The problem with reading an advance review copy of a graphic novel is that you can never be quite sure if what you're looking at on your tablet is what you would see had you bought the comic in print form. In this case, the drawings were poor and the colors muddy and posterized, as if they had been de-rezzed for the ARC. This made for a comic which was more appalling than appealing, but I decided to give this the benefit of the doubt and read on. For me the story is what matters most, even in a comic. Unfortunately the story, which began with a great potential to draw me in, failed to keep stirring my interest as it progressed.
The drawing also lacked good dynamics, as it happens. The character portrayals looked wooden and decidedly odd in many frames, notably the ones where the characters were moving. The frames themselves were deliberately skewed - no square corners anywhere. Sometimes this can work well, but in this case it felt like it had been done not because it suited the presentation for the page, but because the creators of the comic thought it looked super cool or something! That's never a good idea.
The weak presentation was owned-up to on many pages because we had little arrows showing us where to read next instead of being able to determine that from a soundly-designed page. To me, this was just annoying. The skewing and sharp angles worked against the idea of a culture which magically controlled the silky, snaking flow of sand. Some images were purposefully sliced through with a frame border even when it wasn't entirely necessary to split the image. This felt amateur and pretentious to me. On the other side of this coin there was some unintentional humor, such as on the bottom frame of page 139, where an unfortunate juxtaposition of characters made it look like the sand master was feeling-up his friend! LOL!/p>
The story began an a fairly engaging manner despite some grammatical gaffs, such as when one character said, "This council may do as we please" as opposed to "This council may do as it pleases," but on the other hand, this was a character's speech, so perhaps the character just had bad grammar?! Anyway, I was drawn into the story to begin with, but a lot of it made no sense. It's set on a planet called Taldain, which appears not to rotate, since one side appears always to have sunlight, whereas the other, known as "Darkside" evidently has none.
I can't imagine a planet like this being habitable, since the one side would be baked to a crisp and the other frozen. Perhaps an existence might be eked out on the dusk/dawn border between the two extremes, but this wasn't what happened here. There was no logic to the character's skin colors, either. The people who were apparently never exposed to sunlight, coming from the dark side, were inexplicably dark skinned, whereas the pale faces came from the perennially sunlit side. This made no sense!
The pale skinned people we meet first are supposedly "Sand Masters" pretentiously referred to as "mastrells" for reasons I could not fathom. This same pretension was employed by using made-up words for some things, yet not for others. These made-up words necessitated an asterisk and a common English word at the bottom of the frame. This struck me as idiotic. Just call it a water bottle for goodness sakes! The sand masters are supposed to be able to make sand do their bidding, but how this came to be and to what end it was manipulated was entirely unexplained. All I ever saw it used for was as a weapon and as a means to avoid climbing stairs. It had the potential to be something awesome, but it was a fail for me because it seemed so pointlessly squandered.
Note that this is a part of Brandon Sanderson's "Cosmere" universe, with which I am completely unfamiliar. Perhaps if I were, I would have had more out of this story, but given that I am not, a little help from the writers would have been appreciated. It was not forthcoming. I routinely skip prologs and introductions, but I went back this time and read the introduction, and it failed to shed even a photon of useful light, being more of a rambling self-promotion than a candle in the Darkside.
That just goes to prove my case that prologs, prefaces, introductions, and so on are a complete waste of my reading time. Anyway, when the sand masters are all-but wiped-out by some barbaric tribe, this one son of the master mastrell is one of the few survivors. He thinks he can be the new lord because he's the son of the old one (good luck with that!), even though he has had no proper training and history for such a position. He throws his lot in with the Darksiders who are traveling the light side for reasons which were as a muddy as the art work. I can't recommend this comic at all.