Delilah Dirk and the King's ShillingBook - 2016 | First edition.
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Constantinople, 1807. In the service of the Sultan, supreme leader of the Ottoman Empire, Erdemoglu Selim must fight for his wages – not ideal for a man more romantic philosopher than warrior. He is called upon to interrogate a foreign prisoner, a woman, no less, named Delilah Dirk, but then is accused of being in cahoots with her plan to steal ancient scrolls from the Sultan’s library. Selim is saved from execution in rather spectacular fashion by the same Delilah Dirk, who did indeed come to steal some ancient scrolls and they make a hasty escape in her flying boat before heading off to their next adventures.
Selim’s superpower is making superb tea and the ability to reason. Delilah’s superpower is everything else – archery, swordswomanship, picking locks, acrobatics, flying boats. They both have an overwhelming sense of honour, too, but in an interesting role reversal from most swashbuckling narratives, Selim honours his debts and gains even more wisdom, while Delilah is slightly more egotistical; she will fight to the death anyone who insults her reputation.
Canadian author / illustrator Tony Cliff began this graphic novel series online, and it moved into print in 2013. It and its sequel (Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling, released in 2016), have rich sepia-toned, witty illustrations (really, the scenery is quite breathtaking), distinct characters, and bantering dialogue full of irony and bombastic action. The historical setting appears to have been thoroughly researched - this is Jane Austen’s Regency period, but with some fairly significant twists. The plots are character-driven but daring and heroic, with very little blood depicted, making this a graphic novel series to be enjoyed by tweens, teens and adults alike, especially for anyone who likes resilient female characters. Delilah is a strong-willed female character whose flaws are obvious; however this makes her potential for growth nearly endless.
Violence: Swordfights and some shooting. Nothing too graphic.
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