Jim Fitzpatrick, |
The Silver Arm
(Paper Tiger, 1981)
Read what I said about Jim Fitzpatrick's earlier book, The Book of Conquests. Everything I said about it, double for The Silver Arm.
Issued only two years later, The Silver Arm greatly expands on an already talented artist's vision. The knotwork bordering every page is more intricate, like something the ancient Celts themselves would have worked in gold to decorate their greatest treasures. The paintings that illustrate the story are more vivid, more colorful, more startling in their depth and contrast. On some pages, the action seems almost alive: the giant stag on page 17 looks ready to run at the slightest provocation, the red fox on page 21 will likely vanish behind the massive dolmen behind it as soon as you blink your eyes.
The story, like before, is drawn from the earliest cycles of Irish mythology. Nuada, the silver-armed warrior, was among the Tuatha de Danann's greatest heroes. Losing his kingship after losing his arm in battle, for the early Irish kings must all be perfect of face and form, Nuada regained his position after replacing the lost limb with a perfect copy made of silver.
Where the first book told of the battles between the lordly Tuatha de Danann and the Fir Bolg, this focuses on a later period, when the Tuatha de Danann, still lords of the land of Eire, faced the fierce Fomor, led by the evil-eyed Balor.
Here we meet some of the greatest names of Irish mythology: Nuada, the Dagda, Ogma, Manannan Mac Lir, Breas the Beautiful, the triple goddess Badb (Macha, Morrigan and Nemain), and the healers Dian-Cecht and Miach.
Fitzpatrick has honed even further his storyteller's craft, and the tale itself is a pleasure to read. Combined with his lush, gorgeous illustrations, it's a book which truly lives up to its own heroic standards.
[ by Tom Knapp ]
Visit Jim Fitzpatrick's website to see more of his artwork.