Monday, November 21, 2016

Beyond the Western Deep - Alex Kain and Rachel Bennett

Summary:  Vol 1: For over 100 years, the animal races of the Four Kingdoms have lived side-by-side in an uneasy truce. But when conflict ignites in the north, old alliances threaten to send the world into chaos.

Vol 2: As conflict looms between ancient enemies, the fragile truce that held civilization together has begun to unravel. A small peace envoy travels north to prevent war, while a ragtag army of rebels marches south to create it. Experience the latest chapter of this all-ages fantasy saga in its second collected volume! (Summary and images from amazon.com)

My Review: I've been following the Beyond the Western Deep webcomic for several years now, and have loved watching this vibrant and interesting world grow and develop.  It's a story filled with animals of seven differing races, which adds to the unique nature of their world--how they get along or, in some cases, don't get along.

If you know me, you know I love a good tale about anthropomorphic animals, and this one is no exception. It's a complex world built from the results of chaos and war, in which prejudices remain thick, and alliances are beginning to crumble.  There's humor and heartache and cleverness all wrapped up in an intriguing tale, with characters that are well rounded, have their foibles and strengths.  The rich history of the land of the Western Deep is thick with culture that makes this world feel genuine and true, which has me hooked for the coming chapters.

The artist is a university colleague and friend of mine, and I love her mastery of expressions that she gives the different animal characters--they have so much life and vibrancy, not to mention the character design in general.  Her command of environments and clothing is also to be admired, as well as the kinetic action of each panel, giving the whole story a very energetic and polished feel--it's truly a visual treat.


Fans of any well-woven story matched with fantastic art should definitely give Beyond the Western Deep a go.  It will also appeal to those who love the Redwall series.

These books comprise the first two chapters of the ongoing saga, and the comic can be read on the creators' website, beginning here.

My Rating: Four stars

For the sensitive reader: This story is a tale of budding war, and skirmishes happen along the way, including some blood, though nothing gory.

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