Elves Volume 1 by Jean-Luc Istin, Kyko Duarte

Elves has some incredibly beautiful illustration and color work that somewhat offset a drearily earnest collection of two stories (each focusing on a type of elf: Blue (water) and Sylvan (forest). The Lord of the Rings reference is pronounced: from the names, stories, characters, world building, races, etc., I couldn’t help but feel the author was attempting to add to the LoTR mythos. While not necessarily a bad thing, it was hard to separate the Peter Jackson movies from this graphic novel. There just wasn’t an originality here.

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Story 1: An elf huntress and nomadic hunter discover an elven city has been slaughtered. Evidence points to a rival human kingdom but both elf and human have their own suspicions. Together, they set out to discover the truth behind the murders. At the same time, an elf maiden has been scryed as the ‘chosen one’ – the one to find/wield the powerful magic crystal that will unite the races. But if she is the chosen one, why are the crystal’s guardians fighting so hard against her? Story 2: a human princess sets out to forge an alliance with the Sylvan elves to help fight the Orcs. But the elves don’t want anything to do with the humans and so it will come down to one lone elf to throw away centuries of xenophobia and reach out to the princess.

I’ll be honest here – the stories are shallow and lacking nuance. Character dialogues are flat and unimaginative (perhaps too literal a translation from French?) and hardly feel interesting. All the characters pretty much sound the same despite the difference in races, cultures, and social levels. The evil guys are eeevil and the good guys are just plain stupid. Plot twists aren’t very interesting and fairly well telegraphed in advance so as not to be all that interesting. The story is meant to be serious but the tepid pacing defeats any attempt at depth. By the end of both stories, one had to wonder why people were so clueless. It’s all simple linear plots.

The illustration work is quite lovely but again, you’ll feel like you are looking at sketches for the next Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movie. From circlets to flowy fabrics, we’ve seen these elves before. Add in a lot of braids and it really starts to go Peter Jackson fast. But the coloring is also quite beautiful, although I could wish for fewer blocked shadowing so we could get more definition.

Elves Volume 1 was not a bad read but it also was one where I never became invested in the story or the characters. More caricature than person, it all felt so painfully idealized and romanticized. As such, those looking for a Lord of The Rings type fantasy will likely enjoy Elves, even with the simplistic storytelling. But I honestly expect more sophistication in storytelling to match the lovely artwork. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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2 Responses to Elves Volume 1 by Jean-Luc Istin, Kyko Duarte

  1. Bookstooge says:

    This doesn’t have anything to do with Forgotten Realms, does it? Because it sounds like something that would fit exactly into that universe.

  2. Talvi says:

    Yeah – well, that works too. It all goes back to Tolkien in the end. 🙂

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