My rating: 5 of 5 stars
From the golden foiling on the front cover, to that rich and thick paper used throughout, Arthur and the Golden Rope is an absolutely beautiful book. I was very thrilled to receive a review copy of it from Flying Eye Books. I have been looking for more books like this; mythic adventures, well told, Arthur And the Golden Rope gave me exactly what I was hoping for. It is a fabulous statement of a book.
The book begins with us being welcomed to the Brownstone family vault. The vault is full of treasures but the most treasured is “this humble collection of books”. These books retell the adventures of the Brownstone ancestors, from Eleanor Brownstone’s discovery of the Crystal Kingdom through to Eric Brownstone’s battle with the hundred-headed snake King of Tuckernuck Island. Arthur and The Golden Rope is the story of the first adventurous Brownstone: “Arthur, the unlikeliest of heroes.”
Arthur’s adventure begins in a small Icelandic town and comes to encompass many of the mythic heroes and figures from Norse mythology. Arthur himself is delightful; independent, brave, charming, and he steps up to save his town when all seems lost.
I tweeted some images from this book because it’s an intensely beautiful book. Todd-Stanton’s art is rich; it’s layered and scratchy and thick with detail. It’s big, too, there are some double page spreads here that sing with detail. The library spread in particular is delightful; Arthur is researching and shown in various poses around the library, and every inch of the pages sing of movement and of thought and effort. Arthur opens a book with teeth. He almost falls off a ladder. Swords impale books into the wall. A spell creeps out of a left open book. It is beautiful, and smart work.
Textually, the big thing to note about Arthur And The Golden Rope is the great orality of the tale. It’s broken up into a series of small paragraphs, some a just sentence long, and Todd-Stanton never loses sight of the conceit at the heart of this story. This is a story being told to us; and the pacing is perfect. And I adored that, really, because (and excuse me whilst I get all technical) but such orality speaks back to the great heritage of these stories. Stories of mythic and magic are made to be spoken and orated, and Arthur and The Golden Rope gets that. This is a story to be performed and shared, but it’s also one that is quite able to step back and let the artwork speak when it needs . This is such a clever, balanced, brilliant book.