on 23 January 2011
I have two grandsons who would much rather be playing on the Wii than reading a book. When their father was a similar age I discovered graphic novels. While I understand the lobby of purists who would rather have their kids reading Quo Vadis at age 12, I also believe that some kids just aren't built that way. As their father is now a voracious reader I thought it might be an idea to gently steer my grandkids towards reading in the same way I encouraged their dad. It seems to have worked pretty well so far and at Christmas the little one could be found on the top step of my stairway reading this graphic novel. It might not be Shakespeare, but it's certainly a start.
Emily and Navin's mother has been healed, and the good guys are safe for the moment. But of course, that won't last long in "The Cloud Searchers," the third volume of Kazu Kibuishi's epic graphic novel series -- this time it's a Hayao Miyazaki-esque flight to the clouds, in search of a floating city lost for years.
Emily and her friends have to get to Cielis, a city said to be destroyed by the elf army. However, it may actually have been hidden in the sky. Unfortunately, the moment they hire an airship captain to take him to this legendary lost city, elf soldiers try to arrest them -- as well as Prince Trellis and a timid, amnesia-stricken Luger, who are now wanted for treason.
As the motley crew sets off for a city that may or may not exist, they end up encountering plenty of perils in the sky -- especially since the Elf King has sent a brutal bounty hunter after them. And as Emily works to master her powers with the Stone, Trellis reveals a horrifying fact about the Elf King that may change everything.
"The Cloud Searchers" isn't quite the gripping, suspenseful story that The Stonekeeper's Curse was, mainly because most of it is spent on the airship cooking and practicing Stone magic. But don't worry, Kibuishi manages to insert plenty of exciting action (WYVERN ATTACK!) interspersed with solid character interactions.
There's also a lot of development for Trellis, who reminds me a lot of Avatar The Last Airbender's Prince Zuko -- we see more of his grumpy kindness here, as well as the true reason he's rebelling against the Elf King. Luger is also... well, very different from the coldhearted, ambitious warrior of the past, and we see more of Emily's motivations and why she's still in Alledia.
Kibuishi's art also continues to be awesome -- a sort of Americanized manga style, littered with robot bunnies and anthropomorphic animal-people. A lot of time is spent on the airships and floating citadels, which are washed in warm oranges, soft purple skies and cool blue-greys. But the villainous elf characters are usually given darker, grimier-looking backdrops.
"The Cloud Seekers" is a great "bridge" between epic story arcs, full of airborne action, lovely art and some dark new twists. We're waiting for book four, Mr. Kibuishi!