Created & Story by: Brandon Sanderson
Written by: Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly
Drawn by: Nathan C. Gooden
Coloured by: Kurt Michael Russell
Lettered by: Andworld Design
Designed by: Tim Daniel
Published by: Vault
Dark One has been described as ‘Harry Potter seen from Voldemort’s point of view’. I feel like that’s giving it a lot of credit.
There’s a version of 21st century Earth and what is referred to as the White Kingdoms.
We meet the Dark One, an upper middle class American teenager named Paul, very early on. And the antagonists/protagonists are also aware of him, but they can’t kill him yet because if they do, the Destined One will not arise, such is the narrative, or indeed The Narrative in this universe.
Paul’s mum is a lawyer, a ‘big deal’ and defending a murderer who you have to assume is connected to this other world in some way.
So we get a juxtaposition of a fantasy world and ‘our’ world, a light/dark dichotomy, and… absolutely nothing of interest. I didn’t care about a single character. None of the ideas are particularly original or interesting despite the apparently promising premise. The outsourced writing is adequate but unexciting. The art feels a bit slapdash, the inking feels unfinished in places, the colours feel like a bad photocopy at times. There are a few decent full-page splashes, but apart from that, it feels like everyone involved has phoned it in. There’s not a lot of love here. I don’t know if it’s trying to be meta. I don’t know if it’s intentionally leaning in hard to fantasy cliches. All | know is that it’s a slog of a read, and I just did not care.
Brandon Sanderson is an acclaimed fantasy author whose work I’ve never gotten around to reading, so I can’t judge this from that perspective. There is the minor complication that he didn’t technically write this, instead going for a ‘created and story by’ credit, so I’m not really sure what to make of that. Who do we hold responsible? Is that the point?
I’d have stopped reading around page 35 if I wasn’t reviewing it. From a minor bit of research, it seems even Sanderson fans were disappointed by this, and I can see why. I was hoping to be impressed but feel a bit cheated out of my time by this slab of mediocrity.
“Why are you being so cryptic?” asks Paul of his possibly imaginary, possibly supernatural sister. “Literally everything about me is cryptic”, she responds in a sentence that says more bout this book than I could ever be bothered to.
“The narrative is served” is a phrase used here and there in this book. The narrative I’ve been served here tastes like a Wetherspoons meal – some people will lap it up, the rest of us long for something fulfilling.