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Geis: A Matter of Life and Death Hardcover – July 26, 2016
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SELECTED AS ONE OF SLATE'S 10 FAVORITE COMICS OF 2016
This first volume of what promises to be a rousing adventure is gorgeously drawn and full of characters to root forand against.
Slate, Slate's 10 Favorite Comics of 2016
Geis is a genuine surprise, an engrossing fantasy tale that manages the neat trick of seeming both familiar and fresh. [ ] Geis is an extraordinarily thoughtful book that confirms Deacon’s arrival in comics from the world of children’s literature. Even if the presentation still has one foot in that genre, there is enough genuine dread within to keep grown-up readers turning the pages.
The AV Club
This first volume in an anticipated trilogy is a lightning paced, tragic, and gripping start; readers will eagerly await the next outing.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred Review
Alexis Deacon’s Geis is probably my standout book of the year at the moment.
Readers will give themselves over to the dreamlike, immersive narrative [...]
Deacon’s artwork is beautiful, elegant. I already mentioned I’m a fan, right? But to see him do such finely-detailed work in a graphic novel is remarkable. The palette is dominated by primarily soft, pastel hues, and his lines are both precise and fluid. He paces the book well and sets a mood both mysterious and sinister but always riveting and quite entertaining. I was bummed to see the story end. (For now.)
With stunning artwork and strong control over the delivery of the story, Alexis Deacon has turned in a spectacular opening chapter. It’s sharp and assured and engrossing, and you’ll go crazy waiting for the next installment.
The action is non-stop [...] it is utterly fascinating.
Youth Services Book Reviews
Children’s book illustrator Deacon (Croc and Bird) starts an epic fantasy with his first graphic novel. In an unnamed fantasy world, the Great Chief Matarka has died leaving no heir. The Chief Judge, the High Priest, the Lord Chamberlain, the Grand Wizard, and the young daughter of the Kite Lord are among those summoned to a trial to determine who will rule in her place. But an evil sorceress has taken control of the contest and tricks them all into agreeing to a cursed geis, or taboo, sending them on scattered quests across the land. Tangled forests, deserts, bat-filled caverns, rivers, and medieval towns are rendered in loose brushwork with clumps of gorgeous detail, a meeting of Maurice Sendak and Pieter Bruegel. The early scenes are colored in a palette of soft ochers, pale blues, and peaches. The pages darken to include greens, moody violets, and charcoal blacks as the contest gains deadly urgency, with this first volume ending in a startling cliff-hanger.
The graphics are well done, the story is interesting, and there will be more of this story. Any who survived the first test now has another test coming up...
A suspenseful, exciting story with a little bit of a dark streak.
Stephanie's Book Reviews
From the Back Cover
The chief matriarch is dying. Drawing her last breath, she declares a contest: let fate decide the one worthy to rule. Fifty souls are summoned in the night, fifty souls bound to the same fate. But this is no ordinary trial...And so begins the first task.
This supernatural historical fantasy is the first in an epic trilogy from the award-winning Alexis Deacon.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
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The story itself reminded me of reading Sandman with its cast of characters both mysterious and mundane, leaving me wondering why they are there and what they will do -- only some of which is explained, of course. I also found similarity in the threads of darkness throughout, and I felt they were never gratuitous but rather an important part of the mosaic. For the very reasonable price (I paid about 13 dollars US) I received a beautiful hardcover and a feast for you imagination, lasting me about an hour plus time spent brooding the story and pining for the sequel.
The story is interesting and errie, about a high stakes game of power no one intentionally entered, that becomes more and more gripping with the second volume. It's a fantastical story with magic and a large cast of characters range from comedic, heroic, dark and complicated. The way magic works in this world is particularly fun and gruesome. I'm personally very attached to comics with good art, and I absolutely adore Deacon's style, with an ink and painterly quality. Very well illustrated, with great designs and use of color.
Please do yourself a favor and read this great book!
But a geis is always broken.
As soon as it is spoken or written, your fate is set.
After providing this handy definition at the beginning of this book, the story begins with the summoning of fifty people to the deathbed of the great chief Matakra. She has no heir and her will stipulates that there will be a contest to determine the next great chief. Some rich and powerful people from the land have signed up, but some others are also brought, seemingly against their will. They debate about choosing among themselves when the spirit of Niope, a sorceress, rises from the body of Matakra and starts the first test in the contest. All fifty are magically thrown from the room to distant corners of the land and must return to the castle before the light of dawn touches the castle's front doors.
The people face various traps and challenges (some don't know the kingdom well enough to find their way back) as they try to return. A few decide it's not worth the bother. One, a witch, recognizes that Niope uses death magic and fears what will happen. A young girl is also among the candidates. She's the daughter of the Kite Lord and is able to fly back to the castle quickly. She and Nemas, a courtier, find out from Niope that only one contestant will survive and be ruler. All the others will die. They are forbidden from telling the others because this is a geis. A bit of mayhem ensues.
The book has a very intriguing set up and the first test is resolved by the end, but this is far from the story's end. I was hoping for more story. A lot of characters are introduced but not all developed. It's going to be hard to remember the storyline by the time the next volume comes out, but it is a quick read so it would be easy to reread. The art is a bit simple with a muted color palate, which actually helps the story move quickly and gives it a feeling of ancientness and otherness. I am interested in more and hope the next volume comes out soon!
The Great Chief has died and has left behind a contest that will determine who will be her successor. So far, so good. Fifty souls will compete and the winner will become Chief. That sounds like this will mostly be adventure-action. But, no. Or more to the point - not only. There's lots more than that going on, and lots more at stake.
MILD SPOILERS. Our heroine is a young teen girl. She is of no particular account, since most of the fifty competitors are personages of some importance. The competition starts with all fifty being flung out across the Kingdom and tasked with returning by dawn. O.K. But the competition is being overseen by a tricky sorceress, and that's where things get complicated. No more hints or spoilers. We follow several contestants and the tale is sort of like Chaucer meets fantasy quest. We have connivers, nobles, heroes, cowards, merchants, lazy lumps, and so on. They look out for themselves and hobble and impede each other. Our heroine runs across most of them, and holds her own. It's all very ripping with sorcerous undercurrents.
This all works in part because of the interesting choices made in terms of illustration. At first I thought Maxfield Parrish, but that isn't quite right. It isn't that busy or Deco. Think more in terms of newspaper comics from the 30's and 40's. Say, "Little Nemo". The drawing is pencil and ink, (I think), and the coloring is in faded pastel washes. The story is set in a vaguely Medieval time and place, and this mild, faded, old-ish style works very well. That said, the drawing is crisp, the characters are quite expressive, and there is fine attention to detail so that the action, even when wild and stylized, is always clear and comprehensible.
This is understated and elegant stuff. The combination of art and storytelling works, the pacing is good, and there is a certain "classic" feel that underlies the tale. To my mind this is a nice and interesting find worth continuing to follow. (Please note that I received a free advance will-self-destruct-in-x-days Adobe Digital copy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)