Story By: Brandon Sanderson
Script By: Rik Hoskin
Art By: Julius Gopez
Distributed By: Dynamite
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
It's been a while since I checked out a graphic novel set in a fantastical realm. That's why when Netgalley offered me the opportunity to read White Sand, I was very receptive. According to the author's notes, Brandon Sanderson had initially intended White Sand to be a novel, but five novels later, the manuscript of White Sand had not yet been submitted for publication. When Dynamite approached Sanderson for work that had never been published before and could be suitable for a graphic novel, he gave them his manuscript. Converted into a graphic novel by Rik Hoskin, would White Sand be as interesting as I expected it to be?
The story begins in Kerla, a desert community of Dayside. Kenton's people are Sand Masters, able to bend sand to their will, using it to create great structures and battle foes. The most masterful can turn sand to water if they so choose. Kenton's father, Lord Mastrell and leader of the Sand Masters, is one such being. Kenton, however, has never shown much aptitude and yet still yearns to become a Mastrell like his father.
Thus, it is with surprise that Kenton demands a turn at the Mastrell's Path, a treacherous trial designed to define a Mastrell's power and strength in the clan. Armed with nothing but his slight sand bending abilities, his sword and his mind, Kenton somehow completes the trial, excelling beyond expectations. He is just about to be elevated to Mastrell when his people are attacked by a local clan...a clan his people have been at peace with for years.
Believing himself to be the sole survivor of his people, Kenton joins forces with Duchess Khrissalla and her expedition. A Darksider like Kenton's long dead mother, Khrissalla is carrying out her betrothed's failed mission: to find the powerful sand mages of legend. Little does she know that she is now traveling with one. Can Kenton join forces with Khrissalla to discover the reason behind the senseless slaughter of his people?
I must say that I am intrigued by the first volume of White Sand. I like the strong-minded Kenton and found myself wanting him to succeed in his quest to become a Mastrell, his journey to discover who wanted his people dead so badly and his bid to rebuild his guild. I was interested in the rise of this new "priest" who preaches the end of the guilds and the rise of a new sort of leader. I wondered why no one was really trying to stop this individual who was preaching hate and destruction.
So, I think it's safe to say that the story and the characters of White Sand are strong enough to keep my interest, but what about the artwork? In the beginning, when there is nothing but sand and white-robed acolytes to look at, there isn't much to say about the artwork. At this point, we can call it decent, anatomically, but it is often difficult to discern one character from the other. But as the story progresses, color begins to make its way into the artwork, giving a new life to the visuals of the story, allowing the various main characters to really stand out in their own special ways.
Thus, in conclusion, I have to say that I'm glad that Dynamite approached Brandon Sanderson and that he allowed them to transform his manuscript into a graphic novel. White Sand presents an interesting storyline set in a world utterly different than our own, a complex and fantastical world filled with mystery and intrigue that will captivate the reader from the very first pages. Definitely well worth checking out.