Category Archives: Book Review

Review: BERSERK Volume 15

BERSERK 15

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The “elves” have come to the village, and they are not the little sprites of legend like Puck. As the villagers flee, Guts takes a stand. The Black Swordsman quest for vengeance has lead him to another demon. Rosine may look cute and innocent, a young girl who has transformed into a butterfly-wind fairy, but evil lurks inside of her.

As her “elves” raid through the town for their sick version of play, Guts does what he can to stop her. Seeing them chasing a child, he uses the kid as bait. But killing the elves learns the truth of what they really are. All the children that have gone missing have been transformed into demonic creatures. To defeat this next demon, Guts will have to further destroy his soul.

Wounded, hated by the villagers he just saved, Guts ventures out into the woods to find the lair. Jill, the girl he saved, wants to come with him. She realizes that the elf queen is her missing friend Rosine. Wanting to know the truth, she’s about to witness the true horrors of the world.

BERSERK doesn’t flinch from the harshness of this world. Even a young girl can sacrifice those she loves and becomes a demon. She has a twisted version of “play.” It’s adult style, where her children-demons fight each other, kill each other, and more. We get a glimpse into the dark psyche of a child raised by abuse manifested in the innocent and heartless way her demonic powers have manifested.

Miura’s story continues on. But is Guts on the right path? Is he doing the right thing, or just making the world worse? Can this world even be saved when so much evil pervades it? Miura delves into such deep themes.

If you’re a fan of amazing fantasy, especially the grimdark variety, then you need to read this graphic novel!

You can buy BERSERK Vol 15 from Amazon.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 1

Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 1

Story by Ryukishio7

Story by Karin Suzuragi

Reviewed by JMD Reid

“Please don’t be sad,

Even if the world doesn’t forgive you, I will forgive you.

Please don’t be sad,

Even if you don’t forgive the world, I will forgive you.

So please tell me,

What shall I do so that you’ll forgive me.”

—Frederica Bernkastel

If you know the story the above poem that opens the series is stunning. Who is Frederica Bernkastel? What is going on in his series? You’ll have to read to find out.

Keiichi Maebara is newly transferred to the sleepy mountain village of Hinamizawa in the summer of 1983. He’s quickly made friends with some of the local girls, Rena, Satako, Rika, and their leader, Mion. He feels like he has a new life. A new start from living in the city of Tokyo.

But there is something dark lurking beneath the surface of Hinamizawa, a dangerous past that his new friends are hiding from him. Why don’t they want him to know the truth of the village? What are the concealing from him?

As Keiichi discovers more of the village, can he truly trust his new friends? Are Rena and Mion wanting to protect him, or are they setting him up to be the next victim?

Higurashi is a rather interesting story. IT starts out light and fun, the characters introduced well. They have a fun atmosphere, hyper-competitive but in a good-hearted way. You can see that they know each other and are welcoming the newcomer Keiichi.

And then he hears rumors about the village’s past. Suddenly his friends are acting weird. A sense of unease slowly pervades the story. Paranoia steps in as things grow more and more dire. The story has a mystery that keeps you reading while the characters keep you engaged. What is going on? What will happen? Are Rena and Mion truly his friends, or are they something else?

These questions will be begging to be answered over the course of this manga.

The art is great, bouncing between the playful to the tense with skill. The artist captures both with ease. If you’ve played the doujin visual novel this is based off of, you’ll see the story is being faithfully adapted.

Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni is one of the best mystery series in Japanese pop culture. Whether it’s the anime, the original doujin novels, or this manga series, it’s worth checking out!

You can buy Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 1 from Amazon.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Reveiw: Darkblade Savior(Hero of Darkness 6)

Darkblade Savior(Hero of Darkness 6)

by Andy Peloquin

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The Hunter has finally reached Enarium and he has finally found his wife. The mysterious woman who has haunted his memory, vestige of life he lived before his memory was repeatedly whipped for the last five thousand years.

But is Taiana the same woman he loved. Can he trust the woman who plunged a dagger into his chest despite what he feels for her? Does he have much choice? Because the world is about to end. The demonic Sage has also arrived in Enarium. His forces hold the city. The energy gathers in its bowels.

Soon, it will be unleashed along with the Destroyer.

The Hunter will have to figure out what is going on, how to save the young boy Hailien, and stop the Sage from unleashing the embodiment of entropy onto the world? After all the Hunter has learned, he’s about to discover he knows nothing.

