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Wednesday, 25 July 2012

In Review: Papyrus - The Anger Of The Great Sphinx

Papyrus - The Anger of the Great SphinxPapyrus, written and illustrated by Lucien de Gieter, is a young Egyptian fisherman who, having been given a magical sword by the crocodile goddess Sobek, must protect the Pharaoh's young daughter Theti-Cheri from danger. In The Anger of The Great Sphinx he has his work cut out for him.

In the middle of the night, Princess Theti-Cheri sleepwalks out of the palace and takes a chariot to the Great Sphinx. Papyrus follows her to protect her, but when he finds her, she is the prisoner of the Sphinx, who is angry at the royal line for breaking their covenant and letting the sands cover him. The Sphinx wants her life as sacrifice so to save her Papyrus must journey to the island of the gods to beg them for mercy while being opposed by a human sand storm.

Papyrus is perhaps my favourite of all the junior Cinebook titles with its mixture of historically accurate Nineteenth Dynasty Egypt (Theti-Cheri's father being the real Pharaoh Merneptah), fantasy beasts and ancient Egyptian gods. De Geiter began Papyrus in Spirou magazine issue 1867 in 1974 while this particular story ran for 10 issues beginning with issue 3070 in 1997 after which it was released as the 20th album of the now 32 album series. It is the fifth release in the Cinebook series.

With the Sphinx having Theti-Cheri in his grip, the story is really a quest tale as Papyrus overcomes various problems to get to the island of the gods and back again within the same day. These problems range from Anty the ferry boat/man/dragon, a hallucinogenic castle, a trip to the modern day ruins of the temple of Amon, as well as the bickering triplets who should be keeping the Sphinx free of the sands that are blown over it by the human sand storm.

Unlike the previous four Papyrus titles, this one feels a little bitty. It doesn't flow smoothly between sequences and the weekly breaks that it had on its original publication in Spirou are rather obvious. That said De Gieter's artwork is more than up to the challenges that the story provides as Papyrus is accompanied by his friend Puin as they strive to find the gods and ask their forgiveness before the human sand storm claims Papyrus' magical sword and the Sphinx kills Theti-Cheri.

Papyrus - The Anger Of The Great Sphinx isn't as strong a story as previous offerings due in part to its weekly origins but it remains a interesting and exciting book that will entertain the younger members of the family.

There are more details of the English language Papyrus books on the Cinebook website.

There are more details of the French language Papyrus albums on the Dupuis website (in French).

There are more details of Papyrus on De Gieter's website (in French) including a selection of pencil sketches of the characters.

 

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