy and his toddler sister fall into a dark, strange world beneath New York City)
King: The Graphic Novel (Joshua Hale Fialkov, Fiction - The illustrated adventure of the last man alive in a darkly humorous post-apocalyptic, monster-filled Los Angeles)
The Tower (J. S. Frankel, YA Fiction - A dying boy stumbles into an alternate Earth, where comic book heroes are real)
Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman, Fiction - Helping a wounded homeless girl pulls an ordinary man into the bizarre, invisible realm of LondonBelow)
Fairy Quest: Outcasts (Paul Jenkins, YA Comic - In the fairy-tale realm of Fablewood, forbidden friends Red and Woof must escape the totalitarian rule of Mister Grimm)
The Divide (Elizabeth Kay, YA Fiction - A sickly boy accidentally falls into a world where magic is real and humans are myths)
The Dark World (Henry Kuttner, Fiction - A World War II vet finds himself in a parallel world of magic, fighting memories of an alternate, evil self)
Every Heart a Doorway (Seanan McGuire, YA? Fiction - A teen attends a special boarding school to deal with the psycholgical aftermath of having been to a magical world)
Un Lun Dun (China Miéville, YA Fiction - Two English schoolgirls find their way to the bizarre "abcity" mirror of London, where a prophecy goes wrong)
The Rhyme of the Willow series (Justin Sullivan and Samuel Sullivan, YA Fiction - Following a vivid dream, twins find themselves pulled into a dark world where plants run amok)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Catherynne M. Valente, YA Fiction - An Omaha girl travels to Fairyland for an Adventure, and finds herself fighting an evil Marquess)
The 100 Cupboards trilogy (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers magical cupboard doors leading to other worlds)
The War of the Flowers (Tad Williams, Fiction - A man enters the fairy world, where magic parallels technology and a war with humanity is on the horizon)

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Birthright Volume 3: Allies and Enemies
(The Birthright series)
Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan, creators
Skybound
Fiction, YA Fantasy/Graphic Novel
****

DESCRIPTION: Mikey Rhodes continues his quest to hunt down the four remaining fugitive mages, who fled Terranos for Earth and have lived in exile ever since. His brother Brennan now knows of the Nevermind infecting him, but follows anyway - Mikey's his brother, after all, and he can't turn his back on family. Besides, as he's quickly learning, the truth isn't as black and white as many believe; there may well be good reason the mages deserve death. But their current target, a shadowy assassin hiding in Chicago, may best even the hero of Terranos.
Wendy Rhodes, now in the company of the winged girl (and Mikey's friend and lover) Rya, sets out to find her sons - and finds herself up to her neck in magic and forces she can scarcely comprehend. Can Mikey still be saved, or is it too late for him and the world of Terranos... and if Terranos falls, what will Earth's fate be?
Meanwhile, the imprisoned Aaron Rhodes continues to defy the authorities to protect his children - but Agent Kylen promises leniency if he talks Mikey into peaceful surrender. Little does he realize the man's hidden agenda...

REVIEW: This third volume continues the action-filled, often dark tale of Mikey, the lost boy who became a broken hero. Brennan now has his own magical secret, and his awareness of the Nevermind only makes him more determined to stick by and help his formerly-younger brother. Meanwhile, the boys' parents become caught up in their own Terranos-tainted entanglements; this isn't a story that leaves the "grown ups" by the wayside like so many fantasy adventures. More twists arise, and more of Mikey's backstory of his time in Terranos comes to light via flashbacks. A revelation at the very end almost made me waver on the ending, but I'm willing to trust the creators to see where things are going. Hopefully, Volume 4 appears on Hoopla soon...

You might also enjoy:
The Everworld series (K. A. Applegate, YA Fiction - Four Chicago teens are pulled into a world where magic and elder gods reign)
A Princess of Mars (Edgar Rice Burroughs, Fiction - A Civil War veteran finds himself transported to the dying, hostile planet Mars)
Gregor the Overlander (Suzanne Collins, YA Fiction - A modern boy and his toddler sister fall into a dark, strange world beneath New York City)
King: The Graphic Novel (Joshua Hale Fialkov, Fiction - The illustrated adventure of the last man alive in a darkly humorous post-apocalyptic, monster-filled Los Angeles)
The Tower (J. S. Frankel, YA Fiction - A dying boy stumbles into an alternate Earth, where comic book heroes are real)
Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman, Fiction - Helping a wounded homeless girl pulls an ordinary man into the bizarre, invisible realm of LondonBelow)
Fairy Quest: Outcasts (Paul Jenkins, YA Comic - In the fairy-tale realm of Fablewood, forbidden friends Red and Woof must escape the totalitarian rule of Mister Grimm)
The Divide (Elizabeth Kay, YA Fiction - A sickly boy accidentally falls into a world where magic is real and humans are myths)
The Dark World (Henry Kuttner, Fiction - A World War II vet finds himself in a parallel world of magic, fighting memories of an alternate, evil self)
Every Heart a Doorway (Seanan McGuire, YA? Fiction - A teen attends a special boarding school to deal with the psycholgical aftermath of having been to a magical world)
Un Lun Dun (China Miéville, YA Fiction - Two English schoolgirls find their way to the bizarre "abcity" mirror of London, where a prophecy goes wrong)
The Rhyme of the Willow series (Justin Sullivan and Samuel Sullivan, YA Fiction - Following a vivid dream, twins find themselves pulled into a dark world where plants run amok)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Catherynne M. Valente, YA Fiction - An Omaha girl travels to Fairyland for an Adventure, and finds herself fighting an evil Marquess)
The 100 Cupboards trilogy (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers magical cupboard doors leading to other worlds)
The War of the Flowers (Tad Williams, Fiction - A man enters the fairy world, where magic parallels technology and a war with humanity is on the horizon)

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