- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Posted October 26, 2004
'Artesia' is a phenomenal fantasy epic about a clash between two powerful nations set on a world simply called The Known World where magic and a pantheon of gods are involved in human affairs. The formidable heroine, Artesia, is a war captain, witch and concubine to a Highlands King whose Celt-like, matriarchal society, Daradja, worships an ancient female divinity, her sisters and her children. The neighboring patriarchal Middle Kingdoms, where worship of a Christ-like deity known as The Divine King prevails, have been invaded by a common enemy, the vast Empire of Thessid-Gola and their darkly sorcerous allies, the Isliklids. The Empire, while culturally Near Eastern-like, also worships the Divine King -- though with key dogmatic differences -- and long ago ruled almost the whole of The Known World under a great conqueror akin to Alexander the Great. The current Sultan is attempting to restore his land to its former glory with the dangerous and demonic aid of the Isliklids while his 446-year-old Emperor mysteriously lies in a mystic stasis called The Gray Dream. An accomplished enchantress, fearsome warrior and vigorous lover, Artesia finds herself at the center of paradigm-shifting, world-changing events as her company and the war spirits she commands are first pitted against their treacherous King and then summoned to the defense of their wary neighbor in a tenuous truce. Though she doesn't realize it, Artesia will be the key figure in a cosmic drama that will end one Age of her world and usher in a new one. Independent self-publisher and creator Mark Smylie has fashioned an immense story he intends to tell in 22 volumes of which the first 3 Trade Paperbacks have been published. The intricate back-story framing the events of the series is Tolkienian in scope and detail as Smylie has produced numerous maps, chronologies and essays to supplement the main adventure. The look is a very distinctive blend of Greco-Roman, Egyptian and Celtic mythos, 16th-century arms, armor and warfare, medieval social structures and issues, ethereal spirit imagery, and bone-crunching, dust-swirling, blood-spurting, tightly-packed battle scenes worthy of cinematic giants like Akira Kurosawa, Cecil B. DeMille or David Lean all illustrated using watercolors. The content is decidedly ADULT with graphic nudity and violence. I especially like how he uses real-world cultures as templates for his fictitious societies: Daradja is like Scotland and Ireland, the Middle Kingdoms like the Holy Roman Empire and the Empire of Thessid-Gola is like the Ottoman Empire with Gola being like Old Kingdom Egypt. Other powers in this dense and varied world watching and waiting on the periphery of this conflict include the mighty Palatian city-state and its protectorates (The Spanish Empire), the Hemapoline League of merchant princes (a combination of the Delian and Hanseatic Leagues, the Venetian Empire and the Dutch Republic), the Oracle Queens of the Isle of Khael (Delphi), the Horse-Lords of the Kessite Khanates (the Mongol Khanates), the desert-dwelling Sabutans (the African Empire of Mali), the tropical Samarappans (India), the Northern Wood-Kings of Panaghia (Scandanavia), distant Califa beyond the borders of The Known World (the exotic Orient set instead in the West) and even the lost proto-civilization Urune Dure swallowed by the sea (Atlantis). And this is only scratching the surface! I have never seen anything like this and was blown away! If you like J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Frank Herbert's 'Dune', 'Xena', 'Braveheart', ancient mythology, 'The Mahabharata' or the revisionist 'King Arthur' by Antoine Fuqua, then you MUST check this out.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 21, 2002
It truly baffles me that so many people have hailed Artesia as the next best thing since sliced bread. I was duped by such hype, and plunked down roughly 20 bucks for the TPB, only to be maddeningly disappointed. Now granted the art is very beautiful, and Mark Smylie is a master of the human form- even if only from the head down- and his water colors are wonderful, as well as his renditons of crowds and battles. However, the art should not have been the only aspect of the book that appeals to the reader. The plot is uninteresting, predictable, and downright boring in some instances. One can hardly identify with Artesia, and her character inspires little if any emotion. Even though, Mark Smylie tries hard to make her seem like an underdog, she comes across as your typical hero with absolutely no character development. She is not memorable, the reader can't even have a cathartic admiration for her, and she is horribly bland. The worst thing, is that the entire 196 pages doesn't make the one feel any emotion. There is no sadness or shock at the death of the concubines half of whom you don't even know the names of as you are given so brief a glimpse of them, King Branimir and the Agallities hardly seem like they are threat to ANYTHING, there are no moments of revelation when given a glimpse into Artesia's past, or the sense of watching something both glorius and foreboding unfold towards the end of the book. And as such Artesia isn't worth the paper it is printed on, the only purpose it can serve is as an art reference. It What is also maddening is that the book, gives the implication that if God had been a Goddess it would ensure eqaulity for women everywhere both in stature and sexuality. As an Asian female, I have to scratch my head at this foolish notion, for the East has never lacked in powerful Goddesses for both war and the home and everything in between, and yet women there have not fared any better than their Western counterparts, and perhaps have suffered even more. Such an implication Mark Smylie makes in Artesia and his interviews, and it serves to discredit the believability of his historically inspired society, and is a glaring fallacy in his insight of human nature and societyWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.