The Order of Belfry Review
A review by Christoph Staffl
Set in medieval times, The Order of Belfry tells the story of Princess Idina and her journey to save her brother. Through the prologue, we learn that five years ago, a war started between Cervidae and Rosoideae. After King Samuel of Cervidae was killed, his brother Hans took over. Due to his inexperience in battle, he was fast captured by his opponents. While his parents run the country, his sister wants to rescue him. Though a skilled fighter, the king forbids Idina to go on such a dangerous adventure. The main reason for that is her gender. Though you know what is going to happen before the prologue is over, it is still awesome to see the elements unfold. Idina takes matters into her own hands and does not listen to her father.
In the beginning, the story feels a bit rushed. After the prologue, we jump right back into the present, and Idina’s failed attempt to save her brother. Her parents are obviously furious about all this and send her to the Belfry. This castle acts as a kind of safe haven for women, far away from the battle. Idina’s aunt, Lady Provost, is in charge there.
My first impression of The Order of Belfry was that the storyline felt very concerning. Mainly, I feared that it would be full of tropes: rebellious Princess, sent away by her conservative father; an evil aunt plus cousins who terrorize her. Fortunately, a few panels later, a twist comes around the corner, and we get a fascinating story.
I read through all 60 “updates” that are available on this web comic in one sitting. I was very impressed with the quality. The artwork is impressive. Be it the clothes, the surroundings or how the characters move — it feels like we are actually in medieval times. But The Order of Belfry is far more than that.
The main cast is 90 percent women, which is great. The Ladies of The Order of the Belfry have to organize themselves and are not watched by the king. This means that they can do and act as they see fit. Lady Provost trains them well. Understandably, not everyone wants to be a knight, so we have different professions. There are knights, scientists, trainees and more. Every character can express their unique personality; each one seemingly comes with a rich and fascinating history. And I am eager to learn more about them. In addition to that, every character gets to have her moment to shine.
The only thing The Order of Belfry has in common with other medieval stories is the setting. The first and biggest change in the theme is the completely inverted world. We don’t just have a nearly all female cast, but also a lot of homosexual relationships, love interests, and secret gay affairs. At that point, I couldn’t stop reading and wanted more of this fascinating world.
But the creators don’t stop there. They provide us with a lot of extras as well. They answer questions in comic format (!), give you character guides, family trees, additional covers for the separate chapters, anniversary covers, sketches, present-day and awesome fan art, and background stories of some of the characters. It’s obvious that they put a lot of effort into this project.
Throughout the three and a half chapters available, I only found one little flaw in the storytelling. It’s on Idina’s first mission, where a character makes a particular decision, and I don’t quite understand why. If I would have been in his position? I’d do the complete opposite. Maybe it will get clearer a little later on. But other than that, I love the story.
Read it! The Order of Belfry feels like a fresh medieval story. The fact that most of the characters are at least bisexual is an interesting premise, which you don’t get to see very often from mainstream comics. Read this incredible web comic and support the creators if you can, so they can continue to do their brilliant work.