Hello everyone, my name is Josh, and I am a mythology enthusiast. The more unknown and unpopular type, the better. I can’t count the times I’ve gone into a bookstore looking for a story that wasn’t Greek, Roman, or Norse and left disappointed. It’s always exciting when I get to see something that isn’t one of the above. So when I found Buyan: The Isle of the Dead, saying I was excited would be an understatement.
Buyan is based on Slavic mythologies and combines many of the ballads together. It follows Maansi, a Nenet man, and his dog as he searches for Buyan, an island of the dead and fantastic, all the while being chased by Batu Khan’s Golden Horde.
Martin and Xabier Etxeberria have done an amazing job creating this world by combining the Slavic ballads with the history of the Teutonic Knights and the Mongols. From the beginning, they make it clear that the fantastic is not imaginary in this story, showing a siren within the first couple of pages. They touch topics and themes like religion and traveling, which are relevant to today’s society. My only complaint is that the climax felt empty: big battle, lots of action, and a couple of revelations that kind of fall flat. It’s like they solved a mystery the reader wasn’t aware of. The Etxeberrias just didn’t spend enough time sowing the seeds to make me care about these revelations.
Aritz Trueba’s art is dynamic, full of action, and a lot of fun to look at. I love his colors! None of his colors look oversaturated. Instead, they look natural. It’s like Trueba looked at each scene in-person and then matched it to the art with perfection. The clouds, the grass, roads, and buildings look incredibly realistic. Trueba’s layouts are well laid out and easy to follow. It only gets unusual when Maansi starts dreaming.
Buyan: The Isle of the Dead is a beautiful book based on Slavic ballads. Highly recommended if you are looking for something fresh in your mythological stories.