Synopsis: Stilian Desault is one of the most notorious names throughout the realm. Known as Stilian Blackheart, his reputation for schemes and thievery are only diminished by his penchant for backstabbing. On his way to the gallows, Stilian is saved just before the axe falls. The catch is that he must embark on a treacherous quest to obtain something of great value. His reward is a new lease on life, but if he should fail, it will mean certain death. Along the way, Stilian must enlist a band of deadly assassins, former and current enemies, and a maybe magician, to accomplish his twin goals of obtaining the object of great value and survival.
Review: Brigands is a tale that has been told before. The names and locales have changed, but the overall bones of the tale are familiar. However, this can be said about every old school sword and sorcery. The trick to making stories like Brigands interesting is the interpretation of the characters. Take our main protagonist, Stilian Blackheart, for example. His introduction (hell, his nickname alone) tells us that he is untrustworthy, and he will probably betray you before the sun sets on the first day he meets you. Honestly, he doesn’t seem likeable at all, but it is his earnest desire to obtain a pardon that really solidifies our understanding of Stilian. It is through him that we get the underlying theme of the first volume. Redemption.
Motley crews are everywhere in fiction. Why you may ask? It is because motley crews represent different people coming together to accomplish a task that one could not do alone. Star Wars, Power Rangers, and the X-Men are all perfect examples of this concept, and all of them, like Brigands, have a unifying theme. Second chances are the name of the game. This is what has brought these people together. From the man imprisoned because of Blackheart’s lies, to the deadly assassin who hides behind a mask, these people seek freedom from their pasts. Yes, gold is a major factor, but it is a chance to restart and rebuild that makes this story believable. Who doesn’t dream of getting a fresh start when the chips are down?
The art for Brigands is simplistic yet it works. The lines are clean, and the main characters are, for the most part, distinguishable. Action scenes are dynamic and easy to follow. The backgrounds sometimes leave a little to be desired. In a fantasy setting, the locales are just as important to give credence to the world. It needs to feel lived in. On the other hand, there is a sense of frivolity the art conveys, and it is very much in tune.
Brigands is a fun romp. Slowly, it weaves a tale of adventure, intrigue, and hope. Page by page, you get to know these characters. And although you may never want to meet any of them in a back alley, you are happy to have met them as they strive for something more.