Sunday, August 18, 2013
Rose by Jeff Smith and Charles Vess is a prequel to Smith's sprawling comic book epic Bone. It tells of the early life of "Grandma Ben", a pivotal character in the sprawling saga. Though a sequel, it's best that this story be read after the larger Bone, because alas some key secrets are revealed here.
But as a story on its own merits, it's a winner. Rose and her sister Briar, both princesses of the land Atheia are summoned to Old Man's Cave where they are to study to become better stewards of their land. But things get complicated when a rogue river dragon named Balsaad escapes and threatens the Valley in which they live. Rose is torn between her duties and her obligations as she must deal with the threat of the dragon and the threat of the Lord of Locusts who is behind everything. Also along for the ride is the mysterious Red Dragon and the Rat Creatures from Bone lore.
It's best not to say too much, because this is a riveting little story, which gives us greater insight into the world which the Bones will discover a few generations later. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this story is the magnificent artwork by Charles Vess. His gentle illustrations are absolutely ideal for this somber fairy tale. The book is an outstanding entertainment and highly recommend.
Here are some the covers which graced the original three-part limited series from Cartoon Books. The two dogs by the way are named Euclid and Cleo.
And this is the cover for the later hardback edition.