237. Prince of Persia: Before the Sandstorm by Jordan Mechner

Prince of Persia: Before the Sandstorm, A Graphic Novel Anthology by Jordan Mechner (Canada) - (USA)

Pages: 127
Ages: 13+
Finished: Nov. 2, 2010
First Published: Apr. 13, 2010
Publisher: Disney Press
Genre: graphic novel, YA, adventure
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Our city was smaller in those days..

Acquired: Borrowed a copy from the Calgary library while on vacation.

Reason for Reading: This is a Cybils '10 nominee and required reading for me as a graphic novels panelist.

I have not played the Prince of Persia game nor have I seen the movie yet. Therefore, I am coming at this book with no background knowledge of the story. Basically an anthology in reverse, where the book is written by one person but illustrated by many different artists. The art is never dramatically different story to story but taking a look at the book as a whole the styles do range from Disney-ish to very realistic.

The plot centers on five crooks who have been apprehended because they were caught with a king's ransom in gold. They come up with an imaginative story as to why they have the precious items including that Prince Dastan gave it to them, the two leaders of the group. They are not believed and 3 are sentenced to flogging while the 2 leaders are to be beheaded. Now each one in turn tries to save his life or skin by telling a tale as to why the men should be believed, each story briefly connects them with Prince Dastan. Between each story there is a segue back at the governor's palace where he denounces the tale as folly and the next person steps forward with their tale.

I really enjoyed these five Persian tales which are very reminiscent of tales from the Arabian Nights, though with much less magic. But the similarity is obvious, even to the point that one character at the end compares their stories to tales heard from his grandmother. Each tale is full of adventure, entrapment, and escape, while some have a mythical or magical element the comparison can definitely also be made to Indiana Jones plot devices. Prince Datsun is only very briefly present in the stories as these are set before he became the Prince of Persia. None of the characters have a clue he is the prince at the time of their adventure but realize so now in hindsight.

For age appropriateness I agree with the publishers recommended 13+. Some parents may want to raise that bar a little, though. The book contains lots of violence and blood though nothing of a graphic nature is shown. We see the sword slashes, rocks heaved, etc and then the next frame shows lots of blood. There are also plenty of scantily clad women and either suggestive or obviously s*xual situations, though again nothing graphic is shown. We see kissing, men with no shirts and bodies pressed together.

If you are a big Prince of Persia fan you may be disappointed to find the prince plays little part in these stories, however there is no need to be as they are wonderfully told stories and authentically atmospheric. For someone unfamiliar with the Prince of Persia story, this book is independent of that storyline and reads nicely on its own. I enjoyed the book very much simply because of my background of enjoying tales from the Arabian Nights.


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