Goodreads: The Golden Age
Series: Golden Age #1
Published: 2018, trans. Feb. 2020
On the eve of her coronation, Tilda finds herself imprisoned by her younger brother, who has staged a coup. Now she must escape, flee across the countryside, and attempt to find allies to rally to her cause. But the people are rising because they want democracy. Will Tilda join with the rebels? Or will she continue to fight for her crown?
I initially picked up The Golden Age because the artwork seemed so intriguing. Intricate and almost abstract, it is very different from the more cartoony graphic novels I tend to read. This, paired with a fantasy setting and promised political intrigue, made The Golden Age seem exactly like the type of book I would enjoy. Unfortunately, however, I ultimately found the the storyline lackluster, the characterization vague, and the artwork more confusing than interesting.
Though the publisher compares The Golden Age to Game of Thrones, the story is certainly not capable of living up to this praise. “Political intrigue” makes it sound like our protagonist Tilda must match wits with the court and figure out who is honest and who will betray her. But all we get is a girl who is saved by a loyal friend and who otherwise just races across the countryside, periodically fainting for unexplained reasons, while said friend and his servant repeatedly save her. There are few political machinations beyond that, unless you count the peasants who are sick of being underfed and overworked, and who are now rallying to the cries of a rebel who wants to return them to the legendary Golden Age of human equality. But fantasy stories where the people want to install a democracy in lieu of the monarchy seem rather popular these days, and The Golden Age does nothing to differentiate itself. To compare this book to Game of Thrones seems almost laughable. It does not have one-tenth of the scope.
The characterization does nothing to save the plot. Tilda is extremely uninteresting, doing nothing much to advance her own cause and appearing somewhat arrogant and cranky when she is not simply bland. One has trouble imagining the people wanting to rally to her side, even though she claims she needs to claim power in order to save them. Her friend and his servant are equally bland, which made it difficult even to remember their names. There are other side characters, but no one who stands out.
However, I did first pick up The Golden Age for the artwork and, initially, I had hope that the unique illustration style would be exciting. Fairly quickly, however, I realized that the detailed and abstract nature of the illustrations actually make it incredibly difficult to follow the story. Everything blends together, so telling characters apart proves tricky, let alone figuring out what those characters are supposed to be doing in some of the panels. I appreciate the vision, but it just does not work for a graphic novel.
The Golden Age promises a high fantasy adventure for fans who love complex stories like Game of Thrones, but it fails to deliver. The storyline is simplistic and unoriginal, while the illustration style makes it almost impossible to follow parts of the action. There is a sequel coming out, but I cannot say I intend to read it.