The Knights of Heliopolis

Statix: Titan. Apr. 2021. 232p. tr. from French by Marc Bourbon-Crook. ISBN 9781787736085. $39.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
In the 18th century, the Knights of Heliopolis—a secret order of immortals whose ranks include Imhotep, Lao Tzu, John the Apostle, and Nostradamus—gather in northern Spain to witness the initiation of a mysterious figure known only as Seventeen. Seventeen quickly proves adept at hand-to-hand combat and swordplay, and is soon revealed to be Louis XVII, the long-lost intersex legitimate heir to the French throne, who was raised in exile after being supplanted by their father’s illegitimate son. After surviving a mystical ritual of rebirth, the dauphin is renamed Asiamar and tasked with assassinating Napoleon Bonaparte—a former prospective member of the Knights of Heliopolis until he was corrupted by an unquenchable thirst for power. When Asiamar decides to seduce Napoleon instead of killing him, the stage is set for a series of events that will play out across centuries and faraway universes.
VERDICT The story begins as a riff on The Man in the Iron Mask but quickly twists, turns, and defies easy categorization. It includes mystical rituals, a secret history of the world, talking gorillas, an exploration of sex and gender roles, and brutal brawls between superhuman combatants. Fun to read and epic in scope.
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