Northwest Passage


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Gr 10 Up-Collected here are the previously published first three volumes of the highly regarded "Northwest Passage" series and 28 pages of notes by the author. Set in 1755 in Rupert's Land (the vast territory that drains into the Hudson Bay), the series is a classic adventure story with an oversize hero and a villain as deceitful and onerous as any. Englishman Charles Lord puts aside his personal dream of finding the Northwest Passage and attends to the rearing of his son and to the wishes of the Hudson Bay Company. Pitted against Lord is the evil French mercenary and ruthless opportunist Guerin Montglave. With clever treachery, Montglave captures Lord's trading post, Fort Newcastle, driving him and a small band of his men into the wilderness. Enlisting the support of some old and extremely resourceful friends, Lord plots his revenge. Chantler fully develops numerous secondary characters and subplots, and takes great care in establishing historical accuracy. Importantly, he makes clear that the prize (for most) is the wealth to be gained from the fur trade, and how this affected the conflicts and collusions among the English, the French, the mercenaries (or varying nationalities), and the various Native peoples. The artwork is forceful and fluid, economically advancing the story. The dialogue is equally sharp and dramatic. What sets this volume apart, however, are the notes. Chantler sheds light on the multilayered process of creating a historical graphic novel, discussing crucial plot decisions, layout concerns, character development, research efforts, and numerous other problems and solutions.-Robert Saunderson, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

While being hyped as the greatest Canadian western comic book ever may sound like faint praise indeed, in the case of Chantler's thrilling historical adventure, it definitely is not. Categorized as young adult historical fiction, the book is a James Fenimore Cooper-styled thriller set in remote Rupert's Land, circa 1755. Fort Newcastle, an English-run trading post commanded by the stout-hearted hero Charles Lord, is overrun in a vicious sneak attack by French mercenaries looking to get rich off the fur trade. Lord and the survivors of the massacre wander the wilderness, looking for allies and plotting their revenge, while inside the captured fort, the villainous Guerin Montglave plots evil deeds. Chantler's sharp black and white artwork (replete with dramatic closeups and muscular action choreography) has a welcome precision to it, while the writing has a pulp immediacy (" `T'ought you could 'ide, English dog?' ") which brings history to life. This collected edition of the three-issue original comes with copious and welcome annotations at the back, where Chantler discusses various plot points and historical references as well as the different styles used from one frame to the next (including one he calls his "Frank Miller shot"). (June) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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