Half-Blood by Hubert Boulard and illustrated by Bertrand Gatignol was one of the more graphic and shocking graphic novels that I’ve read. In a world where giants are the kinds and the nobility of their smaller human counterparts exists in prominent families and the role of Chamberlain for the giant king. In fact, as the role of Chamberlain is so prestigious, the families consistently fight and vie for the position.
The story begins with Yori, a half-blood as he is the illegitimate son of a nobleman and a maid, who though he grows up with his father’s legitimate sons for the purposes of education and because his father loves his mother, he is relentlessly bullied and harmed by the two. After a particularly disturbing and horrible attack from his half-brothers, Yori’s mother takes him away from the affluent home for his safety.
Thus ensues Yori’s eventual personal agenda to enact revenge and bring himself back up to the affluence he truly feels he deserves.
A part of me wishes that I’d realized this was a sequel prior to requesting it, but another part of me is glad that I didn’t because I don’t think I’d have requested this one if I’d known. And more than anything, I’m so glad I had a chance to read this fascinating and intricate story. Especially since I’m not usually one who cares for stories revolving around politics. And it’s definitely on my radar now to check out that first book.
The story was complex, alternating a timeline of present as an older Yori tells his mother the story of his rise to power with the position of Chamberlain and the focus shifts back and forth between his story-telling and the story of his life. The complexity of the world in which they live was fascinating to learn about, especially as it relates to the giants. They almost seem to have a similar role to that of the Greek Gods as their emotional whims adversely affect all the small humans within their realm.
There are a lot of underhanded politics throughout the course of the story, reminiscent for me of those that occur within Game of Thrones, though perhaps a little less involved as the number of participating players is smaller. The novel as a whole is also pretty graphic. I would say, without question, that this book requires some trigger warnings for attempted rape, violence, torture, and gore. As it is a graphic novel, the impact of this can be deeply triggering from a visual standpoint.
With that said, I found the artwork incredible. It’s detailed and realistic and really pulls you into the story. You feel so many emotions for the characters and you feel an especially complex array of them for Yori. I found it utterly fascinating how much my feelings for him changed throughout the course of the novel, from pity and empathy to horror and disgust.
Half-Blood is, without a doubt, one of the more impressive graphic novels I’ve ever come across. I’m excited to see more of this series in the future.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.