Sfar and Trondheim’s epic fantasy comedy gets more fleshing out with Monstres, the back story behind a few of the incidental characters featured in the other books. Just for the sake of a recap, the whole Dungeon series revolves around a castle – run by an entrepreneurial bird – who rightly believes that if you stock a dungeon full of treasure and monsters, you’ll get brave adventurers from across the world queuing up to raid its riches. Make sure they don’t get out alive and you get to keep their gold too, increasing the allure of your dungeon to ever more rich, brave and fool-hardy swordsmen. While Dungeon: Zenith deals with stories about the castle and its key inhabitants, Monstres takes some of the side characters and concepts and spins them off into interesting asides.
There are two stories in this book, one explaining how a dungeon denizen called John-John got to survive being cut into two pieces, and how he and his cronies found themselves quitting an unsuccessful inn business to take residence in the keep. The second story tells the tale of the magical all-seeing giant’s eye, which floods the castle with tears, necessitating a quest to find the giant the eye was stolen from in the first place and try to cheer him up.
It’s an entertaining burst of fantasy nonsense that encourages many a wry smile and a few bursts of genuine laughter. Sfar and Trondheim have a wealth of characters that are genuinely distinct and interesting enough to flesh out in this way, though we’d still recommend you stick to the core series to get you going, and only travel down this side-street if you really can’t get enough of the main event.
The most disappointing element is the artwork. Sfar and Trondheim have given the series such a distinctive style that, when the guest artists in this book attempt to adhere to it, it doesn’t quite seem to work. Which leaves you with the feeling that it’s a poor relation of the main series, despite the strength of the story.
Other titles in the Dungeon series: