By John Connell
- Publication date: 1/24/2012
- Publisher: Sea Lion Books
- ISBN-13: 9780983613169
- Pages: 120
- Review Source: Sea Lion Books
- Preorder: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
The first graphic novel in the Carnal series, Pride of the Lions takes place on the continent of New Africa and focuses on three main species of humanistic animals. After the Great War decades earlier between the hyenas and the lions, the victorious and once united lion prides now lay scattered across the land, torn by civil unrest over territory disputes and food shortages. The hyena clans that survived the war were forced deep into the Earth and now live in a massive underground city under the control of a terrible witch. The buffalo race is indifferent to most other species and have walled themselves off from the rest of the kingdoms. Humans have lost their hold on the African territories long ago and live as a simple, nomadic species. The first book opens with Long Eyes, an old sapphire-eyed lion who is determined to save the lion kingdom and rescue his warrior son, Oron, who has gone missing. Long Eyes believes Oron is the key to uniting the prides. A young lioness tracker named Omi is sent out with the protection of two lion brothers to locate the missing warrior, but what they find is something that may unravel the very foundation of life for all species.
My Take on Carnal: Pride of the Lions:
John Connell has created a masterpiece. Moreover, he has created something new and exciting in the world of graphic novels. A rich and engrossing story coupled with lush illustrations, Carnal: Pride of the Lions is a well-oiled machine that feeds on readers emotions. It will leave you angry, teary-eyed, with knots in your stomach, and if you can get past all of those emotions and reach the final page, I guarantee it will leave you well satisfied and thirsty for more. What is Carnal exactly? Think of a cross between Planet of the Apes and Thundercats. It’s what you get when intelligent animals rule the world.
In Connell’s world, humans are the bottom of the food chain. Because of their greed, bloodlust, and their constant need for technological advancement (or magic), the world slowly began to unravel. Humans gave birth to animals that now have the ability to walk upright, talk, think as humans, and gain immense power. Animals currently rule the lands with an iron fist, driving humans to the brink of extension, back to a place where they are simple nomads fighting for their chance to survive. We have all heard these stories before, that technology will become our downfall. Yet if we were to think of it as what Connell has described in his graphic novel, I would suspect none of us are ready.
The story takes place in the vast Serengeti of Africa. A land once sacred to all mankind but has fallen into a constant state of unrest because of a growing rivalry between the three evolved dominant species of buffaloes, lions, and hyenas each with their own hidden agenda. After losing the Great War to the lions, hyenas have become cunning, ruthless creatures determined to wreak havoc on the mighty warriors who have sentenced them to a life below ground. And unbeknownst to the animals around them, the balance of power may soon shift in their favor.
Our main character is Oron. He is depicted as a ‘God like” lion, a savior or sorts, with unmatched strength, incredible height, and whose voice “thundered as deep as war drums”. Oron was sent by the tribal leader Long Eyes, along with two of his pride sister hunters, to find food for the pack in the forbidden hyena territory. Days go by without a word from Oron or the lionesses. Even worse, a mysterious old lion travels to the tribe and describes something deeply disturbing that happens to Oron and his pride sisters. Because of this, Long Eyes has to make a dangerous decision that will go on to affect his tribe for generations to come. And without giving too much of the plot away, I must say that the story of Oron will take a sharp turn that readers will never see coming.
Not only do we get the story of Oron, but we are also introduced to well developed side character complete with unique and fascinating histories. One of my favorites is Omi, a skilled tracker who found the tribe out of sheer luck with her mother when she was only just a cub. Although she has grown and developed into a beautiful yet deadly warrior, she is still searching for her place among the other female lions. Throughout the story her abilities will be tested and her fate soon becomes tied to Oron’s.
Overall Carnal: Pride of the Lions is a phenomenal well-rounded graphic novel that completely blew me away. It was a delight to read and thanks to the wonderful folks at Sea Lion I now have a new author to place among my other favorites such as Alan Robert. The artwork is ingenious. It’s like a gorgeous painting that enhances and adds depth to the story. If you are looking for a something new to sink your teeth into next year, I highly recommend this unforgettable story.
5 out of 5 Controllers
Royalty Award For:
- Best Use of Illustrations in a Graphic Novel
- Emotionally Compelling
- Intense Reader Engagement
- Unforgettable Characters
- Best Series Starter
- Satisfying Ending with an Unforeseen Twist
~Way to go Carnal for not only knocking my socks off, but for making me wish other graphic novels could be like you!~
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