Geis: A game without rules - Book 2 by Alexos Deacon

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Nobrow 2017. ISBN 9781910620274
(Age: Middle school - Senior students) Themes: fantasy, medieval, contest, rules, allegiance, trust. To open this beautifully illustrated graphic novel is to enter a disorientating medieval world of sorcerers, serfs, courtiers and nobles. The endpapers depict a set of a sort of tarot card with titles such as Justice, Death, the Sun, the Tower, and the action in the story seems just as arbitrary as a hand of cards. The characters are confined in a castle where all are compelled to take part in tests. This time the sorceress Niope divides the people into two teams, one dressed in black, the other in white, they are told to play the game but no one knows the rules. The sorceress has servants who are masked, reminiscent of chess pieces who spy on the teams and do her bidding. They give each player a coin and a stick, the white sticks can be used as chalk and the black as charcoal. Some ancient writing appears on the floor which when translated reads As it is written so shall it be. It soon becomes apparent that anyone can announce a game and make the rules then both teams have to play, the winners collecting coins from the losers. The episodes that follow are intermeshed with other power struggles within the castle which take more than one reading to grasp.
The subtle use of colour helps with scene shifts and supernatural effects but there is a large cast and a list of characters with a synopsis of the previous volume would have made it more enjoyable. However, its density will appeal to those looking for a more complex graphic novel with puzzles and paradoxes to keep the reader engaged.
This is the second text, I would recommend reading the first, Geis: A matter of life and death and I am sure middle school students and senior student lovers of fantasy or illustration will be asking for book three, The Will That Shapes the World, coming soon.
Sue Speck