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Book Review: Sojourn Volume 5 – The Sorcerer’s Tale by Ian Edgington (author) and Greg Land (penciler)

* Genre: Graphic Novels, High Fantasy
* ISBN: 1933160446
* ISBN-13: 9781933160443
* Format: Paperback, 172pp
* Publisher: Checker Book Publishing Group, LLC
* Pub. Date: July 2007

Once upon a few years ago, I picked up a graphic novel called Sojourn at my local B&N. Although generally not a graphic novel reader, I needed to try something different, and Sojourn purported to be a high fantasy comic, something that was rare in an age of rising popularity for the superhero, steampunk, and manga style comics. Four graphic novels of the web based comic by writer Ian Edgington and penciler Greg Land were published. And it was good.

Then the publisher, CrossGen, ran into financial difficulties and closed up shop. My four collections of Sojourn issues sat forlorn on the shelf, and me, a completist, stared in frustration at the incomplete story. I even considered selling the books to a used bookstore. Then I find out that Checker BPG, a little graphic novel publisher that finds out of print, out of the way comics for republication, had bought the rights to the CrossGen collection and was planning on finishing the Sojourn story. And it was good.

Sojourn tells the story of blond-haired Arwyn the archer, a woman of great combat skill (and quite a looker too) whose family is killed when an ancient evil from the past, Mordath, returns to wreak vengeance on the Five Lands. The only thing that can stop him is the very arrow that killed him years ago, but that arrow has been split into five pieces, scattered throughout the five lands. In order for Arwyn to get her own vengeance on Mordath, she must recover the five arrow pieces and recombine them. Other characters, such as the humorous adventurer Gareth and the sassy thief Cassidy, round out the narrative and provide the story�s humor.

Sojourn is a high, epic fantasy that is first rate. Although the overall plot is uncomplicated, there a twists and turns that make the story appealing, as well as some unique characteristics. For instance, the main character is an archer. Archers have not been the heroes of any stories I have read since reading Robin Hood as a child. Most heroes use either sword, magic or stealth in the majority of high fantasies. The evil race of trolls who serve Mordath are a long-lived race. This is an attribute not often assigned to evil races in high fantasy, who tend to live short, brutish lives. You also won�t find any elves or dwarves though you will find winged humans and shape-shifting dragons.

Sojourn Volume 5: The Sorcerer�s Tale, collects issues 25-30 of the Sojourn story. These were the final issues but four to be posted online by CrossGen. However, Checker BPG, in its own completist way, is currently working on Sojourn Volume 6: The Beserkers Tale with a new author (Chuck Dixon) to eventually finish the story.

Any reader can start with volume 5 of Sojourn, as the book gives a synopsis of the story so far. Since it is not a complex plot, a new reader can easily join the story.

sojourn4_05lg.jpgThe artwork is superb. Greg Land is one of the best pencilists in the world of graphic novels (although there is some controversy about that), and his characters are exquisitely detailed and placed in beautiful settings that the colorists have filled vibrantly. The artwork only loses that vibrancy in issue 30, when Land takes a vacation and a guest penciler takes on the art. Issue thirty lacks the photo realism of the first 29 issues and creates more rounded art lacking in the vibrant detail of Land�s original work. This is unfortunate, as reading Arwyn�s story was much like watching a movie, because the artwork was just so detailed. The newer rounded and less detailed characters of issue thirty, as well as the bland settings, detract from the story. Since this is the wrap up to this collection, it was poor way to end this volume.

I highly recommend this graphic novel. The artwork is great, and the story is interesting as well as being a rarity of genre in the graphic novel publishing world. If you are a high fantasy fan, you will enjoy this story and artwork as it will fulfill all your expectations of what a high fantasy should look like. If you can find the original publications, you will appreciate it even more, though it is not essential to enjoying this volume and the ones to come. Sojourn is my favorite graphic novel series, and I am very glad to see it back in publication. Sojourn is back, and it is good.