Age of Night by Amanda Kahl

I stumbled across Age of Night purely by coincidence. I was running in and out of my local independent bookstore The Briar Patch to pick up a book I’d ordered for my son and Amanda Kahl, AoN’s author was there with a table, in costume, offering to sign copies. She had just published the third compilation of her webcomic and in pure independent author solidarity I asked the cashier to ring up one copy of each, and because I was in a hurry I’d pick them up the next time I came through.

Me being me, I then promptly forgot about them. The next time I was at the store the owner mentioned that I had some books waiting for me, which was delightful. It was like Christmas coming early (or, I guess, late). I took them home and got right to work reading them.

Drake and Thelonius are best buds, each running away from their own unpleasant past. Drake is the current incarnation of a demigod traditionally used by (and chained to) the high priestess, and in his past lives was often little more than a blunt-force weapon. Thelonius is a trained assassin who fled the forced retirement that would have come from the marriage his family had arranged for him. The pair stumble into Rhonwen, a newly minted healing mage off to her first job and Kamaria, a thief living outside the good graces of the guild. The series is subtitled: “Search For Freedom: Find Your Place,” which perfectly describes what all the characters is trying to do, each in their own way.

Not wanting to spoil any of the story’s fun, I will leave the details out, but the foursome embark on a continent-spanning quest fraught with danger. A second set of relatively minor characters engage in a parallel journey of their own, with the two groups occasionally interacting. By the end of the third volume, the two are completely at odds, and I’m somewhat irked that the current encounter is as yet unresolved.

These are graphic novels, so are a relatively quick read. Kahl is both a gifted writer and a gifted artist: the primary characters have deep, well envisioned backgrounds and motivations, and many of the panels can only be described as exquisite. As I finished each volume (which includes exclusive mini-stories along with concept art) I eagerly reached for the next. And for those who don’t want to wait for a compilation, Kahl has a Pateron available for as little as $1 a month. Age of Night has a presence on Facebook as well, where you can find (among other things) some pretty cool videos of her drawing and inking her strips.

Buy if: I’m actually gonna stop doing this. If I take the time to post one of these, assume that it’s worth buying if you find the concept interesting. I don’t have time to finish reading books I don’t like, and I definitely don’t have time to post about them.

Age: 11+