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WesternSFA
The Battle of Blood and Ink
by Jared Axlerod & Steve Walker
Tor, $14.99, 144pp
Release Date: April 2, 2013
This graphic novel about a rogue reporter and a flying city is an utter delight, well-written with plenty of humor and action, distinctively penned in black and white so that the images bring the story to life.

Amperstam is a levitated city, but that is the only resemblance it bears to a certain imagined realm described by Lemuel Gulliver, for it is not a world of distracted thinkers and practical servants, but one of sky pirates, ruthless politicians, privileged gentry, rabble, working poor, adventurers, and two radical reporters: Ashe and Tolban. Ashe is the daredevil who lives and loves to tell the uncomfortable, inconvenient truths that oil the wheels of profit-making and politicking, while Tolban is her long-suffering partner.

Ashe’s quest for revelations that will annoy Amperstam’s Provost, the Lady Elderheim, leads her to form an unlikely alliance with the city’s official newsman, Cardor, who admires Ashe for many reasons, but they also earn the ire of the Provost to the extent that she sends an assassin after Ashe. Meanwhile, Ashe has a few odd memories from her childhood that haunt her, and when she discovers what those fragments of memory mean, she finds out the source of the power that keeps Amperstam aloft. And then she has to figure out how to save lives without bringing all of Amperstam crashing down in ruin.

It is wonderful to be presented with a swashbuckling heroine of noble purpose. This is a remarkable collaboration, one I strongly recommend. ~~ Chris R. Paige

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