The Highlands of Daradja are dotted with ancient citadels and castles, held by petty kings and clans that war against each other and the brigand bands that plague the bleak mountains and valleys. Artesia, once a concubine to King Branimir of the Citadel of Dara Dess, has in time risen to become one of his chief war captains; a priestess to dread goddesses; and a magician like her mother once was, controlling warlike spirits.
She and her captains carry the cause of their king against his enemies in the field, but afraid of her growing power, her King betrays her and takes new allies: knights from the neighboring Middle Kingdoms, who follow a foreign god, the Divine King, and persecute witches. And in the middle of betrayal and tragedy comes word that the Middle Kingdoms have been invaded by an ancient enemy to them all, the Empire of Thessid-Gola…
The first volume in an epic military fantasy, Artesia won ForeWord Magazine’s Gold Award Winner for Best Graphic Novel of 2003; was selected as Best Comics Entry at the 2004 DIY Book Festival; and was winner of Broken Frontier’s 2004 Paper Screen Gem for Fantasy (www.brokenfrontier.com).
Author Mark Smylie was nominated for the Russ Manning Award for Best Newcomer in 1999 and for an Eisner Award in 2001; his illustrations have appeared in works for Wizards of the Coast, White Wolf, and AEG. He wrote a role-playing game as a companion piece to the Artesia series, Artesia: Adventures in the Known World, which won the Origins Award for 2005 Roleplaying Game of the Year and was nominated for 6 ENnies.
This book is intended for Mature Readers, and contains graphic violence and nudity.
Comics has no other on-going story quite like Artesia, nor does it have many other female characters as dynamic and intelligently written as her. This series is a treasure.... The drama in Artesia does not come from swinging swords and epic battles — although Mark Smylie's insanely good at drawing those — it comes from his intense understanding of what happens when people come together in the name of politics and religion, of his understanding of the evil and the good that mankind is capable of." -- Katherine Keller - SequentialTart.com
The thinking man’s fantasy epic for the 21st century begins here… The world of Daradja [is] as infinitely detailed as any ever created in the annals of fantasy. Smylie cites Tolkien and Robert E. Howard as his influences…and he seems to have captured the essence they began their epic stories with and spun it into something uniquely his own. Never before has a tale of such immense magnitude and depth debuted in comic book form…” -- Mike Bullock, creator of Lions, Tigers & Bears
“Artesia is a vivid and compelling character: strong, bold, hard, and passionate… Smylie's impressive art, with its lush painted colors, has a European feel, underscored by his very European matter-of-fact portrayal of bloody violence, sexual situations, and full frontal nudity.” -- The Library Journal
“War, love, lust, hate – Artesia has it all…in a fantasy world that combines the best storytelling methods of Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Howard, and Tolkien, adds a healthy dose of classical mythological syncretism, a deep and rich history, and engaging characters – all melded to an incredible, breathtaking art... -- James Mishler, Comics Buyers Guide
“Artesia is, in a word, breathtaking. The full color, Barry Windsor-Smith-like art will draw you in from the first page… The way he approaches themes such as religion, sexuality, and the use and abuse of power, elevates this into a true work of art, in the same tradition as Cerebus, Elfquest, A Distant Soil and Finder. In a better world, a book like this would be an international bestseller… A” -- Rich Watson’s Top 10 of 2004, - www.ComicWorldNews.com
“Smylie really has created a whole entire world filled with details very rarely seen in this medium... It takes the best parts of great civilizations throughout history to make the complexity needed for such a grand scale world. The art is simply stunning throughout each novel in an exquisite painted form…this may be one of the best series I have ever read.” -- Glenn H - www.thecomicsreview.com
If Robert E. Howard wrote comics, this would be it.Battles and their aftermaths are beautifully written (and portrayed)… Artesia is one of the best fantasy comics I've read. Awe-inspiring artwork, good storytelling, and a superbly detailed world combine to create an original and interesting epic story." -- Shannon Appelcline, - www.rpg.net