By Cat Wyatt
Eternal Empire #7 continues the epic journey that Tair and Rion have begun. In the last issue, they finally made it to Nifaali (which I imagine was a huge relief for everybody involved). However, their journey is far from over. They still need to figure out how to stand up against the Empire and take down the Empress. Neither of those tasks sounds simple, especially for two people who have never had any official training (of any sort).
Which is why Jolem is brought in to train our two warriors-to-be. He was once a Crimson Sword but obviously has since defected. His training, and more importantly his knowledge of how their enemies train, will likely prove to be worth his weight in gold. Since he’s been training the people of Nifaali, he’s already gotten plenty of experience with training people who know less than nothing about combat. Still, I imagine he was a bit surprised about Tair and Rion’s lack of skills (most likely he’s confused on how they’ve survived as long as they have).
The other thing that makes Jolem’s two new students different from the rest is fairly obvious; they wield swords of fire, as opposed to those of steel. I would imagine most people would be intimidated by this (theoretically the blades don’t actually have to touch to cause damage – a close enough proximity to fire will do that all on its own). But amazingly Jolem is unafraid of these two youngsters and any (accidental) damage they may cause him. It actually says a lot about his confidence in his own training.
Tair and Rion have a lot of work to do if they ever hope to beat the Empress. Unfortunately that work results in several pages of a training montage, which is somewhat funny, but obviously doesn’t contain much by way of plot.
Thanks to Jolem we did finally learn a bit more about the synnians (they’re the race with the tails, for those unsure). I hadn’t put much thought into their presence in the army, but apparently there’s more going on that one can casually observe. Which sounds about right. Synnians are only allowed to be Crimson Swords; they’re not allowed to be administrators or anything of that sort, and their beliefs won’t allow them to take a workers job. So there’s actually very little option to their kind, which is pretty depressing. It also explains why Jolem defected.
Fortunately from here it looks like the pace of the plot will be picking up again. Our two heroes are aware that the Empress is nearby, and while they probably aren’t ready to take her on, they can’t let this opportunity pass. Likewise the Empress likely knows that they’re close (they seem to share a connection, allowing them to catch brief glimpses, which is likely strengthened by proximity).
This issue felt more like a buildup story than anything else. Yes, we got some important details, but mostly it was setting things up and showing us that the main characters are training and making progress (however limited that progress may be). It was pretty slow on the whole, but as long as it picks up next issue (which I think it will), then on the whole I’m okay with it.
I still adore the artwork of this series. Having Tair and Rion be visual opposites of each other was brilliant, they’re striking but distinct from one another (as are their daraka). One scene stood out to me in particular – the scene with the Empress showing us her back. I love how her dress is cut to allow her wings freedom. Too often we see designs just pretending it isn’t an issue, rather than addressing the practicality of it head on. It’s nice to see that the artist thought this one through.
Eternal Empire #7