I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Yvain: The Knight of the Lion by M.T. Anderson & Andrea Offermann
Release date: March 14th, 2017
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: Graphic novel, fantasy
Eager for glory and heedless of others, Sir Yvain sets out from King Arthur’s court and defeats a local lord in battle, unknowingly intertwining his future with the lives of two compelling women: Lady Laudine, the beautiful widow of the fallen lord, and her sly maid Lunette. In a stunning visual interpretation of a 12th century epic poem by Chrétien de Troyes, readers are — at first glance — transported into a classic Arthurian romance complete with errant knights, plundering giants, and fire-breathing dragons. A closer look, however, reveals a world rich with unspoken emotion. Striking, evocative art by Andrea Offermann sheds light upon the inner lives of medieval women and the consequences Yvain’s oblivious actions have upon Laudine and Lunette.
I really like graphic novels. There’s something about the blend of words and illustrations that when done right really hit home the emotion, the pain…whatever emotion or trial the character is going through. I also really enjoy Arthurian legends so I jumped at the chance to read Yvain: The Knight of the Lion, M.T. Anderson’s first graphic novel. While I’ve liked his other books, this one actually disappointed me for many reasons.
- The panels of the graphic novel were set up like a Medieval tapestry which I thought was pretty cool because it fit the whole theme of the book. However, the drawings were flat and lifeless. They could have been a lot more dynamic than just a man sitting and staring at his drink or a side profile of a man riding his horse. The brown/yellowish colours also didn’t do the illustrations any favours.
- There were tons of typos in my version. This will more than likely be fixed before the final version is released but it was hard to ignore them while reading.
- For me, a good graphic novel pulls you in. Even with a lack of space or words, I learn to care deeply about the characters and their journey. Here I didn’t feel anything, well I did, but that feeling can best be described as boredom. Sir Yvain could have been eaten by his own lion I wouldn’t have even blinked an eye. Character connection is extremely important to me and I was saddened not to have it here.
- A part of what hurt my connection with the characters was how fast the plot progressed. It’s a graphic novel, so yes I know that’s normal, but it was two pages in and Sir Yvain had already met his one true love. Really?! No build up whatsoever.
- I also took issue with how women were portrayed. None were really anything more than tools to move the story along. All of the women were either bossy or needy. Sir Yvain was always saving women, dealing with women who were written as irrational or having to move around their evil plots. All the bad things that happened to him were because of women.
So, overall this book didn’t really add anything new to the hundreds of other interpretations of Arthurian legends. And coming from an author such as M.T. Anderson I was expecting a lot more. I did enjoy reading the author’s notes at the end. They explained the original source material and the author’s motivation for writing the novel. But other than that, this wasn’t for me. If you have read it though I would love to hear your thoughts. Also, I’d love any recommendations for graphic novels based on Arthurian legends. 🙂