Sunday, January 08, 2012

Amulet 4: The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi

The fourth book in Kazu Kibuishi's "Amulet" graphic novel series for younger readers, The Last Council, shows Kibuishi still in adding-complications mode; anyone who had hopes that this series would start moving towards its conclusion will be disappointed by this book, which sets up what just might be the other major villain of the series. After the evil, world-conquering elf king, who is entirely offstage in these pages -- Kibuishi's world, like that of many epic fantasists before him, has expanded to such a degree that he can't manage to shoehorn all of his subplots into a single volume.

(I reviewed the previous volume, The Cloud Searchers, just less than a year ago, but, oddly, I don't seem to have written anything here about the first two books.)

This is very much the middle book of an epic fantasy series, which means any serious plot summary would be either a spoiler or superfluous to readers of the series and close to incomprehensible to those who haven't read the previous books. The focus, as usual, is on Emily, a teenage girl from our world who came through a portal to a fantasy world after getting a mysterious and powerful magical talisman, called an amulet, which talks to her telepathically and has its own agenda. Emily came through with her younger brother, Navin, and her mother Karen (who was in a magical coma for the first two books, and acted as the voice of overwhelming caution since then), and has since picked up a group of friends, allies, and companions: the rabbit-shaped robot Miskit, the fox adventurer Leon, grumpy robot Cogsley, airship captain Enzo, and Trellis, the more-or-less good son of the evil elf king.

Those folks are separated for most of this book, getting into their own adventures -- and, in the case of Miskit and Cogsley, discovering Vigo, another stonekeeper -- people who have an amulet, like Emily and Trellis, and, more importantly, anyone with any serious power whatsoever in this world -- who will be a major mentor/helper figure going forward, if I'm any judge.

The major plotline focuses on Emily, of course -- she was led to the flying city of Cielis by the young stonekeeper Max, and they all had thought of Cielis as their one hope of refuge, the strong center of resistance to the forces of the elf king. But, after a disastrous training ritual for young stonekeepers, and certain actions by Max, Emily and her friends find themselves is clearly an even worse position at the end of Last Council, facing ever-longer odds with fewer and fewer potential allies.

The series is still fun and exciting, but it's really settling in to be the graphic-novel equivalent of a middle-rank epic-fantasy series; if does what it needs to do, and is quite thrilling along the way, but it's easy to forget during the time between volumes, and it's not, so far, doing much all that interesting or special with its generic ingredients.

Update: See also my reviews for the first book, The Stonekeeper (in the middle of a longer round-up post), and for the second, The Stonekeeper's Curse.

1 comment:

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Hmmm. I'm looking for something good to read. I may look into this to fill in some after the void "The Walking Dead" left when I got all caught up on the graphic novels.

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