Words: Jean-Pierre Dionnet, Picaret
Art: Jean-Claude Gal
Review by John Anderson
This is classic heavy metal. These stories about medieval armies, bloody battles, sprawling empires and ancient ruins originally appeared in Métal Hurlant, starting with the first issue in 1974. Most of them are written by Dionnet, one of the founders of that magazine, and beautifully illustrated by the visionary artist Gal.
There are two parts to this book. The first, Conquering Armies, is a series of short stories ostensibly about a mighty unstoppable army. But the stories focus on the common soldiers furing the times in the army is stalled between battles. My favourite story is just four pages long and concerns a soldier who has been ordered to guard the army’s back. But this is just a tactic to winnow the ranks: the army can’t support all its soldiers, so some expendable soldiers are ordered to become sentries and then left to die. I also love the last story, about a soldier who sells his compatriot into slavery and which has an entertaining surprise ending.