Growing up on a strict diet of helmeted heroines and woman warriors, I have long had an affinity for female-lead fantasy. So when BOOM! Studios revealed the striking cover and excerpt of A Sparrow’s Roar, an original graphic novel from cartoonist C.R. Chua (Adventure Time Comics) and co-writer Paolo Chikiamco (High Society, Mythspace: Humanity), I knew I had to give it a read.
Per and her older sister Elena are both knights in the land of Esterpike. But while Per is a mere knight-in-training, Elena is a war hero and the revered commander of the most famous soldiers in all the land, the legendary Lions of Esterpike.
When disaster strikes, Per must do the unthinkable and pretend to be her sister in order to travel to the capital and rally the troops against an enemy that only she knows about. It’ll take all her strength, cunning, and a bit of help from her sister’s second-in-command, Amelia, to pull it off, but with the fate of the people in her hands, Per has no choice but to step into Elena’s boots in order to save the kingdom.
A Sparrow’s Roar is all about sisterhood and the bonds associated, whether they are formed by blood or battle. It tackles the concepts of personal identity, feelings of inadequacy and stepping into shoes much larger than one’s own only to learn how to run before you can walk.
This fantasy mini-epic doesn’t take place in a dank dungeon or a leafy mountain pass but in the throes of political imbalance and change. The novel’s fast pace, comedic timing, and deeply human characters keep it from becoming bogged down by longwinded legislative intricacies or the grim reality bearing down on the land of Esterpike, making it an approachable read for anyone who may pick it up.
The characters and setting of A Sparrow’s Roar are instantly relatable and engaging, and while the reader gets a taste of each of the big picture motivations driving events, I found myself wanting to know more about the nuanced and smaller details dotted throughout the story. The greater lore at work is established early on and while some aspects are explored and neatly tied up, others are left tantalizingly in the background.
This is especially true for the dynamics, friendships, and loyalties between the novel’s female characters. Almost every single female-identifying character introduced to us is in a position of political or military power and have their own history with one another, histories that I would gladly read more about after scarfing down this helping.
The art is colorful and charming for a story with such a serious backdrop and is a great reflection of the heart and soul of the story being told. Bright color pallets reflect the mood and tone of each panel, while each character’s emotions are conveyed with such clarity in moments that tug at the heartstrings, elicit a giggle or have you holding your breath.
In the end, A Sparrow’s Roar is a female-lead fantasy with heart, nuance, realistic portrayals of the relationships that it explores, and room to grow if C.R. Chua and Paolo Chikiamco decide to see just how much further their little sparrow, Per, can soar.
A Sparrow’s Roar is available now at your friendly local comic book shop and will be available on October 22, 2019, in bookstores and major online retailers. Digital copies are available wherever comics are sold, including comiXology and the BOOM! Studios app.
DISCLAIMER: This copy of A Sparrow’s Roar by C.R. Chua by Paolo Chikiamco was provided by NetGalley and BOOM! Studios for the purpose of content creation and review. The opinions expressed in the article above have not been affected by, dictated or edited in any way by the provider.