5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel, illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller and Boya Sun, 256 pp, RL 4

The Sand Warrior is the much-anticipated first book in the 5 Worlds graphic novel series which has five creators. Mark Siegel, author and editorial director of my favorite graphic novel publisher, :01Books, and his brother Alexis Siegel head up the writing team with Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun. The Sand Warrior thrusts readers into the realm of the Five Worlds, starting on Mon Domani, the Mother World, a pastel colored, gently curving, planet.

We first meet Oona Lee, a student at the Sand Castle in the capital city of Chrysalis where she is training to be a sand dancer, although she seems to be the clumsiest student there. It is the eve of Beacon Day, which is when Oona's big sister and possibly the best sand dancer ever, disappeared. There is one Beacon on each of the Five Worlds, left there by the ancient Felid Gods for unknown purposes. There is also a legend about the lighting of the long-dark Beacons, a legend that could save the Five Worlds, which are experiencing diminishing resources, like water.

Next we meet An Tzu, a carrot-topped young urchin from the slums of Sao Sablo. An Tzu is sort of a Robin Hood, bringing water to his thirsty neighbors, some of whom are part human, part plant. The blue glove on An Tzu's right hand hides a mysterious illness that seems to be turning him invisible.

Beacon Day just happens to coincide with a much anticipated Starball tournament at the nearby stadium in Chrysalis where Jax Amboy, the Natural Boy, is everyone's favorite. He also finds himself teaming up with Oona and An Tzu when the Starball stadium is attacked. A dangerous, but fortuitous visit to Jax's Uncle Jep gives them clues to the many mysteries that abound in this fast paced graphic novel that leaves our trio headed to Toki, the Cobalt Kingdom that seems to be behind the attacks on Mon Domani.

Being a fan of the work of Mark Siegel both as an author, illustrator and editorial director, I was very excited to get my hands on The Sand Warrior, especially as it has been compared to Avatar: The Last Airbender, a show my whole family loves. I had to read through The Sand Warrior more than once, both to follow the intricacies of the rapid world building and fast pace of the story telling. I found myself wishing, more than once, for a prequel that would set up the story before the moment where The Sand Warrior bursts into non-stop action. The authors and illustrators have created an (or should I say five) amazing world and I would be so happy to spend more time in it. For now, I'll wait until next year when the second book, The Cobalt Prince, comes out!

Source: Purchased & Review Copy
(My review copy didn't show up when promised. Anxious to read this book, I ordered my own copy. They both showed up on the same day!)

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