In Review: Thorgal – Giants

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Writer Jean Van Hamme and artist Gzegorz Rosinski’s tales of the Viking adventurer Thorgal continue in Giants. Picking up from where Ogotai’s Crown, the previous book, left off Giants moves away from the science fiction time traveling of that book and into the fantasy of the Nordic gods and their giant foes.

After the Guardian took Thorgal’s name and memories from him in the Invisible Fortress, Kriss of Valnor convinced Thorgal that he was the pirate lord Shaigan the Merciless and the pair accumulated great wealth. However Thorgal has been getting suspicious of his Shaigan persona and when a prisoner names him as Thorgal, he eventually snaps and tries to escape Kriss’ clutches. Struck by lightning during the escape he is taken to Asgard by a Valkyrie and there Frigg, wife of Odin, explains his lack of memories to him. To regain those memories and his true life, Frigg tells him that he must travel from Asgard to the land of the giants and retrieve Odin’s ring Draupnir from Geirroed, king of the giants.

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The Thorgal books can veer from swords to sorcery to science fiction and between stand-alone stories in one book and arc stories in the next, and Giants is definitely a fantasy arc story. For regular readers that is a good thing as we see the apparent end of the Shaigan arc and return to the arc begun with The Invisible Fortress book. With Thorgal in his Shaigan persona, writer Jean Van Hamme has used the last few books to look at lesser characters in the series as well as play with alternate versions of the lead character so this book has the potential for getting the series back to a more normal footing. But first there is the need to please the Norse gods and the small matter of deceiving their giant foes.

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Artist Rosinski deals with the dark and dirty Shaigan castle escape with his usual aplomb and then gives us a strikingly pretty image of Asgard complete with a Valkyrie called Svana who is considerably more of a Tinkerbell-like sprite than the more typical Amazonian warrior. His artwork in the kingdom of the giants is rather more tongue-in-cheek than I have ever seen before which shows the giant characters depicted in a much more caricatured way than he would normally draw Thorgal’s foes. Yet given the out and out fantasy of the story at this point, it works for these characters.

While this is the fourteenth Thorgal book that Cinebook have published, due to the fact that the early titles each contained two French albums, this  is actually their twentieth tale of the Viking warrior. Thorgal – Giants is not a book for the casual reader but those that have stayed with the series and the character through his adventures to date it is a worthy addition to the overall story arc.

• There are more details of the English language Thorgal books at the Cinebook website

• There are more details of the French language Thorgal albums at the official Thorgal website (in French)

Thorgal: Giants is available through all good bookshops, physical and online, including Forbidden Planet and Waterstones

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Categories: Bande Dessines - Translated, Reviews

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