While I wouldn’t presume to say that I’m an expert on the hardcore fantasy genre, every now again story will come along that will pique my interest. It’s certainly a difficult task to create a new world while the tropes have become almost second nature to a particular part of the audience. And with big name IPs dominating the market in America and around the world, taking the needed steps to build a story that is fresh, but also accessible, is a challenge to be sure. That’s where Konungar: War of Crowns #1 (Statix Press) comes in to fabricate an ambitious and striking work that is a breath of fresh air.

Drawing from the most potent and melodramatic elements of Norse mythology and Viking culture, Konungar is at heart a story of brothers torn asunder and the need to reconcile. Civil war is the name of the game, and while war stories are a dime a dozen in any form of media, there is something special at play here. Crossing the borders of legacy, family, and Norse sorcery, this book is sophisticated comic storytelling of the highest caliber. The central narrative focuses on brothers Sigvald (the older of the two) and Rildrig (the sitting king), who are engaged over who rightfully should wear the crown and have dominion over their fabled kingdom of Alsvatik. With the encouragement of their younger sister and some sinister magickal elements, the brothers will need to find a way to put down their swords to unite against even greater foes.

Art by Juzhen

From the first pages up to the thrilling cliffhanger, the stakes are high for both characters and the world, as years of conflict have decimated land and blood with no end in sight. As threats both external and internal begin to percolate, how will the rivaling brothers For readers seeking to immerse themselves in the dark, fantastical world of ruthless kings, trolls, and centaurs need only look to the brooding vision of writer Sylvain Runberg and artist Juzhen for the best of what the genre has to offer. Runberg’s steady hand at world-building and his eye towards the intricacies of subtle statecraft and sanguinary release are impeccable.

Brutal, but brilliant, Konungar: War of Crowns reimagines an ancient mythos that is as thoroughly engrossing and entertaining as is it thought-provoking. Readers who dabble with fantasy will recognize some familiar tropes, but the powerful story and equally dynamic visuals make this a perfect place to get your depictions of dynastic politics, sorcery, and good ol’ fashion bloodletting in one go. Visceral, ambitious, and among the best works of contemporary high fantasy, Konungar: War of Crowns is an emotional, relentless epic. 

Konungar: War of Crowns releases on June 13.

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