The Lone and Level Sands – A. David Lewis, mpMann and Jennifer Rodgers – 160 pages
“Pharaoh Ramses II hasn’t seen his long-lost cousin Moses in nearly forty years. Yet while pressed by the Hittites to the North and construction delays in the South, Ramses must make time for this ancient desert rascal, the long-ago mystery he represents, and the impossible demands of an alien deity. Drawing on the Bible, the Qur’an, and historical sources, writer A. David Lewis (Mortal Coils) and artist Marvin Perry Mann (Arcana Jayne) present a retelling of the Book of Exodus through the eyes of the man who is either its greatest leader or its worst villain: a man trying to rule wisely, love his family well, and deal justly in the face of a divine wrath.” – taken from the publisher’s website.
The Lone and Level Sands is an odd but well-woven mix of extrapolation, Biblical storytelling, and murky ancient history. I’m not entirely sure how much of the story of Moses, or at least of Ramses II, is actually historical, but I’m sure that anything documented somehow wound up in this graphic novel. You’ve got an intriguing political story set alongside the more familiar spiritual one, and it’s a perspective I don’t think I’ve quite seen before. Clearly it’s all reminiscent to me of The Prince of Egypt, because I love that movie and have seen it a million times, and the basic story is the same. You take less license with appearance, which I appreciated–though it’s cool to see Moses as a heroic young man, it’s probably more accurate to portray him in the aged way you do, and it changes the dynamic between Moses and Ramses dramatically. I also enjoyed the focus on Ramses’ family, his relationship with Nefertari and with his son made the whole thing more emotionally gripping.
I agree with what a reviewer quoted on the publisher’s website said, in that this is an “intelligent book.” I think, though, that it’s a little dense–both in plot, which might have been easier to follow if taken at a slower pace, and in art, which was interestingly stylized but difficult to “read” in such volume and in a relatively small size. That said, you’ve done something really interesting here, and I found it enlightening though not completely engrossing. Four stars!
Books this year: 90
Pages this year: 17,253