Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, collects the first six issues of the science fiction thriller series (available October 23, 2012).
It all begins with the birth of a girl called, after a lot of arguing between the parents, Hazel. Hazel is the result of an unholy union, according to the rules of the worlds her parents come from. Alana, her mother, is a native of Landfall, the largest planet in the galaxy. Marko, her father, comes from Wreath, a moon. Her own birth takes place on planet Cleave “an ancient ball of mud circling around a fading old star.”
Hazel is a hybrid of a child if ever there was one. Her father has horns, her mother has wings, she has both. And they are all outcasts from the very moment she comes to life.
Wanted by the authorities of their respective homelands, haunted by their pasts, and hunted by mercenaries who are “the highest bidders in the war of Good Versus Good,” they have to run for their lives, and they do.
The love between Alana and Marko is strong, and the love of their child makes it even stronger, but can they survive this battle against forces far more cunning and superior to theirs? It seems unlikely. They need help, they know they do; but where exactly can they get it? Wherever they look they see enemies—even in their dreams—so is there anyone they can really trust? Marko thinks not and Alana agrees. However, they both understand all too well that they cannot reach their destination without some kind of divine intervention.
As they try to find a safe passage through a land full of danger and deceit, some other people, or rather creatures, face some trouble of their own: a prince needs to prove himself to his lord father by bringing a mission to fruition; a cold-blooded mercenary finds himself preoccupied with a moral dilemma, while a female colleague of his, a sly arthropod of sorts, closes in on her targets.
The action is almost nonstop and the family comes face to face with danger constantly, but it’s exactly these events that bring the couple closer together. Alana is willing to do anything to protect Hazel, kill or, if it comes to that, be killed; Marko, though, hates violence, and he has a very good reason for this:
My reluctance to use force isn’t ideological, it’s practical. Violence is stupid. Even as a last resort, it only ever begets more of the same.
Violence, though, follows their every step. They have to face the military police, as they are both considered traitors by their compatriots, then the mercenaries, and finally the elements of nature, not to mention The Horrors.
Explaining what The Horrors are would be a spoiler, but I think it will be fine to say that when they appear the fantasy element really kicks in. They are supposed to be mythical creatures and they are, but there’s more to them than what the legends say.
Saga is a great story, masterfully drawn and expertly told, that captures the reader’s imagination. And even though it takes place in faraway lands and in the worlds of fantasy, I’d say that it resembles our lives in more than one way, as it talks about things that take place on this planet every day: war, love, memories of past sins or mistakes, hopes for the future, and parenthood. Maybe traveling through these words and images into another universe can help us, in some way, better understand the world around us.
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Lakis Fourouklas has published four novels and three short-story collections in Greek. He’s currently translating his work into English and blogs at Fiction & More. He also keeps a few blogs in Greek regarding general fiction, Japanese literature, and crime fiction. Follow him on Twitter: @lakisf. He lives in the wilderness of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
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