Review: Amulet Book Four: The Last Council

Admittedly, I have no read the other books in Kazi Kibuishi‘s Amulet series (well, I haven’t read them yet. It hasn’t been due to a lack of interest as it is due to “too many other comics and not enough time”), Amulet Book Four: The Last Council (Scholastic, 2011) has me hooked.

Despite having little familiarity with the story, it felt very easy to pick up the plot. Kibuishi doesn’t spend much time explaining things, but the characters and motivations are instantly clear through the strength of his storytelling. It’s perfectly fine being thrown right into the action — the story moves so quickly there’s not much time to be lost.

Kibuishi’s simple, strong lines for his characters give them a distinctive and clear charm. He draws their emotions plainly on their faces and communicates as much through composition and wordless panels as he does through dialogue. There’s a real sense of movement in these pages, and his experiences as an animator definitely give this book a cinematic quality. Large, scene-setting shots of cities or landscapes are given weight, as are close-ups on our lead characters. Color adds to the effect — strong blues provide watery shadows as our lead Emily makes her escape from peril and warm gold tones fill the outside spaces of Cielis.

While it’s a story about a world in peril with many international conspiracies, it’s also clearly a story about a girl discovering who she is. I love the strength of Emily’s relationship with her family and her bravery despite the odds she faces and the doubt she has about what she’s doing. Although I’ve only seen her in action in this book, I admire her progress and I think I’ll enjoy where she’ll end up.

The sci-fi-meets-fantasy setting is beautiful and evokes everything from Star Wars to various role-playing games. There are space ships but there’s also elves. The everything-goes aesthetic gives Kibuishi plenty of room to play — characters are everyone from the fox-faced Leon to a couple of robots (one of which looks a lot like a toy rabbit). It always feels fresh and fun and nothing feels out of place. Rather, the openness of this world gives the book its strength. The complexity and completeness of Kibuishi’s world makes it feel lived-in and familiar.

Clearly, I’m going to go read the other three parts and eagerly await the fifth. I need to know what happened before, yes, but I absolutely need to know what happens next.

So here’s the fun part.

Scholastic Inc. is offering five copies of Amulet Book Four: The Last Council (prize is valued is $10.99 per book) for me to give away. I am going to make this easy. You can watch the book’s trailer below (which is awesome and will make wish they would make a beautiful animated big-screen version of these books), read the synopsis and tell me why you want to read this book in the comments. Or just leave a fairly relevant comment. (Please leave a valid email address so I can contact you.) On Sunday evening (Sept. 25, 9 p.m. EDT), I will pick five winners at random (if more than five people comment) and let you know.

Come on, it’s a chance at a free book! What do you have to lose?

Kazu Kibuishi’s thrilling, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling series continues!

Emily and her friends think they’ll find the help they need in Cielis, but something isn’t right. Streets that were once busy are deserted, and the townspeople who are left live in fear. Emily is soon escorted to the Academy, where she’s expected to compete for a spot on the Guardian Coucil, a group of the most powerful Stonekeepers. But as the number of competitors gets smaller and smaller, an awful secret is slowly uncovered – a secret that, if left buried, means the certain destruction of everything Emily fights for.

Speaking of Sunday, Kazu Kibuishi will be at the National Book Festival on the National Mall. He’ll be speaking at 1:55 p.m. and signing books from 4 to 5 p.m. I will be there, at the very least, for his talk. There’s also some other interesting comics/graphic novel-related programming on Sunday that I will likely stick around for.

Review copy provided by Scholastic.

12 comments

  1. Marty says:

    I want to read Amulet vol. 4 because Kazu Kibuishi’s art is jawdroppingly beautiful, and Vol. 4 has his art looking better than ever!

  2. Carolyn says:

    I am interested in checking Amulet out for the backgrounds and settings of the world. I am looking to add more of that to my work, so it would be a great study. Thanks for the review!

  3. Faith says:

    I really enjoyed the first two books in the Amulet series. I very much like that Kabushi is continuing the Bone tradition of having these strong female characters in a heroic fantasy setting … love it! Plus the art is just gorgeous.

  4. Randy says:

    I’ll throw my hat in the ring here. I’ve seen these books nominated for awards numerous times but have never read them, so I’m very curious as to why they garnered such positive attention in an awfully broad field and category!

  5. Joe Mochove says:

    I have never read any of the Amulet volumes but I only hear great things about them. I think a snazzy free copy would be JUST THE THING to get me in the door.

  6. ed says:

    I’m in!
    I love Kazu’s work, and he’s a great guy. He brings wonder and whimsy to his work, and especially when he was at the helm of Flight. His finely-crafted work is welcome on my shelf, and This one is sadly absent.

  7. Scott Conner says:

    The trailer looks quite good; a great tool for getting people interested. I rather like flying cities, houses that turn into robots, and flying machines!

  8. Rusty says:

    I love the Amulet series. Sad that I’ll be out of town this weekend and miss Kazu at the Book Festival.

  9. Tracy says:

    I love free stuff, especially if it’s beautiful artwork and a compelling, iconic story. Really would like to see it as a feature film, also!

  10. comicsgirl says:

    The winners have been notified via email, but I’ll also announce them here:

    Rusty
    Scott
    Randy
    Faith
    Marty

    They were selected through a random drawing.

    If for some reason one of them no longer wants a copy, I’ll pick another name.

    Thanks for participating, everyone!

  11. Dylan says:

    I liked the Amulet series a lot with nice artwork and a fast paced action plot. I’m going to the bookstore as soon as i’m free enough to get it.

    Kazu Kibuishi = Awesome!!!!

  12. Randy says:

    This was a great book! Thanks so much! It took a few pages for me to grok the scenario since I hadn’t read the previous 3 volumes (which I will now seek out — the marketing ploy has worked!), but it clicked soon enough and the story, dialogue, and artwork were all really enjoyable. Kazu’s colorists really do him some favors in making some of his full-page illustrations describing the world he’s created really pop.

    The great thing about this one is I can actually have the kids read it now that I’m done.

    Thanks again, Eden!

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