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The Saga Of Seven Seas: Veiled Alliances by Kevin J. Anderson and Robert Teranishi with Wendy Fonts-Broome

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Buy The Saga Of Seven Seas: Veiled Alliances in the USA - or Buy The Saga Of Seven Seas: Veiled Alliances in the UK

author pic

pub: DC Comics. 96 graphic novel. Price: $24.95 (US). ISBN: 1-56389-902-7 hardback: Price: $24.95 (US); $37.95 (CAN). ISBN: 1-56389-901-9).

check out website: www.dccomics.com and www.wildstorm.com

I really like graphic novels - always have. Loved comics as a child (X-Men, ElfQuest, the 2000AD universe) then graduated to the books ('Dark Knight Returns', 'Ballad of Halo Jones', 'Watchmen'). Then I discovered manga...but that's a whole other story...

The skill involved in creating a successful graphic novel astounds me. Obviously the basic story has to be appealing in some way - exciting, dramatic, heavily visual - and lend itself to illustration. The artwork should be tempting, the colours (if used) eye-catching, and the quality consistent. The layout should echo the plot.

If the story is complex, the layout should reinforce that complexity - but not to the extent of confusion or there's a risk of the reader giving up. The characters should be attractive, pleasant - or striking, or memorable - to look at (they don't necessarily have to be particularly realistically portrayed, though) and the background appropriate to the action. 'Veiled Alliances' succeeds on all counts.



Briefly, for those who don't know the story. In 2100AD, Earth sent out eleven massive, slow-moving ships in the hope of finding other worlds where they could establish colonies. Instead, one of the ships was found by the Ildirans, humanoid aliens whose civilisation had already been in existence for over fifteen thousand years. The Ildirans searched for the other ships, and assisted the humans in founding colonies. Of course, that's only the barest outline of the plot!

While 'The Saga Of The Seven Suns' isn't one of my favourite literary epics, I freely admit it's a massive and wonderfully complex work and to attempt a graphic novel - even a prequel like Veiled Alliances - might seem like an impossible task.

But it works and works very well indeed. The story has been sliced into 'chapters', starting on Earth, then jumping to each of the main human colony worlds in turn, with a trip back to Earth between each to catch the next part of the ongoing narrative. The origins of the more exotic colonies are explained. I found Theroc and Dobro particularly interesting. We meet a few of the characters who will be instrumental in the future. There are some intriguing initial hints of events and beings that will be further explored in the books. Even in this (necessarily) condensed format it's easy to gain an understanding of the scale of the Saga as a whole.

'Veiled Alliances' boasts some of the most beautifully realistic artwork I've seen in a graphic novel, the whole largely executed in bright, glowing pastels. The characters are striking, their faces subtly expressive and the Ildirans just sufficiently different from the humans to feel properly alien.

The landscapes and architecture of the different worlds is handled with sensitive economy (enough detail for the reader to get a feel for the place, but not enough to unnecessarily overwhelm the foreground action or characters). The only section that doesn't quite work is that set on Ildira: the colours here really should be far brighter and stronger - the planet does have seven suns, after all. On the whole, though, it's a fine read and an excellent introduction to the series.

The main disadvantage with any graphic novel is that the reader is presented with the artist's vision of the characters and environments. To some extent, this removes the possibility of envisioning the work for oneself (much the same as 'the film of the book' often makes it impossible to imagine the story any other way). Then again, that's what graphic novels are about! At their best they straddle the line between art and literature, and

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