By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Writer Richard A Hamilton can very easily further any fan’s love for DreamWorks Trollhunters. His work in the ongoing book series published by Simon Spotlight expands the world in legendary ways such that readers get to learn more about the history of Trollkind. As the wait for the next chapter in the Tales of Arcadia saga continues and this dedicated fan needs troll food badly, I am glad more tales are being told through the comic book/print medium.
The first graphic novel, “The Felled” is due to hit shelves in mid-October. Here, Hamilton explores the problems of being “boyfriend” material. Ever since Jim and Claire made it official, trying to make their relationship is not going to be easy, and Trollkind’s idea of courtship may well get examined. The history of Trollkind and their mating rituals may well be at the core of this first work. This chapter of the saga is illustrated by Timothy Green II.
In the written front, Four books are available to purchase (with more coming) and I knew I did not want to jump in with book three upon finding them at my local bookstore. The first volume is simply a retelling of “Becoming.” The scenes cut out are restored. The prologue centers in on Kanjigar. He knows his time is up and a new hero is needed. This Trollhunter prior to Jim Lake Jr. was well respected in Troll Market and for him to say his farewells is not without some sniffles. I feel the Knights of the Round Table will one day appear because this take of the Trollhunters saga reflects even more chivalric ideals.
Books always make for great expansion since not every bit of detail in the world Daniel Kraus and Guillermo del Toro created is showcased. Unlike the animation, people do not get to hear what’s going on in the head of these people. Also, Hamilton mentioned in the past (I met him at Emerald City Comic Con 2018) that all ideas do pass by del Toro’s desk and he gives feedback.
The next volume, “Welcome to the Darklands” (and on up) sees the team embark on all new adventures. Taking cues from the ending of season one, Jim Lake Jr. is on his own and is looking for Claire’s baby brother, Enrique. Along the way, he teams up with Rob, a different kind of changeling (he can set himself on fire), and Skarlagk, daughter of Orlagk. She needs allies in her war with Gunmar and her story moves in parallel to Jim’s. To fight alone makes overcoming adversity all the more difficult, and true to form, the series is all about how teamwork makes all the difference in a war.
Meanwhile, back at Arcadia, Claire, Toby, Blinky, Dunmar and Aarghaumont search for a means to explain Jim’s disappearance. They have an undersea adventure to acquire an ancient artefact known as a Glamour Mask to assist. Back on the flip side, the Trollhunter’s trial by fire is literally that! The only downside is with the insert graphics. They are from the series. Nothing new is computer rendered to visualize the story at hand. The undersea landscape is softly described and to offer a visual aid to younger readers can benefit.
“The Book of Ga-Huel,” volume 3, takes place after Jim’s rescue from the Darklands. It reminds readers Jim spent two weeks there. A new character, Elle Stemhower is introduced and her role only lasts for the book than the series. The tale moves like a Scooby-Doo mystery and sets up a new aspect of this saga, where the heroes get to time travel of sorts. It’s done either through flashbacks or with the help of Claire and that staff she now holds. This volume stands out as globe-trotting as the trolls were everywhere, including protecting the Ancient Roman and Mayan world. They are revealed as flashbacks when Jim seeks answers to who once protected this tome. When the life of Binky is threatened, the team have to prevent destiny from happening.
The only hope is to find out who has the book of destiny. Hamilton’s prose is vivid and they are easy to imagine. Not only is each volume an easy three to four-hour read, but they also follow the same tempo as an animated episode. I suspect two or three episodes would be needed without compromising the plot. The primary reason why these novellas are out is to offer further develop the mythos that would otherwise detract from the animated series central plot.
In volume four, “Age of the Amulet,” the Trollhunters accidentally journey back in time. Yes, this sci-fi cliche has been used to death in many a television show, and I accept it. To see the team in The Dark Ages allowed them to go meet Tellad-Urr and Gogun, two former Trollhunters. They are not as history depicted them and it is up to Jim to correct things. This adventure breaks from the norm and hints at a possibly larger connection to Arthurian lore. This story takes place in the backdrop of Glastonbury Tor and the legend of his return is not as well taken advantage of. Perhaps, that’s not to detract from the series when Merlin has yet to make his physical presence known.
As for Season three’s primary protagonist, she gets a ghostly cameo without having her name ever mentioned.
Two more books are coming in the Winter, “Angor Reborn” and “The Way of the Wizard,” to round out the adventure. They were scheduled for Autumn release, and no reason was publicized to the shift. Perhaps the saga is not over yet and revisions are required to tie-in the material to The Tales of Arcadia. While the animated series made it clear that this part of the journey is over (especially with the passing of the original voice actor of Jim Lake Jr.), at least what’s to still explore is definitely continuing in print media.