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Archlord Vol. #01 Manhwa Review

4 min read

Good artwork battles against a story that isn’t quite sure if it wants to be a drama or comedy.

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Jin-Hwan Park
Translation/Adaptation: Jennifer Hahm, Nathan Johnson

What They Say

In this classic tale of a hero who must fulfill his destiny, a father takes his newborn son on a journey to be named. But when fortune and loyalty give way to betrayal and greed, it’s up to an unlikely champion and one remarkable sword to restore honor and balance to the land!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Based on a video game, Archlord is a world full of swords, magic, goblins, orcs, wyverns, and noums. Yes, noums, or gnomes for us English-speaking fantasy fans. This volume starts with a rather unnecessary history of the world, just too much exposition. Once the story gets going we find Sir Leon, wielder of the magical sword Brumhart, beginning a journey with his baby son and second-in-command Ernan. Sir Leon’s son is finally old enough to attend his naming ceremony, but unfortunately, betrayal is in the air.

Desperate to gain Brumhart’s power and Sir Leon’s title, Ernan betrays his lord by sending a group of thugs to attack them. Sir Leon eventually loses the battle, his sword, and his son. But Ernan discovers the hard way that only one of Sir Leon’s bloodline can draw Brumhart from its sheath.

Sixteen years later, the young and attractive sorceress Arin enters the forest to seek out Father Kenneth and his help in dealing with the now ‘Sir’ Ernan. Along the way, she stumbles into Zian, the half-orc Ugdrasil, and a heavily comedic tone. For all the seriousness of this tale, a small amount of SD and a lot of goofball antihero antics ensue whenever Zian is involved. For as much of dork Zian seems to be, Ugdrasil and Arin both hint at having some depth to their characters. Arin is not only interesting because of her leather thigh highs, but also because of her personality. She puts up a very lady-like exterior, but Zian always finds a way to shatter the front she puts up, usually with a humorous outburst on her part. Then the ass-kicking Father Kenneth eventually makes his appearance but refuses to help Arin in any way other than telling her to seek out the prophet Berouze in a place called Elka.

But wait, what about the noums? Sir Ernan decides to pay the noums a visit since they crafted the sheath that binds the sword Brumhart. The noum chief doesn’t want to cooperate, but he also doesnâ’t want to watch his people slaughtered so he takes Sir Ernan deep into the noum volcano to let the soul of Brumhart’s original owner decide how to deal with Sir Ernan. There are a couple of ways this could work out and I’m not going to tell you what happens, but let’s just say it surprised me.

In Summary:
“Based on the Hit Video Game!” Yes, you have my permission to cringe. No, this story isn’t that bad, it’s actually mildly interesting once you get past the horribly unnecessary text-heavy prologue and the dramatic first half of the story. Both the first and second half of this book aren’t bad by themselves, but together they contrast each other too much. I felt reading half a seriously dramatic book that switches to a heavily comedic second half to be rather jarring. Give me one or the other. However, by the time I reached the end of this volume, I found myself enjoying Zian’s half-assed attempt at being a hero. It is a nice contrast between the cowardly antihero and the morally inept antihero.

I am unfamiliar with the game this book is based on, so I cannot comment on how similar the two are. However, the art in Archlord is good and despite my complaint of the rough start for this series, I’ll probably still pick up volume two so I can see what the evil Sir Ernan’s next move will be. I’m also curious to see how, and if, Zian changes from a smartass goofball to a magical sword-wielding hero.

Content Grade: B-
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Release Date: February 2007
MSRP: $9.99

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