Required Reading is DoomRocket’s love chest, where each week one of our contributors goes crazy over a book they just can’t seem to get enough of. Intrigued to find something new? Seeking validation for your secret passions? Required Reading gets you.
By Arpad Okay. Did you know that magicians secretly run everything? That they’re trained by monastic salamanders to control the various raw energies that make the world turn? They do. And if you’re among them, if you break the rules, leave your post, or fall in love (because of course that’s forbidden), there are other magicians out there who will hunt you down and kill you. A sinister and powerful man, an innocent student and an impossible dream lover are all caught up in a secret war. The titular “Day of the Magicians” is one where the pillars of the world will shake.
Day of the Magicians is where Harry Potter meets Hellblazer, a dense and stylized world, well developed and quite beautiful, whose story is focused almost entirely on three characters. Lancaster is the renegade magician who took a wife, who can never be killed, who is bent on vengeance. Drazen was abducted and forced into serving the Ancients — those reptilian monks mentioned before who also happen to have been raised from childhood to bring an end to Lancaster.
And Anja. Anja and Drazen meet in dreams. The story, for all its detail, is concerned first and last with these three, and that exclusivity gives all that happens to them greater impact. The power of the plot matches the importance of the characters. Magicians run the world, and Lancaster is looking to change that.
The power struggle to shake up humanity is for stakes so high that both sides are willing to sacrifice the innocent to win. Lancaster and his delightful vampire-ghost-raptor minions use illusions and mind control. They literally use people, have strangers do their bidding. And somehow Lancaster’s machismo makes being borderline evil seem cool. He’s messed up but honest, he does what he does to win and doesn’t deny it. The Ancients are two-faced. They brainwash the magicians. They torture and murder and they do it in the name of the greater good. The importance of what they do has created fanatics in their ranks. Devotion without reason? That’s the death of wisdom, and that’s no way to run things.
Pity the merciless and feel disgust towards those who prop up the world. Michelangelo La Neve has created utterly enigmatic characters, their motivations inscrutable, their actions unpredictable. Each subsequent reveal of Lancaster’s past serves to make assigning roles of right and wrong more and more difficult. Every magician is trained in the labyrinth to forget their history, but lose the past and you are doomed to repeat it. Is this good or bad? The Ancients wish for the path they walk to be ouroboran, fixed, endless. Lancaster’s path is a spiral; it covers the same ground as a cycle, but moving forward. Deeper.
The story is rich with La Neve’s vision. Grand conflict of high consequence, and details, details everywhere, pouring from Marco Nizzoli’s pen and fleshing out the world, giving it life and body and validity. The stuff of dreams. Monks in magic fortresses. Gothic laboratory contraptions. Galleons and motorcycles. Assassins. Not only people and places, but belongings, notebooks and jewelry. Sculpture and photographs and personal libraries and refrigerator art. And all of it is realized enough to serve the story of Drazen and Lancaster but never so overcomplicated that it comes first. It is all wonder befitting the presence of Gods. A tale of a world worth caring about, and the men who come to care for it.
Written by Michelangelo La Neve.
Illustrated by Marco Nizzoli.
Colored by Silvano Scolari, Fabio d’Auria, Albertine, and Marco Nizzoli.
Translated by Samantha Demers.
US Edition edited by Alex Donoghue and Tim Pilcher.