Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.
There is so much to love about the Princeless comics, and this volume in the collections give us stories featuring Adrienne’s sisters and the goblins. The sisters each get one story (though the twins have to share) and one story for the goblins. The goblin story is the most direct comment on modern politics in the book – it is hard not to see Trump and Hilary on the stage. The story will play on a different level for adult readers than younger readers. The goblin story also brings back the Goblin Captain who aided Adrienne and Belinda.
But the main focus of the collection are the Ashe citizens, and while the art, to my mind, isn’t as good as the artwork in some of the other volumes (hence a 3.5 star rating instead of a 4), it was wonderful that the other Ashe sisters got a chance to shine as while as moving the story slightly forward to the coming conflict that was set up at the end of volume 7.
The first story features Alize and her Sphinx. It is set in the past, so how Alize formed her community and met her husband is addressed. Then Angelica learns that she is more than just a pretty face by playing a game that looks familiar. Angoisse learns that she doesn’t need a man, but just a focus. The goblin story follows Angoisse’s story (which makes sense). Then finally, the twins appear as they struggle to put aside sniping at each other long enough to help people. In many of the stories, the Black Knight makes an appearance, tying the stories together in another way as well as pointing towards the future of the series. Even in Angoisse’s tale where the Black Knight does not show up, there are hints that her adventure is connected to the larger issues playing out in the series.
The particular strength of this volume is the different ways in which the princesses learn and become more secure in who they are. Adrienne, who stars in the other volumes, is physically strong - she is not dumb – but her talent lies in the physical. Here, in these stories, we have sisters whose talents are not the physical but that rest on a different type of learning. Alize learns from books (and other teachers), the twins studied magic, Angoisse learns by studying human behavior, and Angelica by watching. While the sisters who were more immature, gain more maturity in these stories, they don’t lose their essential selves. Angelica might become more than a pretty face, but she also still loves fashion. The great thing about Princeless is that strength is being shown in so many different ways, not just in terms of Adrienne and Devan, but, now, more fully in terms of each sister. This putting worth on talents other than simply physical or looking beautiful is wonderful.
The stories do feature humor. The two funniest are Angoisse’s and Angelica’s. Angelica’s story has some great descriptive phrases, and Angoisse’s makes excellent use of the Squint Spiderslayer and the Grimmorax. The best line comes from the Grimmorax who asks Angoisse, “Are you telling me you want to be weaker so you can find a man who can protect?” And when Angoisse answers in the affirmative replies, “Do you need me to explain how stupid that sounds?”. In some ways, Angoisse’s story is the most powerful because she learns the value of herself. The weakest story, maybe because it is trying too hard for laughs, is the story of the twins, though that makes excellent use of the magical knowledge. Additionally, weak is a relative term for this collection.
Can’t wait to see what happens next.