This concludes the first arc of the Hunter’s story. And it is amazing. The story flows form twists and turns, peeling back the obscuring millennia that has hidden the truth of the story. The characters are great. Peloquin has already made you care for the Hunter and Hailien, now he has new characters to flesh out. You ache for the Hunter and his wife to have their reunion, but not even you the reader can trust her. It gives a sense of impending doom looming over everything. That one false step, and it will all come crashing down.

This series was a satisfying read. It hurtled you along, carrying you from one breathless action piece to the next. Each one built and built towards the epic conclusion. It was a great ride, and I’m glad that the Hunter story isn’t over. I’m eager to see where the story goes next!

Fans of fantasy, you have to check out one of the up and comers in the indie fantasy market! Andy’s works are astounding!

You can buy Darkblade Savior from Amazon. Check out Andy Peloquin’s website, connect on Linked In, follow him on Google Plus, like him on Twitter @AndyPeloquin, and like him on Facebook.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: BERSERK 14

BERSERK 14

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Newly recovered from his injures suffered from the eclipse, Guts has to face his new life living in the boundary between life and death. Thanks to the brand he received when Griffith offered him a sacrifice, evil spirits seek to devour his soul.

And he’s not the only one branded.

Caska, her mind reduced to that of a child after being raped by the demonic Griffith, has no idea the danger she’s in. Guts has to race to her fast to protect her from the demons. But will it matter? Even if he saves her, she now fears and hates him, so traumatized by her experience. Her mind is broken. Nothing is ever the same.

All that is left for Guts is vengeance. The Black Swordsman we met at the beginning of this series is born.

Volume 14 also jumps us to two years later, putting is after the events of the early volume. Guts, now traveling with Puck, is about to find another one of the demonic apostles. He has another chance to find vengeance.

Miura’s epic continues. For those who watched the original anime, this volume carries it beyond what that started. From here on out, the story isn’t known. We don’t know if Guts will survive his vengeance. We don’t know if Caska will ever regain her sanity. All we can do is march with Guts ever on, trying to defy fate in a world that has lost all hope and given in to evil.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 14 from Amazon.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: BERSERK 13

BERSERK 13

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The demonic horde has been unleashed upon the Band of the Hawk. Griffith has sacrificed his former followers to achieve his dream. While he incubates to become a dark god, Guts, Caska, and the rest battle for their survival.

But the odds are against them. Nightmarish monsters abound. They are all hungry for the feast. The hundreds of soldiers, the best trained army in Midland, are no match for their foes. One by one they fall. Familiar faces we’ve come to love perish one by one until it’s only Guts and Caska left.

Guts’s fury carries him far, but even he has finally found his limits here. In the nightmare, forced to watch as Griffith is reborn and comes to ravish Caska. Pinned by demon, his arm ripped off, his eye blind, we finally see the moment that births the Black Swordsman.

A man impotent to save the woman he loves from being destroyed by the man he once thought of as his friend. Thirteen volumes have built up to this moment. We have finally arrived at what shaped Guts into that cold, murderous beast at the start hunting demons, searching for Griffith to enact his vengeance.

Everything good in Guts’s life was snuffed out in a moment. By the selfish choice of one man. And now Guts only has his rage to fuel him. Though he’ll survive the eclipse, he’ll be forever trapped in the boundary between life and death. Can he ever get vengeance?

Can he ever move on with his life?

Will his rage destroy him?

BERSERK continues to astound and amazed. The depth of the characters and writing shines here. It’s powerful to witness it all come undone. How it flows towards this one moment. It feels almost inevitable. Fate has made its decree and though Guts has defied it for now, can he defy it forever. As Slan says, “A fish jumping out to the fiver does little more than ripple the surface.”

If you’re not reading BERSERK, you should be. This story is breathtaking in its scope and themes.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 13 from Amazon.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: BERSERK 12

BERSERK 12

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The eclipse has arrived. The moment the series has been building towards: what happened to turn Guts into the Black Swordsman and Griffith into the demonic Femto. After losing everything, his body tortured and mutilated, his tongue removed, denied the ability to command his Band of the Hawk, Griffith faces a hopeless future as an invalid being cared for by Caska.

What future is that for a poor orphan who dreamed of being a king? Of attaining that castle on the hill? He came so close. If it wasn’t for one man. If it wasn’t for Guts, the only person to ever make Griffith waver from his dream.

The only person to ever make Griffith weak.

