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Mike Carey & Peter Gross – The Unwritten, Vol. 3: Dead Man’s Knock

June 29, 2011

81. The Unwritten, Vol. 3: Dead Man’s Knock by Mike Carey, Peter Gross, Ryan Kelly (2011)
The Unwritten, Volume 3

Read my review of volume:
1. Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity
2. Inside Man

Length: 160 pages
Genre: Fantasy

Started / Finished: 17 June 2011
Where did it come from? The library.

Summary: With the upcoming publication of the fourteenth novel about Tommy Taylor, the boy wizard, speculation is running high that Wilson Taylor, the reclusive author, will finally make an appearance at the book launch. Everyone has different reasons for wanting him there, however. While his legions of fans are simply hoping for a picture or an autograph, there is a shadowy cabal of people who can control the world through stories that want him for much more sinister reasons. And his adult son, Tom Taylor, wants to finally confront his father with questions about who he really is and how he relates to the protagonist of the books… a question that’s also plaguing Tom’s ally, Lizzie Hexam.

Review: Oh my goodness, this story is great. And, as much as I loved the first volume, I think it’s actually getting better as it goes along. In this volume, we get more and more clues about what’s really going on in Tom Taylor’s world, and who he is, and what his father can do, and the powers of the cabal, etc. For the first time, I feel like I’ve got enough information to start piecing together my own theories about how the various aspects of this story fit together, but there’s also enough nebulous areas that I know my theories are probably wrong… and the story thus far is put together well enough that I trust Carey enough that the final answers (if and when we get them) are going to be cooler than anything that I’d cooked up.

Apart from the big story elements in this volume, there were a lot of little things that I loved as well. The Harry Potter parallels are obvious, but this volume had some touches of His Dark Materials and other well-loved fantasy novels that I grinned whenever I recognized. The points made in Steven Hall’s introduction about the power of stories were nicely phrased, and resonated throughout the rest of the volume. And, maybe best of all, one whole issue was written as a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style book that was basically a character study of Lizzie, and wound up being not only completely fascinating, but also engaging in a way that I don’t normally get from graphic novels. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Don’t start anywhere but at the beginning, but this series should definitely appeal to Fables fans, and particularly to readers of Neil Gaiman, to whom the “power of stories” theme should be immediately familiar.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: “It’s still two days to the official launch of the fourteenth Tommy Taylor novel, and despite heavy rains, the line at Foley’s in Charing Cross Road is three-quarters of a mile long… Sarah?”

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • From a thousand childhood days, she knew its hiding places, and its ambuscades.” – ambushes.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2011 7:38 am

    But where is your haiku? :)
    I am glad you enjoyed this and if I live long enough, maybe I’ll start the series. I still have to read Harry Potter. For some odd reason, I’m actually considering reading those… (I know: crazy! right?)

    • June 29, 2011 8:41 am

      Care – I know, I’m a slacker. Truth is, while I like having the haikus, they’re usually the hardest part of the review to write, especially for short little middle-of-the-series graphic novels. But mostly: slacker.

      As for Harry Potter, while I love them and so think that yes, you should read them, they’re not actually super-required for this series. There’s a few little jokes you might miss, but as long as you’re aware of the cultural phenomenon of Harry Potter, you don’t really need any knowledge of the content of the books themselves to understand The Unwritten.

  2. June 29, 2011 8:39 am

    Care, you don’t have to read Harry Potter to enjoy The Unwritten—you’ve picked up enough through pop culture osmosis to work with it.

    Oh, this series! Lizzie’s issue blew my mind; it was absolutely fantastic. This is a beautiful and thoughtful series.

    • June 29, 2011 8:44 am

      Omni – Jinx! Snuck that comment in there just as I was replying to Care. :)

      I loved Lizzie’s issue, and working backwards and forwards to make sure I’d gotten it all, and being all interactive and engaged… not to mention that some of the artwork was particularly gorgeous (I’m thinking the scene with the boat.)

      • June 29, 2011 11:08 am

        Oh, I know. I’ve mentioned that the reason I buy it in single issues (besides being really impatient) is because the cover art is so ridiculously gorgeous, right? Yuko Shimizu is a genius.

      • July 1, 2011 10:34 am

        I do love the covers, and some of the panel-based artwork (especially the full-page painting), but sometimes the artists’ way of drawing figures and faces isn’t my favorite.

  3. June 29, 2011 2:53 pm

    I read this one sort of recently and I agree, the series keeps getting better and better!

    • July 1, 2011 10:34 am

      Nymeth – I really need to suck it up and buy the paperbacks instead of getting them from the library, because I know I’m going to want to read them all straight through.

  4. June 29, 2011 9:12 pm

    My damn library refuses to get this book in a timely manner! I want to read it soooo much — I thought the first two volumes were marvelous, and I cannot wait to see where this story is going to go. A comic a month is not nearly enough.

    • July 1, 2011 10:35 am

      Jenny – Agreed! You can go to your library and tell them that I said they need to hurry up.

  5. June 30, 2011 7:06 pm

    I have not ever read any of The Unwritten, but I love Gaiman’s graphic novels. It sounds really well-worth starting.

    • July 1, 2011 10:37 am

      Ela – Oh, yes, definitely! The whole “power of stories” idea that Gaiman plays around with so often is amplified and made very literal in The Unwritten, and it’s a fascinating result.

  6. July 5, 2011 9:12 am

    I really must get around to reading this. I bought it when it came out and then it just sat there… I think I might read all three of them when I finally sit down with it.

    • July 11, 2011 12:23 pm

      Kailana – Sounds like a plan! This series is complex enough that I always worry about what my memory is losing in between publications of the trade paperback collections.

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