The Last Council, the fourth book of the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi is truly its Empire Strikes Back moment. The tone is much darker, things go badly for our heroes and a fairly dramatic reveal occurs that changes and broadens the scope of the saga. The first three Amulet books built to bigger and challenges and larger triumphs and so it is a fairly significant shift for the fourth book to dramatically deepen the challenge and leave Emily and her fellow heroes with even bigger odds to overcome than they imagined at the start of the series.
Everytime I review an installment in the Amulet series I feel compelled to go back and reread the earlier books. In my review of the third book, I'm surprised that I called it a "middle" book — better to consider the first four books as a whole and to say that at this point the Amulet saga has reached the end of the beginning. I can only look forward to what plot twists and surprises Kibuishi has planned.
The art easily meets the high level of earlier books in the series. Panoramic views of the ghostly, flying city of Cielis are amazing as well as action shots of the drop ships flying into the city. Amazing, painterly scenes of fantastical vistas, and ancient caverns. Plus a lot of action! Kibuishi is really quite good at presenting fight scenes both with swords and the energy powers of the amulets.
In the plot, Kibuishi raises the stake by both explaining more than ever before about the amulets and their role in the world of Alledia, but also increases questions about the Elf King, his allies and what they want from Emily. Although she shares the spotlight again in this book, Emily really is the dominant character this time around and the central challenge and conflict revolves around her and the somewhat new character of Max (Emily and crew met him at the end of book three at the floating beacon). Emily's mom and brother Navin don't get as much to do in this volume. But all of the existing characters get something to do in this book from Trellis and Lugar to Redbone, Enzo and Rico. We are introduced to a few new important characters. Vigo, an older stonekeeper who was a friend and colleague of Silas, Emily's grandfather. Allyson, a young girl in the city oif Cielis who assists Leon Redbone. The robots Cogsley and Miskit also adopt a sort of baby dragon they name Dagno. Not quite an ewok, but potentially as cute.
It's tough to review these books as I don't want to give away any spoilers, but part of the pleasure of reading them is the twists and turns of the adventure. There's some really well-done left turns in the story here that I think everyone will enjoy. I definitely recommend picking up Amulet Book Four: The Last Council.
The publisher provided a free copy to ComixTALK for review purposes.