Artesia, Volume 1: The First Book of Dooms

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In the Highlands of the Middle Kingdoms, where witches and warlords vie for power, a warrior-priestess named Artesia fights for her King against the rules of rival citadels. The Highlands of Daradja are dotted with ancient citadels and castles, held by petty kings and clans that war against each other and the brigand bands that plague the bleak mountains and valleys. Artesia, once a concubine to King Branimir of the Citadel of Dara Dess, has in time risen to become one of his chief war captains; a priestess to ...

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In the Highlands of the Middle Kingdoms, where witches and warlords vie for power, a warrior-priestess named Artesia fights for her King against the rules of rival citadels. The Highlands of Daradja are dotted with ancient citadels and castles, held by petty kings and clans that war against each other and the brigand bands that plague the bleak mountains and valleys. Artesia, once a concubine to King Branimir of the Citadel of Dara Dess, has in time risen to become one of his chief war captains; a priestess to dread goddesses; and a magician like her mother once was, controlling warlike spirits. She and her captains carry the cause of their King against his enemies in the field, but afraid of her growing power, her King betrays her and takes new allies: knights from the neighboring Middle Kingdoms, who follow a foreign god, the Divine King, and persecute witches. And in the middle of betrayal and tragedy comes word that the Middle Kingdoms have been invaded by an ancient enemy to them all, the Empire of Thessid-Gola…

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This pretentious but impressive book is intended as the first in a proposed 22-volume epic fantasy, The Book of Dooms. Its eponymous heroine is the daughter of a witch, but she prefers to live as a warrior in a vaguely medieval secondary world. She has been the mistress of a minor highland king but begins this episode as the captain leading his forces against his enemies; then, after the king betrays her, she leads an army to seize the throne for herself. The story is thick with pitched battles and their aftermath as supernatural powers and creatures prowl the battlefield to gather up the dead men's souls. Gods and spirits are never far from human affairs here, and Artesia must negotiate with them as with her human allies. This is grim stuff. The story's frequent use of gore and nakedness isn't gratuitous but works to suggest a world in which humans are fragile, insignificant creatures, despite their yearnings to be more powerful. Gods and goddesses are more powerful but equally determined to subdue their rivals. There's little variation in the somber, portentous tone throughout the book. The characters also may have slightly-varied faces, but they all wear the same steely, determined expression. Self-taught artist Smylie is better at building crowd scenes than suggesting individual personality, and the many massive groupings of soldiers reinforce the book's ominous mood as armies and the powers behind them maneuver. As sole creator, Smylie is both using and reinventing comics conventions, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. For example, Artesia's armor looks more functional than the Victoria's Secret versions worn by most female warriors in comics, but it's still probably not a good idea to race into combat with bare thighs flashing. However, despite the book's awkwardness and occasional glitches, the author's serious concern with his heroine and what she represents is evident. Sometimes he seems on the verge of actually creating a whole new universe. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A fantasy filled with military, political, and religious intrigue, the first of a projected 22 volumes in a series titled "The Book of Dooms," this work was previously issued by Sirius in 1999. Charismatic heroine Artesia was raised as a witch but has chosen instead to embrace the sword and become a captain and concubine to King Branimir of Dara-Dess. When Branimir betrays both her and her gods, she is forced into battle against him. But this battle is still raging when word comes of a far greater conflict to the south, and Artesia must decide whether to enter into it. Smylie has put a great deal of work into the creation of Artesia's world, and he includes several pages of detailed notes on its history and its many gods. Artesia is a vivid and compelling character: strong, bold, hard, and passionate. Most other characters, though, are not nearly as well fleshed out. Smylie's impressive art, with its lush painted colors, has a European feel, underscored by his very European matter-of-fact portrayal of bloody violence, sexual situations, and full frontal nudity. Fans of epic fantasy will be interested in the series; recommended for larger adult collections. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932386004
  • Publisher: Archaia
  • Publication date: 6/10/2003
  • Series: Artesia Series , #1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.75 (w) x 10.25 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Smylie

Mark Smylie has worked as a writer, illustrator, editor, and publisher in comics for over a decade. His epic military fantasy graphic novel series,Artesia, was first published by Sirius beginning in 1999. He was nominated for the Russ Manning Award for Best Newcomer that year, and for an Eisner Award for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition in 2001. Over the years his illustrations have appeared in game books from Wizards of the Coast, White Wolf, and most recently Kobold Press, and in collectible card games from AEG. He designed and illustrated a role-playing game based on Artesia that won the Origins Award for Role-Playing Game of 2006, three Indie RPG Awards, and was nominated for six ENnies. He founded Archaia in 2002 as a self-publishing home for his graphic novels, and still serves as the company’s Chief Creative Officer.

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Table of Contents

List of Plates 6
Chapter 1 Walking the Line 11
Chapter 2 Black Svn Rising 39
Chapter 3 Strangers in the Night 67
Chapter 4 The Bearer of Bad Tidings 95
Chapter 5 The Lion, the Witch and Her Wardrobe 123
Chapter 6 The Path Taken 151
A Guide to the Divine 185
The Dureans 186
A Myth of the Black Hunter 187
A Year of Thirteen Moons 187
Dragon Kings & Emperors 188
Tales of the Witch Queen 189
Citadel King & Highland Clan 189
Acknowledgements 190
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2005

    Artesia is astonishing

    '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 472-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, sexual situations 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 this book is a MUST-READ!!! Included in this Trade Paperback edition are 12 plates depicting various Known World deities and 5 pages of essays detailing various aspects of Artesia's world.

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