I thought Bloodraven was both beautiful and brutal but the brutality was offset by a sense of power and a surprising love story which was the heart of the story. It was one of my favorite reads of 2010. I purchased Wizard soon after I finished Bloodraven when I learned it was set in the same world but it took me until now to work up the courage to actually read it.
If you’ve read Bloodraven you know it’s not for the faint of heart, particularly the earlier scenes, but Wizard takes things to a new, nearly unbearable, level of disturbing. The first portion of the book is relentlessly graphic and grim. Murder, rape, torture and unspeakable atrocities occur in graphic detail in words and artwork. I can stomach a lot but there was one particular scene when I had to pause to wonder why I was subjecting myself to its continuing depravities. I’m still not quite sure why I kept going. I guess I was hoping to relive some of the magic that made Bloodraven so special for me. The brutality eventually ends and things calm down as an adventure ensues and a small romance starts to bloom out of all of the madness. But I don’t think I’ll ever get those earlier images out of my head.
You’ve been warned. It’s not my fault if you read it anyway.
Wizard starts at the tail end of a bloody battle. Those who died outright had it easy. Ferris isn’t one of them. He is taken captive and abused in the worst ways imaginable. This is the rough part. It’s awful. Because he is pretty and still in relatively unbroken shape, he is then passed along to priests to be used as an offering to their twisted god. The priests inflict further pain on his tortured body. As the final death blow nears, Ferris is saved by the be-horned demon god who proudly sports a mighty jewel encrusted phallus for all the world to see.
The "god" is actually a self-interested wizard and in return for setting Ferris free, he has some demands:
Three things I will ask of you and three things you shall perform for the sake of your honor and your life, no matter the time, the place or the nature if the task. Agreed?
Ferris stared up into glittering gray-blue eyes and felt a shimmer of unease, of some great pool of powers that he could only sense the tip of brewing behind that gaze. Still, anything was better than the fate that awaited him should he remain here, bound to the sacrificial alter.
Thus sacrificing god knows what, god knows when, to god knows who.
This is when the fantasy, adventure and romance kicks in. They head for the forest, get to know each other very intimately and the violence is toned down to a whisper. I enjoyed this change in tone and found a lot of the artwork unintentionally humorous because one of the two were carrying around that valuable, over-sized phallus wherever they went. But just when things were getting interesting the story ends! Boo. I wanted a complete story but this didn’t feel complete to me.