When I interviewed television and comic writer Brandon Easton in October about his upcoming graphic novel Shadowlaw, I was intrigued by his description of an alternate history where the Catholic Church has taken over control of the world, supposedly to bring everyone into the faith and protect it from evil. But all is not as it appears with the church hierarchy and its enemies, and it becomes difficult if not impossible to tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys.
The book sounded great but it also seemed a weighty idea and I wondered if all the world building would overwhelm the action.
I needn’t have worried. This story is one of the best I’ve read at integrating eye-popping action sequences and backstory. The pacing never slows down and the story never sags.
Once I started reading my review copy, I couldn’t stop until I reached the end. The plot kept surprising me in a good way. I had to find out what was really going on, I worried for the main character’s physical and emotional well-being, and I became invested to the point where I was bummed when the story ended and I didn’t have more.
I hesitate to go into details without giving away spoilers but the basic plot is that Rictor Caesario, the foster son of one of the church’s most prominent members, makes a decision during his mission to pacify a local uprising that changes his life and throws him right in the middle of the struggle between the New Earth Alliance run by the Church and its opponents, both seen and unseen.
Rictor is what holds the narrative together as readers view the story entirely through his eyes, which means whenever he’s surprised, so are we. He’s a great mix of being a confident, almost cocky fighter, and a sometimes confused person of faith.