cover image Neotopia 3: The Kingdoms Beyond

Neotopia 3: The Kingdoms Beyond

Rod Espinosa. Antarctic, $9.99 (176pp) ISBN 978-1-932453-75-1

The third volume of this anime-inspired fantasy finds commoner Nalyn impersonating the arrogant Grand Duchess Nydia and negotiating for foreign troops to help her defend her homeland, Mathenia. Nalyn travels with her advisers, a stork-like "tridactylian" and a dolphin; a tiny elf named Nimn; and an army made up partly of humans, partly of chipper koala-like creatures. The group forms a happy, if motley, family for the stand-in ruler. Espinosa (The Courageous Princess ) uses his robust imagination and impressive attention to artistic detail to envision and portray the countries beyond Mathenia, showing the different ways they developed due to their misuse of technology and abuse of the natural world. Espinosa's dialogue and comic timing endear his characters to readers, and his art is gorgeous. The plot is nicely paced, and the character details come together to make a great story. This should be a hit with manga and fantasy lovers, especially 'tween girls. (Apr.)