The Gondwana Shrine is the fourth of the new adventures of Blake And Mortimer by writer Yves Sente and artist André Juillard, originally published in French in 2008 and based on the original characters created by E.P. Jacobs.
Following on from his ordeal in The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent, Professor Mortimer is suffering headaches and memory lapses and has been told by his doctor to take a rest from his work. Meeting Nastasia Wardynska, she tells him that analysis of an artifact that he brought back from Antarctica suggests that is from a civilisation that predates the earliest so far known.
Discovering that a similar artifact has been discovered in Tanganyika in east Africa, Mortimer persuades an old girlfriend, Sarah Summertown, who is a novelist and amateur archaeologist, to go with him and Nastasia to Africa to investigate the area around where the second artifact was discovered. Meanwhile in London, Captain Blake is confronted by a mysterious stranger who convinces him that Mortimer will need a lot of assistance in Africa.
Writer Yves Sente continues his Blake and Mortimer sequence with a story that begins in a fairly standard way and then, building on the plot of The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent, heads off on a totally unexpected direction. Gondwana was the name of the ancient southern supercontinent and the tale does indeed take in truly ancient events albeit at times getting more far fetched than even the more science fictional Blake and Mortimer books normally do. That said the strength of the book is in its characters and with Nastasia from The Voronov Plot and yet another former girlfriend of Mortimer in Sarah, Sente has included characters that the reader grows concerned for as the story progresses.
André Juillard’s artwork is impressive with accurate depictions of both the wildlife of Africa and the technology of the late 1950s/early 1960s period that these new Blake and Mortimer stories are set in – although quite why his accurately drawn French Air Force Noratlas propeller driven transport aircraft is called a Jumbo Jet in the text is beyond me.
The first of Sente’s four B&M books was the rather wordy and somewhat dull The Voronov Plot but he found his feet with the two part Sarcophagi tale. The Gondwana Shrine does not require the reader to have read both Sarcophagi books first but, as it is a sequel to them, it would definitely help.
The Gondwana Shrine is a Blake and Mortimer book that takes both the characters and the reader to an unexpected place and those who enjoyed the previous Sente and Juillard books will not be disappointed.
There are more details of the English language Blake and Mortimer books on the Cinebook website.
There are more details on the series in general on the official Blake and Mortimer website (in French).
News, reviews, interviews and features for print and on-line: Spaceship Away (since October 2005), Bear Alley (since February 2007), downthetubes (since June 2007), and Eagle Times (since October 2008). Plus DC Thomson’s The Art Of Ian Kennedy, Titan’s Dan Dare and Johnny Red reprints, Ilex’s War Comics: A Graphic History and 500 Essential Graphic Novels, and Print Media’s The Iron Moon and Strip magazine.