If you know me, you know that I have always been a fan of Egyptian mythology. So, you can imagine how excited I was when I happened upon Black Sands: The Seven Kingdoms. Published by Black Sands Entertainment, the comic is an indie project that, as creator Manuel Godoy says, “our community needs”. After all, “we barely ever learn anything about African achievement in history before slavery.”
This review has been a long time coming. I received a limited edition signed copy of the first three chapters as a late birthday present. As an aspiring indie writer myself, I had to support! And as a fan of Egyptian mythology, I was not disappointed!
Written by Manuel Godoy and illustrated by David Lenormand, Black Sands is unique in many ways. Unlike other depictions of Egyptian mythological figures, it depicts Osiris, Isis, Set, three of the most famous Egyptian gods, as children, rather than adults. The story is set up as much as a coming of age tale for these super-powered characters as a tale of impending danger to their kingdom.
Secondly, the comic avoids the names for the gods that we English-speakers inherited from the Greeks. Young Osiris is called Ausar, his sister is called Auset, and their kingdom is called Kemet, rather than Egypt. This gives an authentic feel to the story.
Third, Black Sands features African civilisation outside of Egypt as well. The kingdom of Kush is important to the story, and even the little known warrior god Apedemak graces the pages with his presence.
Without revealing too much, I will say this: Black Sands chapters 1 to 3 do a good job setting a foundation for what is to come. We see the motivations and flaws of the characters and how they may just help to carry the story along. Ausar, for example, is an impulsive child set on proving his worth to his overbearing grandfather Rah we well as to everyone else that he is worthy of his royal bloodline and abilities; even at risk to his own person and (unfortunately) those around him.
As these children strive to grow in maturity and their supernatural abilities, though, we see an impending doom as invaders arrive at their shores. Even with the powers that the royal family possesses, we get a feeling that these strangers pose a true danger to the nation of Kemet.
Black Sands creatively remixes ancient tales and figures from Northern African myth into a beautifully crafted (and drawn!) work of art. I would recommend it to any fan of comics and fantasy, specifically Afrofantasy. My hope is that efforts like this will pave the way for more and more stories that depict stories set in and inspired by African nations, peoples, and cultures much lower down than Egypt.