Science fiction and fantasy                                            


by Alex Alice


Alex Alice's version of the Siegfried legend begins with a minimum of dialogue, and the atmosphere dialled up to the max. The artwork is simply stunning, and the artist and author has a way with light that makes everything look more epic.

This graphic novel covers the hero's early life from before he was born through to his adolescence. It's framed by having an ancient Nibelung retell the tale to a masked rider in white. The Nibelungs here are an underground race of miners, fond of their gold and metalwork. Fafnir, the king of them all, has his heart broken by a certain shield maiden charged with guarding Odin's gold. So Fafnir steals this gold, has a magic ring made, enslaves people, then retreats into sorcery and madness. Then Mimé the Nibelung blacksmith goes on a journey to the edge of his world, until he finds the infant Siegfried. He promises his dying mother that he'll raise the boy in ignorance of the gods. Up to this point the story is told second hand, and it isn't until Siegfried's boyhood that there's the liveliness and immediacy of seeing events and dialogue unfold as they happen.

Siegfried is a handful for Mimé to raise, fond of wolves and hunting. They clash about this and other things. The young man is wild, but he's also very far from his own kind. There's a sense that Mimé isn't a very good guardian, and as Siegfried gets older he seems to realise this more and more. The old Nibelung is working on some kind of scheme involving poison, and he wants the young man to grow up and slay a dragon. So Siegfried has a tough quest ahead of him that he doesn't know about and isn't adequately prepared for.

The story ends very inconclusively, with everything to play for and most of it yet to be told. It also ends about half way through the book, with the rest given over to sketches, a long interview, and some details about the animated film. The interview seemed a bit self-aggrandising, but some of this non-story artwork is jaw-dropping. There are images in a range of styles, but even when Alex Alice is drawing scenery with no narrative context it's evocative and beautiful.

The author's take on this legend is quite different from other versions, although there isn't exactly a canonical story in any case. He introduces new elements and gives it a sense of magic by setting it in an indistinct, legendary time and place. My main problem with Siegfried is how unfinished it seems, in the sense that the story is only just starting when it comes to an end. There's no closure at all in this volume, only openings and questions. The series might shape up well, but there isn't enough plot in this book for a satisfying read. I didn't feel like there was the chance to warm to the main characters. This is certainly a pretty graphic novel, but it needs to be longer.

14th January 2013

Book Details

Year: 2012

Categories: Books

  YA     Fantasy
    Male Protagonist  

If you like this, try:

The Gospel Of Loki cover    

The Gospel Of Loki by Joanne M. Harris
The trickster god of Asgard offers his version of events.

Wolfsangel cover    

Wolfsangel by M. D. Lachlan
Vikings, witches and werewolves clash with mad gods in this dark re-imagining of the Norse myths.

3 star rating

Review ©