La Quête de l’oiseau du temps, aka The Quest For The Time Bird, is a French fantasy originally started in the early 80s, spanning eight volumes in total. Titan’s collected edition features the first four (the second four form a separate prequel, originally published sometime later, in the 90s).
In the medieval lands of Akbar, the evil god Ramor is about to be released from his prison after many years. Immediately we’re thrown into the action as we meet the heroine of our adventure, Pelisse, as she discovers it is up to her to prevent the end of the world!
The typical ‘fantasy’ cast are all present and correct: our buxom heroine; the bespectacled sidekick; the cutesy creatures; the bearded wise old man; and it’s a retired knight that needs to be forced into action who is the readers’ point of entry. As he discovers the point of the quest, so do we.
Meanwhile, Pelisse’s mother, the mysterious Sorceress holds the key to the spells. The Time Bird will, apparently, grant the Sorceress extra time to master a spell that will keep the evil Ramor entombed!
The premise is a little on the convoluted side but this is a multi-volume quest after all, and it’s most definitely all about the journey. However, there’s plenty of stereotypical quest-story conceits, such as obligatory riddles and puzzles for the characters to solve. There’s no breaking new ground here. Sadly, when the heroine’s breasts play so much of a starring role, the story feels at its most dated. And while it’s entertainingly told, writer Serge Le Tendre fails to bring anything new to the genre.
Fortunately there’s some really lovely artwork here from Régis Loisel. The character designs are detailed and inspired. The ancient city of Ir-Weig feels truly organic, while Tha, the city on stilts, bustles with life. Loisel also does well to keep the artwork slightly more subtle than the story, judging by how many characters are obsessed with Pelisse’s voluptuous assets!
It’d be a real work of stamina to read all 232 pages in one go, but if you enjoy Loisel’s artwork you’ll keep coming back for more.