TenNapel's Nnewts Epic Fantasy of Amphibious Proportions

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Nnewts - Escape from the Lizzarks by Doug TenNapel

Doug TenNapel introduces a new world to his fans with the first book of the NNEWTS series, ESCAPE FROM THE LIZZARKS. At its most basic level, NNEWTS pits peaceful amphibians against aggressive reptiles. Both sides employ different magics, with the Nnewts relying on their magician and the Lizzarks relying on their Wizzark (and yes, TenNapel knows how that sounds, and even pokes fun at the idea himself within the story).

When the Lizzarks invade Nnewtown, they kill ruthlessly. The only apparent escapee is young Herk, who has been cursed with tiny back legs which prevent him from walking out of the water. His flight leads him to a lost kingdom, a confrontation with an evil deity, and a lost colony of Nnewts, with hints of mystical connections Herk never knew he had.

TenNapel doesn't shy away from tragedy in this graphic novel; characters die, and go into the afterlife, into the arms of Orion (no connection to the Prince song from the BATMAN soundtrack), who isn't averse to employing a little divine intervention. TenNapel also leaves a lot of loose ends dangling to entice the readers into the next book, introducing strange characters, setting up unsolved mysteries, and leaving readers with a cliffhanger that will present Herk with even greater challenges in the future.



The one element of the storytelling that didn't hook me was how much deus ex machina devices are employed. The way Herk claims a reward after his battle was a little too Brothers Grimm when seeing it happen in panel form, although this being a book of magic I suppose I shouldn't really be that surprised. Scene transitions are also sometimes of a "quick cut" variety, which is a style TenNapel employs in his other novels, like BAD ISLAND, CARDBOARD and TOMMYSAURUS REX.

Campbell's classic "Hero's Journey" gets taken out for another spin, and TenNapel has demonstrated he's definitely up to the task.

3.5 / 5.0