Thursday, October 22, 2009

Apothecarius Argentum, vol. 2

The story: Argent, the royal apothecary, now has an apprentice -- sort of. Soda, who was wowed by Argent's skill and knowledge, would love to be his apprentice, but Argent's wary of taking the young boy under his wing since he's not a member of the guild. After experiencing another setback, Primula heads to the countryside to learn more about the country she will eventually rule, while Argent sets out to find her. Unfortunately, the area is experiencing hardship because someone is stopping the aid that the king sends. Once Primula arrives, another plot to dethrone the king is discovered. What will become of Primula and will Argent be able to save her in time?

Reaction: There's more political intrigue in this volume and, via flashbacks, we learn a great deal more about Argent's and Primula's relationship. I really liked the addition of Soda as the narrator in the beginning -- he's a sweet boy, if a bit silly. But, what I enjoyed the most was the character growth shown by Primula. She's given some heavier burdens to bear in this volume and she becomes a better person and future ruler because of it. Her commitment to her people and to those she cares about is admirable, while helping her shed her former selfishness.

Deep thoughts: One heartbreaking story alludes to a homicide turned euthanasia, bringing up the hard decision of one's right to life. While some argue that people should be able to commit suicide in light of degenerative or terminal illnesses, others believe in the sanctity of life. How it's dealt with here is well done, considering the emotional hardship involved. The tone is just right and the repercussions are appropriate when all factors are taken into account.

Artwork: The artwork here seems more competent somehow, with a better composition overall and a seeming sense of permanency. The story didn't feel as fleeting in this volume, possibly due to the many flashbacks. I really liked the scenes including a young Primula and Argent, especially since they don't look as humorous or silly as Soda. While they're younger versions of themselves, the depictions of younger pair still holds fast to their base characteristics -- Primula is a cute and caring princess, while Argent is more the strong and silent type.

The verdict: Highly recommended. This volume examines the tough reality of war and its aftermath, as well as the history between Primula and Argent. All in all, we're shown the backstory of their friendship-cum-romance, and it's quite the endearing story. Apothecarius Argentum is available in the U.S. from CMX.

Review copy provided by CMX.

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