BooksOfTheMoon

Grandville Force Majeure (Grandville, #5)

By Bryan Talbot

Rating: 4 stars

The fifth, and final, instalment in DI LeBrock’s adventures is a bit of a corker. Framed for murder and on the run from his colleagues, he’s got to solve the murder, deal with the gangster Tiberius Koenig, who wants to bring London into his criminal empire, and save his family, all while being pursued by his own mentor, the Holmesian retired DCI Stamford Hawksmoor.

The story trots along at a good pace, and although the last quarter or so is wrapped in plastic, as an anti-spoiler mechanism, I figured out most of the big twists in advance (and on that, in my considered opinion, the idea of Roderick Ratzi selling out LeBrock is the most unbelievable thing in the whole series. And this is a series with steampunk Zeppelins, crazy red dinosaurs, and sexy anthropomorphic prostitute badgers) but it was still fun taking the journey. There are some great one-liners and mad mob-boss Koenig steals every scene he’s in.

The art is, once again, amazing. Talbot goes into the process a little in his piece at the end of the book, and part of the explanation as to why this is will be the last Grandville book is that each page would take 3-4 days to complete, which just isn’t long term commercially viable. The usual warning regarding the art applies though. Although it’s quite cartoony looking, and there are talking animals, this is a violent book, with adult themes that is very definitely not suitable for children.

At some point now, I think I need to go back and re-read the whole series in quick succession, to get a clearer feel for the characters and the overall plot, but this was a highly enjoyable conclusion to a highly enjoyable series.

Book details

ISBN: 9781910702246
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Year of publication: 2017

Grandville Noël (Grandville, #4)

By Bryan Talbot

Rating: 4 stars

The fourth instalment of DI Archie LeBrock’s adventures takes place around Christmas, and has his pal DS Ratzi off to see the in-laws, while his landlady asks him to find her missing niece. Shorn of his usual sidekick, LeBrock takes the case that, as all roads do, leads him to Grandville, and a charismatic cult leader, as well as an agent of the Pinkerton detective agency.

This book delves a bit into the mythology of the Grandville series, including the persecution of humans and their growing calls for equal rights and the history of Christianity, with a search for some “lost Gospels” also in the mix. Billie gets more to do this time round as well and throws a bombshell at the end that looks like it will affect events to come. Although Roderick Ratzi is mostly absent from this volume, LeBrock does find an alternative sidekick in the form of American Pinkerton detective Chance Lucas who is also after the leader of the cult that LeBrock is investigating. It’s the first time that we’ve had a lead character who is a doughface human but alas, he does mostly just take the Ratzi role and doesn’t get to do an awful lot in his own right.

The theme this time round is religion and cults, including how charismatic leaders can rise and lead people into saying and doing horrific things. Something which is all too relevant today. But amongst this grimness, Talbot throws in a reasonable amount of humour as well, both visual and textual. It makes for a very entertaining read.

The art is still gorgeous but previous warnings still apply: despite the cartoony style, this is adult, and often violent, stuff.

Book details

ISBN: 9780224098069
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Year of publication: 2014

Adventures of Luther Arkwright (Luther Arkwright, #1)

By Bryan Talbot

Rating: 4 stars

I’m really not entirely sure what to make of this graphic novel. It was very dense, in multiple senses of the word, and I did get lost more than once. Luther Arkwright can travel without technological aid between the worlds of the multiverse, and he’s working with the stable, ordered Earth of zero-zero to try and prevent a weapon that will destroy Earths throughout the multiverse from being found and unleashed.

The first thing that hit me here was Talbot’s art style. As someone who’s only really familiar with his work through Grandville and its sequels, this is very different indeed! Lots of line work and intricate detail, it’s lovely but in a way that requires more effort than the clean lines of Grandville.

The story itself is a twisting, turning tale encompassing parallel universes, variations of Earth where the British Empire never fell or where the English civil war waged for three hundred years. It’s on this latter plane that we spend most of our time, as Arkwright manipulates the nations of this world into a position where the enemy will be forced to reveal themselves, rather than to work through shadowy agents. And that’s another facet to the book: conspiracy theories to your heart’s content, along with secret societies and hidden manipulators of worlds. It’s all here.

Oh, and, of course, the religious symbolism is fairly intense, especially later on. The recurring motif of the figure dying with their arms outstretched (not to mention Arkwright’s little resurrection trick!) is a powerful image.

There’s a lot to digest here, and I suspect it’s a book that would reward rereading.

Book details

ISBN: 9781593077259
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Year of publication: 1989

Grandville Mon Amour (Grandville #2)

By Bryan Talbot

Rating: 4 stars

I read Grandville a few years ago and was immediately impressed by the vivid and quite stunning artwork, the sense of scale, the world-building of the alt-history, oh, and the random anthropomorphic animals. This sequel lives up to its predecessor in all those respects and more.

This time Detective Inspector Le Brock must chase down a dangerous fanatical criminal, who was once a hero of the British rebellion against their French masters. “Mad Dog” Mastock has escaped from the Tower just before his execution and Le Brock must pursue. The trail leads him, and his faithful sidekick Detective Sergeant Ratzi, back to Grandville: the great city of Paris, where high-class prostitutes are being murdered and a conspiracy that stretches back to the liberation of Britain.

The art continues to enthral me. Both the style and the vividness are a joy to behold. The anthropomorphised characters always keep you slightly off-balance, in a good way, and I quite like the fact that it’s never really commented on, except in an occasional good-natured insult (“Catch, Beaky” to a vulture, for example). The world itself is deepened as we see more of the history between Britain and France and the war of independence.

The book isn’t long, I finished it in just under an hour, but it is definitely worth savouring. I’ll definitely be rereading the series and I look forward to picking up the next volume in the series as well.

Book details

ISBN: 9780224090001
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Year of publication: 2006

Grandville (Grandville #1)

By Bryan Talbot

Rating: 5 stars

Detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard is investigating the death of a diplomat, a mystery that takes him to Paris, known as Grandville, the greatest city in the world, and what he finds could shake the French empire to the core.

I loved this steampunk alt-history with anthropomorphic animals. The basic back-story is that Britain lost the Napoleonic wars and became part of the French empire for 200 years. But about 20 years ago, following a campaign of guerilla warfare and civil disobedience, Britain gained its independence, but relations haven’t been great since then.

LeBrock remains mostly a mystery throughout, albeit a fun one (for example, the bellboy lugging his bag up the stairs to his room looks on in horror as the DI casually opens it to lift out several dumbbells). His sidekick, the dapper rat Detective Roderick Ratzi is also great fun, and I’d love to find out more about these two characters.

The art is stunning, with strong lines and colours throughout. There’s a stunning fight sequence that goes on for several pages at one point without a single word. It’s a joy to behold. Don’t let the art style deceive you though, the book can be awfully violent at times, but it never feels gratuitous or forced, but just a byproduct of the world that LeBrock inhabits.

So an excellent story, and I look forward to future adventures of DI LeBrock, not to mention the fallout from the events of this one, with great pleasure.

Book details

ISBN: 9780224084888
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Year of publication: 2005

Powered by WordPress