A slow prolog that mixes world building with a budding romance in a practical fantasy world
Writer/Artist: Gyojeong Kwon
Translation: Soyoung Jung
Adaptation: Soyoung Jung
What They Say
In a medieval kingdom, within a fantasy universe completely unlike our own, they tell the legend of two adventure-loving boys from the countryside who set out on an epic quest to slay a powerful and fearsome dragon that threatened their world. The Tale of the Feramores elaborates the origins of the two heroes Det and Osen as they begin their journey, finding romance and battling their way to glory.
“The Adventures of Young Det” has a slightly shorter trim size than most books on the store shelves. The cover features an oddly distant portrait of Heda, which is against a stark white background. It’s framed in a sketchy black border with the title in a scratchy looking font. It’s a really strange cover design and it doesn’t sell the book well at all. The back cover has a large color illustration and a write up which speaks more of future volumes than the book itself.
The black ink is as solid as it can be on the average-quality paper of the book. The rest of the lines are crisp and the tone is reproduced well. The art style features lanky characters with pointed chins and thin line work. Some of the older characters appear awkward but there is a nice variation in facial structures to set characters apart. The backgrounds are a fifty-fifty mix between tone patterns and setting details. There’s an austerity to the artwork that makes it seem emptier than it actually is, with clothing designs staying close to a true medieval style rather than showy fantasy designs.
The story reads smoothly, with no noticeable errors or anachronistic terms. There is a lot of fantasy terminology, which is explained throughout and in the glossary. Sound effects are rare, but when they appear they are retouched into English. The back of the book features a glossary expanding on the details of the mythology of the story and map of the world.
Looking outside high-fantasy manga and comic books led me to the manhwa title “The Adventures of Young Det.” In something of a bait-and-switch, the titular character isn’t even present in this first book, which sets up the longer narrative in a prolog that introduces a young sorcerer and seer to explain the mechanics of their world and show how future events are set in motion.
Lazarus is a young man sent on an errand as an ambassador for his clan after his father passes away. He is overly confident and brash, something of a hot shot who excels at the dark magic in which his clan specializes. At a meeting of clans, the other leaders ponder what can be done to avert a crisis. The half-human, half-Gaderin seer has prophesized a frightening future in which a giant dragon of darkness will envelope the continent on which they all live.
Lazarus would rather discuss his clan’s allotment of a magical substance called freya. He doesn’t think very highly of the Gaderins, a race of giant humans who can foretell the future. His opinion begins to change when he meets the Ferat, the leader of the Feramore clan of Gaderins. Her own magical power is superior to Lazarus’ and his desire to learn her light magic leads him to make a deal with her. They will train each other in their own magic disciplines, which gives Lazarus access to the freya he needs for his magic, and offers Ferat a chance to discover why Lazarus was in her vision of the future.
There’s an overall sense that some great tragedy is about to befall these characters. Lazarus seems overly ambitious, even though he matures in his magic and behavior while studying with the Ferat. Other Feramore seers continue to have visions of a future from which they are missing. Another sorcerer arrives toward the end of the volume and puts doubt in Lazarus’ mind about the future and whether it’s predetermined or can be changed. He also stirs a bit of jealousy in Lazarus, as it becomes apparent he’s starting to have more than just a magical interest in the Ferat.
Lazarus, for all his youthful ambition, doesn’t come across as obnoxious. Heda, the Ferat, is also surprisingly interesting. She’s calm and collected at all times, but troubled by her visions of the future and the overwhelming sense of sorrow she feels in them. Large portions of the book focus on the two sorcerers, as they discuss magic and magic levels, and it slows the story down. It can also become confusing. Hopefully, this isn’t wasted time and some of this information will prove important later in the story.
“The Adventures of Young Det” starts on a truly strange note, coming right out and saying that the story is going to be about the characters on which this volume focuses. It really does seem as if the future is set in stone, that these two young magicians are not going to have a happily ever after. In a story so focused on fate and destiny, it’s hard to really complain. It sketches a well thought out fantasy world, and the glossary is a welcome addition, to further explain the universe of the tale. The art is oddly down to earth and not spectacular in any way. It’s a refreshing change of pace for fantasy readers, and it’ll be interesting to see where the story leads.