Review: Rex Mundi: the Valley At the End of the World

Up until now I had been a big fan of Rex Mundi, a great, well researched, alternate history/fantasy that reads like what everyone wishes the Da Vinci Code had been.  But the penultimate volume is just a huge mess of a book.

Okay where to start.  How about the fact that there are now vampires randomly introduced into the story’s third act and which have nothing to do with the main plot.  Then there’s the culmination of the war which has been building up through the 4 prior collections.  At the end of chapter 2 in this book France is on the verge of defeat, with Paris sacked and its allies abandoning the nation.  When chapter 3 starts France has magically conquered most of Europe.  

Which brings me to the use of magic in these books.  Magic has always been a part of this series, but up until now most of the characters only ever used it to light cigarettes.  Now there are suddenly mystical duels with fireballs and flying and of course those pesky vampires.  

There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this approach to the story, but I sort of felt like it along with the stylistic change brought about by new artist Juan Ferreyra changed the tone of the story far too much.  Eric J’s art from the earlier volumes was rougher and full of deep shadows.  Ferreyra’s on the other hand is a little more detailed and…well lets just go with prettier.  It’s gorgeous work, but I just don’t feel it suits the material terribly well.

So yeah, this is pretty much a textbook case of a good book turning bad.  There’s one volume to go and Arvid Nelson may be able to salvage things with it, but right now Rex Mundi is really becoming a disappointment to me.

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