A Thief Among the Trees: An Ember in the Ashes Graphic Novel

Archaia. Jul. 2020. 144p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781684155248.
Gr 8 Up–The first graphic novel in a three-volume prequel series, this story explores the pasts of much-loved characters from Tahir’s “An Ember in the Ashes” series. Elias, Helene, and Tavi are Fivers—they’ve made it to their fifth year of brutal training at Blackcliff Academy and are now trying to survive four years of dangerous missions out in the wilds to become elite military soldiers for the Martial Empire. When they are sent to steal a heavily guarded poison on a deadly island, they find themselves up against a host of lethal adversaries; they also must overcome their insecurities and inexperience. Full-color artwork depicts dangers lurking around every corner. Strong ink lines with striking panels that use bold colors and plenty of motion lines propel the action. Nonstop activity flows naturally from panel to panel, and the characters are distinct, their struggles and differing worldviews adding depth to a somewhat thin plot. The dialogue enhances the progression of the story line and feels authentic.
VERDICT This prequel explores the far-reaching experiences that shaped the main characters of this wildly popular series. It will introduce the world of “An Ember in the Ashes” to a brand-new audience and also delight long time fans.

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