Review by Karl Verhoven
Two volumes back, Belly of the Beast contained a number of revelations about the Rhodes family, not least that the grandson inheriting the true Terranos heritage wasn’t Mikey after all, but Brennan, who developed considerable, but unfocussed magical talents. Unfortunately for him, he was also abducted at the conclusion, and not seen during the subsequent Fatherhood, but Joshua Williamson returns him on the first page, along with his abductor from Terranos. It seems an agreement of some sort has been reched. We might have feared the worst, but it turns out Kallista takes the long view. Midway through the book Brennan asks “Share some of your magic so I can… feel good again, and not this… stupid sadness”. Is Williamson drawing parallels between use of magic and addiction? It’s a mantra reinforced by several characters that in Terranos magic is about pain, and hanging over the entire story is why we’ve never really been given much information about one of the supporting cast.
Until Blood Brothers, Birthright has been about Mikey Rhodes. Despite the creation of an ensemble cast, everyone to a greater or lesser extent has been defined by their relationship with Mikey. That balance is now shifting, but whereas Mikey is now an adult, Brennan is still a child, with the lack of understanding and resentments that brings, providing buttons that Kallista can all too easily push. What she may have underestimated is what could happen if she pushes too far. If Williamson doesn’t have a brother, he’s to be commended for a great depiction of family dynamics. It’s actually been handled well throughout the series, but here has a greater impact than any book since the first.
Andrei Bressan continues to amaze with the art. In the sample spread he’s experimenting a little, trying a slightly different style, and it works astoundingly well, with the colour provided by Adriano Lucas adding to the striking appearance of the foreground character. Elsewhere, it’s business as usual, with solid real world locations and imaginative fantasy.
While the Rhodes family are the centre of attention, the opening chapter also focuses on Terranos mage Mastema. She’s already highlighted as a particularly capricious and cruel mage, and while this volume doesn’t feature her present day incarnation, this look at her awkward teenage years provides more than enough compensation.
Birthright is a fantasy treat, where the past informs the present, and it’s business as usual with Blood Brothers. Live by the Sword is next.