Young Prince Kaidan is sent away to study with his Aunt Taleissa on the Isle of Women. He is bestowed the great sword Taliburn before he’s sent away as a reminder of his birthright. Upon returning home, he’s found his whole kingdom in ruins and himself on the run from the Knights of Vermillion. They want to hunt him down, as his resurfacing is a threat to the empire of Scathelocke. Kaidan, now passing himself off as Kay, is taken in by a band of people living in the forest. Anne, Robert, and Sturdy John seem like decent people… but are they truly on his side? With everyone hunting for him, who can he possibly trust?

I was pretty excited for this one, and it did not disappoint. It’s a riotous, rollicking adventure that doesn’t let up on the gas – yet, it’s pretty emotional too. Flashbacks with threads of Kaidan wanting to live up to his parents’ expectations, and rivalries from both his childhood in the kingdom and his time on the Isle of Women, have the potential to be explored in later volumes.

The tone was overall cinematic in scope, from both a writing standpoint as an action-oriented character study, and in the art. There is a phenomenal sense of place stemming from the medieval backgrounds and character designs. The colors are muted, with blues and greens dominating, further evoking the feeling of medieval England. Characters are drawn with emphasis on movement, with sharp expressions and angular linework.

Though this graphic novel is intended for middle-grade and YA audiences, this is one epic Arthurian retelling that folks of all ages can enjoy. I’m highly looking forward to the next volume.

– Kathleen

Chin-Tanner, Tyler, and James Boyle. The Orphan King (Vol. 1). 2021.