LEE, Tony (text) Sam Hart (illus.) Messenger: the legend of Joan of Arc Walker, 2014 unpaged $22.95 pbk ISBN 9781406336153 SCIS 1666385
In 1424, Jehanne d’Arc heard the voice of an angel telling her that she was to be a prophet and deliver messages from God to save her people. Although her task would make Jehanne a ‘bright flame of faith’, it would also shorten her life. So begins the story of Joan of Arc, maid and eventual martyr.
Told in powerful graphic novel form, with plenty of action, the story winds its way from Joan’s childhood through to her journey to see Charles VII, the establishment of her own army, her eventual imprisonment by the English and her execution by burning at the stake. Final pages tell of Charles’s regret that led to Joan’s posthumous retrial and the overturning of the original verdict.
There are many interpretations of the story of Joan of Arc. This depiction is a retelling apparently based on Tony Lee’s reading of historical documents that included letters written by Jehanne. As with any legendary story, there are slight differences from other retellings (for example, was Joan really given numbing medicine before being burned?) but altogether this makes a convincing story of faith and bravery. Joan is illustrated as a feisty, cinch-waisted woman who exhibits courage and faith beyond her time; and the graphic components bring colour and movement to her story. Recommended.
reviewed by Pam Harvey