No, before the Godhand, the demonic entities that create the apostles, he’s given a choice. Sacrifce Guts and the surviving Band of the Hawk, or let all those deaths, all those boys who perished, in service of attaining his dream be for nothing. He has one last chance to attain it. It just requires a few more sacrifices.

Then he’ll never be weak again.

We know how this ends. Mirua already showed us that Guts survives and that Griffith makes the choice. Now we just have to learn what happens next. Are their others? Will Caska, the woman Guts loves, survive, too?

The feast of the eclipse has began.

This is one of the most powerful pieces of fantasy out there. The images convey the emotions, while the character and story drives it forward. Miura has crafted these characters, built them so that when we got to this point, we understand what we read before. Why Guts is fueled by rage and anger, why he’s so desperate not to just kill Griffith, but to be noticed by him. We understand who Griffith is and what leads him to make that terrible choice.

In a world of cause and effect, where free will is an illusion, Griffith had no choice to make. His dream was at hand. Circumstances had reduced him to a pitiful state but hadn’t robbed him of his drive to keep fighting. His will remains intact. His rationale is in place to commit such a horrific act.

Volume 12 and 13 are why BERSERK is a masterpiece of not only graphic novels, but modern fantasy in general.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 12 from Amazon.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: BERSERK 11

BERSERK 11

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The Band of the Hawk, thanks to Guts’s help, have rescued Griffith from the Midland dungeons. But their ones handsome and charismatic leader has been reduced to a scarred, shriveled shell. Every tendon in his body severed, his tongue removed, the flesh almost wasted from his body. He’ll never command an army or ride into war. The dream of their mercenary band rising again looks futile.

And they’re not even out of danger. The King of Midland has unleashed Wyld and his Black Dog Knights, a band of savages who spread brutal suffering wherever they go. They are on the hunt for Griffith. Nothing will stop them from their rampage.

But Wyld is not like other men. When Guts turns to face him, he feels that terror fill him as if he stands before Zodd or the Knight of Skeleton. Wyld is no man. Once again, Guts has to fight another demon. Will he have the strength to win this time?

Well, yes, we know that. The one thing we don’t know from reading this series is the fate of everyone else. What happens to Caska, Pippin, Rickert, Juduea, and the rest of the Band of the Hawk. What led to the tragedy of the now-broken Griffith becoming the demonic Godhand we met earlier in the story. Is it Wyld that unleashes these changes, or is it something else to come?

BERSERK is building towards that promised moment that turned Guts into the Black Swordsman and Griffith into the demonic god Femto. The stakes are rising, the tension is building, and the characters we’ve grown to care for over the last eight or nine volumes are about to be put into the crucible.

The eclipse awaits.

Miura is a master at storytelling. Wyld is a disgusting and loathsome creature, just like the other apostles we met in the beginning of this story (and who had cameo appearances in the last volume). We start to learn just what they are. Do as you will. These are men that appear unbound from the currents of fate, free to act as they will at the behest of dark gods.

But do their actions only further a greater plan? Does Guts’s struggle actually only benefit the very entities he seeks to destroy? BERSERK is a great series that asks such deep and hard questions. It’s a manga unlike few others. It has true depths to the characters, true heart in its pages. Fans of fantasy, especially grimdark fantasy, will find a tale that will captivate them.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 11 from Amazon.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: BERSERK 10

BERSERK 10

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The Band of the Hawk, rejoined by Guts, are ready to break Griffith out of jail. With the aid of Princess Charlotte, still in love with Griffith even after a year of his imprisonment, is willing to defy her father to save him. With Guts at the lead, Caska and the others venture into the dungeons.

But what will they find in the darkest cell? It has been a year of torture for Griffith. Will they even find the same man they once followed? Or will they merely find a broken shell, so brutalized he’ll be an invalid for the rest of his life.

As the Band ventures deeper, dark things move through the world. Something is gathering. A year ago, Guts was given a prophesy. The eclipse is coming, and the evil in the world coalesces to celebrate.

Not only does Volume 10 have some powerful imagery in it, it does more to further the back story and set up so many theories about just what is going on with the Godhand, the enigmatic Knight of Skeleton, and more in this one chapter. Are we witnessing a cycle that happened a thousand years ago played out again? Maybe?

What does that mean for the future of the series? So many great theories out there.

