Once upon a time, after the Big Bang but before the Permian Era, a man from the Land of Nord traveled to the opposite side of the world, where he met and fell in love with a South Pole woman.
Thus began the extraordinary tale of the Storyteller from Nord, in Isabel Greenberg’s graphic novel, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth.
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth (which isn’t really an encyclopedia) is a collection of stories about people, places, myths and legends, collected by the Storyteller of Nord from his travels around Early Earth in search of the missing piece of his soul.
On his epic journey, the Storyteller encounters all sorts of danger, like being captured by the Viking-like Dags of Britanitarka, and by the Sun King of Migdal Bavel; tempted by mermaids while sailing the seas; attacked by cyclops upon landing on unknown lands; and finally helped by gods to reach his destination.
The stories in The Encyclopedia of Early Earth are about family, loyalty, myths and legends, adventure, and of course, love, and some of the stories are simple and familiar – variations of popular Bible stories. Its dialogues, narrative and illustrations are childish and whimsical, making it a light, easy, and “relaxed” sort of read.
I had heard a lot of good things about Early Earth before I read it. Book bloggers and news website praised it as being one of the best graphic novels of 2013. Because of all the positive reviews I had read, I was prepared to be amazed and blown away. Sadly, it fell short of my rather high expectations.
I felt that the ending was too abrupt, and without much of a conclusion; so much so that I actually thought the copy I bought was missing a few pages (I actually checked a few times just to make sure, but I’m still not really convinced it isn’t missing any pages). It didn’t help either that the book’s appendices, which contained additional stories and information about Early Earth, seemed so random and out of place.
Though I wasn’t exactly wowed by Early Earth, I don’t think it should be missed by graphic novel enthusiasts or anyone looking for a quirky, offbeat read which doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously.
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth (2013) – Isabel Greenberg
Personal rating: 2.5/5