cover image Bone: Rose

Bone: Rose

Jeff Smith, . . Scholastic, $10.99 (138pp) ISBN 978-0-545-13543-6

Every good epic not only deserves but needs a prequel. So Jeff Smith's Bone , one of the great graphic novel epics, gets a teasing look at what happened in that magic realm before the series started in earnest. Opening with a Nordic saga-like origin myth about how the dragon queen Mim was driven mad by the lord of the Locusts and buried in stone to protect the world, Rose shifts into a traditional fantasy melodrama about two princesses. Rose is the more beloved, headstrong and inattentive to her lessons about how to control her powerful ability to magically dream. Her sister, Briar, is a darker soul, ambitious and resentful of the attention directed at Rose. When the two are called to their final tests in the danger-fogged mountains of the Northern Valley, they are soon launched into a fiery cauldron of betrayal and battles—all of it witnessed by the dolorous, mournful eyes of the Great Red Dragon. Vess's dramatic, detailed illustrations remain powerful, but feel cramped by the small trim size. Smith's tart writing easily weaves humor and tension into a tale packed with lessons on politics and morality. (Aug.)