The story continues to be incredible. The artwork captures the emotions, from the helpless suffering of Griffith, the determination of the sheltered princess, and the rage of Guts as he does the only thing he’s good at: swings his sword. The characters and art continues to excel. The passion bleeds off the page. This is writing and art mixed together to make something amazing, something only found in the medium of the comic.

If you’re a fan of fantasy, especially the grimdark subgenre, you have to check out this novel. Fans of Bakker, Abercrombie, and Erikson will find so much in this series!

You can buy BERSERK Vol 10 from Amazon.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: The Line of Illiniel (Mageborn Book Two)

The Line of Illiniel (Mageborn Book Two)

by Michael G. Manning

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Mordecai, newly discovered to be both one of the last living mages and the heir to a small noble family, is trying to rebuild his family estate with the help of his adopted father and his fiancee, Penny. When people start disappearing in the night, Mordecai has to hone the craft of his self-taught magic to face it.

But a darker threat looms on the horizon: war.

When Penny has a vision that Mordecai will be slain in six months atop his castle walls, it’s confirmation to the rumors. The Gododdin are preparing for their invasion. Using what remaining time is left, Mordecai devotes it to protecting his people even if that means defying his king. Or his fiancee.

The Line of Illeniel expands on the world created in The Blacksmith’s Son, building on the magic and history hinted at. Mordecai has to face new problems, including his impending death. Penny’s visions are never wrong. That knowledge provides much of the tension between the characters. How can Mordecai have any hope of the future when his own fiancee is eager to die with him. He wants there to be something left to remember him, like any of us would.

Drowning in sorrow, you can feel his pain as he prepares to use his magic to kill thousands. The book mixes wry humor and harsh realities. It flows fast, the emotions bursting off the page, plunging towards the ending.

There is one subplot that is given a lot of weight in the beginning and is all but abandoned by the characters in favor of the war, with only a little tease that it’s going to be a much bigger problem in the future. It feels like a plot that could be excised from this book without changing it, but this is a larger part of a series, so I’m hoping for payoff down the road.

All in all, if you liked The Blacksmith Son, this gives even more of the characters you come to know and fleshes out a few who didn’t get much time in the last book. On another note, the epilogue and afterward were touching.

You can buy The Line of Illiniel from Amazon.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: BERSERK 9

BERSERK 9

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Guts has left the Band of the Hawk to find his own dream. He wants to stand as Griffith equal as his friend. But Griffith needs Guts. He’s the one person Griffith truly trusts, perhaps even loves. Losing Guts has sent Griffith reeling. Needing to take control of his dream, he sneaks into Princess Charlotte’s bedroom.

The naive princess, in love with Griffith, surrenders her virginity to him. Lost in the throes of passion, Griffith can only think about Guts. It is the beginning of the end for Griffith’s dream. He is caught sneaking out of her room and thrown in the dungeon. The king, jealous that his daughter would rather have a commoner than himself, orders Griffith tortured to death.

The Band of the Hawk, oblivious to Griifith arrest, assemble for their morning muster. Unarmed, they are attacked by the king’s army.

Guts has no idea any of this has happened. He’s on his own quest and has a sinister encoutner with the Knight of Skeleton. In one year, Guts’s is told, everyone he knows shall perish. Sacrificed.

Miura really upsets the apple cart with this one. Up until the end of the last volume, Griffith has never had a loss. He’s never made a mistake. He has defeated everyone except Guts. What should be a little hiccup in his plan instead chokes it away. It is over. He’s imprisoned and tortured. His army is decimated.

And a moan whose lost everything is a desperate men.

The prophecy given only makes us, the reader, aware that what we saw in those early volumes will soon come to passed. We’ve wondered what could make Griffith sacrifice his loyal army. Sacrifice Guts, who had become his friend. Now we see. The pieces are falling into place. The story marches on with a tragic pace even as it has moments of joy.

The stuff between Guts and Caska at the end of the volume are some of the best scenes in BERSERK. The pair have slowly been opening up their wounded souls to each other. One moment of happiness before we head into the horrors of the eclipse.

Miura masterpiece continues to unfold! If you’ve watched the original Anima from the 90s, then you’re already starting to see the divergence with the character of Silat, who plays a big role in about twenty volumes, being introduced here. The art continues to be great. The characters are complex and full of pain and hopes, dreams and joys.

If you love fantasy, especially grimdark fantasy, then you need to read this graphic novel series! Don’t be put off by the violence. There is a truly powerful story being told.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 9 from Amazon.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather