Leia Weathington’s sword-and-sorcery epic The Legend of Bold Riley is illustrated by Leia and a host of talented artists. “Who is Bold Riley?” you might ask. She has hunted the wildest game and dallied with countless beautiful girls, but still longs to know the world beyond the city walls. Princess Rilavashana SanParite, called Bold Riley, leaves behind her station and sets out to travel through distant lands and find forgotten ruins, fearsome enemies, inscrutable gods and tragic love. – [X]
Okay, first off, I would like to clarify that I am talking about the (free) webcomic here and not the book, which I have not yet been able to read. It’s just that the cover for the first volume was so pretty that I decided to use it here.
Secondly, this comic definitely has crossover appeal. I maybe would not recommend this one to younger readers. I see this having more of a late teens / young adults kind of viewership. Especially if, as Neil Gaiman once said, you are scared of nipples. Apart from that … well, nothing really gory happens (yet) and the Riley is a pretty awesome protagonist (so far) and I honestly can not wait to get my hands on the book!
There are many wonderful things about The Legend of Bold Riley, I am not sure where to start. Perhaps, I will begin with the obvious- Bold Riley’s character design is most definitely derived from the cultures of the Indian subcontinent. I am inclined to say, by the size of her bindi, that she is very Bengali. But apart from that, there is no characteristically specific part of India that she is from. In fact, all the people and worlds that she encounters in her travels are a blend of cultures. At some point, she battles a demon in a strikingly Maya-esque kingdom. It’s kind of reminiscent of how the world is constructed in Avatar: The Legend of Aang. (And I’m pretty sure, despite the black and white colour scheme of the web comic, that Riley has yet to encounter a character who is white.)
The way the stories are told (again, I am speaking here of the two tales presented to us online) reminds me of mythological stories I used to hear from my Mum. Exiled royalty, travelling ceaselessly, making friends (and also, *ahem* friends), and defeating evil. All in a day’s work for a hero. Which is exactly what Riley is- a hero. And the best part is, she gets to have all of the things that I had previously only imagined a male hero doing:
- Decides to travel the world instead of marry.
- Gets her flirt on with many dames.
- Also, helps out these dames. (And I have to mention that every woman that Riley encounters is different and in possession of an actual personality. Instead of the usual blurry line of beautiful conquests.)
- Slays some demons.
- Looks awesome while slaying demons.
- Has some cheesy, boisterous lines while slaying demons. (Look below for evidence!)
(EDIT: OH! I just realised that she is the charming rogue figure I always fall for! Ha!)
And because Leia Weathington decides against making the world an oppressively heteronormative place (like Malinda Lo did for Ash), Bold Riley does not get pushed around for being a lesbian. That kind of categorization and the terms for that kind of categorization do not even get mentioned, as far as I’ve noticed. Instead, Bold Riley gets to be a (ex!) princess as well as a warrior, she gets to be a lover but also a slayer, and she gets to wear clothes that show off her femininity, without them being … well …
Perhaps, my only issue is with the layout of the webcomic. I don’t usually have this problem, but I think I would almost rather have read from the book because it seems to have coloured illustrations and they make such a difference:
Basically, really fun hero, really fun myth-like/folklore stories, and a seemingly endless adventure. Apart from a too-sexy-for-your-eyes kind of issue*, I am not sure why you wouldn’t want to pick this one up.
*Obligatory winky face alert!