Thieves & Kings by Mark Oakley

“[A] thoroughly engrossing fantasy saga.  This is a story for fans of Bone, Elfquest, Nausicaa, or Harry Potter to fall in love with; highly recommended for teen and adult fantasy readers everywhere.”

–The Library Journal

The Skinny

Thieves & Kings is a multi-volume, all-ages fantasy series following the young thief, Rubel, and the people and adventures surrounding him.  The story is told partly in a format similar to an illustrated fairy tale, and partly in the standard frame by frame comic book style people know and love.

An enduring tale of friendship, swashbuckling adventure, magic and coming of age – all achieved with warmth and humanity; the kind of book you can put down and feel happy and bubbly inside for having read. Originally self-published in black-and-white with fully painted covers.

“Mark Oakley wonderfully creates the effect of another world. While I was reading the collections, anytime someone would interrupt, they’d ask if I’d been taking a nap, because surfacing from his kingdom was like returning from far away.”

–Comics Worth Reading

The Style

Oakley contrasts down-to-earth dialog with a mythic air of strangeness and magic to invest his characters with personality and mystery that can make readers care and wonder about them. His unusual storytelling strategy masterfully shifts between comics form and pages of illustrated text, and even, in later chapters, occasional one-gag standalone comic strips that nevertheless advance the plot.

The art is dense and fluid and multifaceted – it matches the story, which feels like it’s been polished over and over, continually revisited and elaborated upon.

“It delves into those Big Things that have long enamored fantasy writers – the world-building, the threatened kingdoms, the hairsbreadth escapes. At the same time, what makes it unique, what makes it so wonderfully readable, is that it’s more concerned with the small things even when Big Things are afoot.”

–Ain’t It Cool News

The Story

Oceansend is a magical city with ten thousand years of secrets buried beneath her stones.  One inhabitant of this city, a boy named Rubel – his birth surrounded in magic and mystery – decides to become a thief.  A noble thief.

One day when Rubel is ten years of age, he encounters a princess in the woods.  Her name is Katara and she is caught in a problem beyond her solving.  Through a stroke of luck and mischief, the young thief manages to right her dilemma and in doing so, foiles the plans of her evil older brother and a wicked witch, both of whom had designs upon the throne of Asaria.  This done, Rubel swears himself to Katara, and she to him.  Shortly after, Rubel leaves to travel the world with his grandfather.

Upon his return four years later, Rubel finds that all his friends have vanished, his grandfather is dead, the princess has gone missing under questionable circumstances, and a powerful sorceress – Soracia, The Shadow Lady – is after his very soul.

Set against the backdrop of the city state of Oceansend, and magical war with dark powers, the story follows the life and adventures of the young thief Rubel, the Shadow Lady who seeks to capture his soul, the wizard, Quinton, and his apprentice, the sorceress Heath Wingwhit.

Between these four, demon traps are built, poisonings endured, and dragon dreams journeyed, while mad princes and monsters of every ilk challenge the way for all.

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