A Story-weaving, Soul-searching Saga to Warm the Imagination
“Let me tell you about the Land of Nord”
The blurb on the back wonders if Isabel Greenberg’s Encyclopedia of Early Earth is the best thing since sliced bread, maybe even bread knives. Though certainly a tough act to live up to, after reading this delightful graphic novel, any doubts about it not reaching expectations are gladly tossed aside.
If ever a book made you want to curl up with a hot chocolate in front of a fire, this would be it. This is a tale of vengeful gods, warring tribes, kooky customs and daring soul-searching. Following the tale of a Nord man storyteller and his trusty hound on a quest to find the lost piece of his soul, readers encounter a variety of characters along his adventure, some recurring, some one-off, who each contribute a tale of their own to the narrative. Greenberg’s book is an encyclopaedia of stories and storytelling…actually, more like story-weaving. Each fascinating vignette, from a two-page spread to significantly more, offers a compelling and imaginative extension to the Nord man’s saga.
The book, though warming to your readerly core, also explores the reaches of loneliness and the human search for connection, in worlds of ice, woodland, and industrial kingdoms, which resonate with any readers who’ve experienced the same pangs of isolation, or been caught up in the magical power of fiction. We begin our adventure into Greenberg’s world with ‘Love in a Very Cold Climate’ – introducing the story of the Nord man and South Pole woman who meet, fall in love, and very quickly realise a mysterious magnetic force is stopping them from getting further than a few feet from each other. From this point in the life and love story of the Nord man, we journey back in his timeline along the various voyages leading him to this point, as well as interspersing his narrative with mythological detours from the deities and personal stories of heroism, such as the old lady who kills a giant with a poisoned sausage.
As you may have already guessed, Greenberg’s book is full to the brim with quirky and darkly comic humour, which appositely suits the fairy tale quality of the story, from the divine Birdman and his two raven children, to the battle-loving Dag clan of Britanitarka.
Educated as an illustrator, Greenberg is an award-winning young artist who has a distinctive visual style, reminiscent somewhat of Kate Beaton’s wonderful Hark! A Vagrant. The work in Early Earth is beautifully rich, yet remains heavily reliant on simple colour work, notably black and white, which is used exclusively for any scenes at the Birdman’s abode and works to emphasise light and shadow, meaning that any introduction of red, blue and yellow, though simple, adds extra dimension to the already captivating narrative.
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth will ignite and warm the imagination for the autumn/winter months ahead and make you wish that you could be half as creative as the talented Isabel Greenberg: a gorgeous addition to your bookshelf and to your life.
The novel is released on 3rd October but you can pre-order your copy now!