Though they might have had a good bit of luck in gaining a ship and a guide to White Cathay, Arak and company can do nothing about the storm that is pounding down upon them now while crossing the ocean. As it is, it turns out to be too much and the ship sinks with Valda, Satyricus and Arak making it to shore, at least in a fashion of sorts. Also still alive is Johannes, that mysterious wizard/priest who had volunteered to lead the companions to their destination and who going forward, plays an integral role in their survival. Drawn by Adrian Gonzales and Alfredo Alcala, they keep the reader hooked no matter the situation whether it be a fight against a storm or a battle against a mythical creature called a Roc which soon takes place as Arak and his friends make their way towards Malagigi’s captors. Roy Thomas who writes this adventure also puts the spotlight on Satyricus for a moment as the last Satyr looks for a bit of redemption in the eyes of Valda, knowing that he did something wrong and trying to make up for it. Altogether this was a great story that had much in the way of content as previous issues where Arak must do battle against a ferocious creature and yet, no matter how many times the reader sees it, the creators of this book always make it fresh and interesting even if the bulk of it is made up of Arak trying unsuccessfully to defeat a giant bird. In the end, the hero comes out on top and the lot of them continue on their way, finally coming to the Sea of Shifting Sand, an unnatural desert that stands in the way of their goal. The story leaves off with a bad portent as Angelica, the Sorceress Queen of White Cathay knows they are coming which does not bode well at all. A second tale once again permeates the book and it is another starring Valda the Iron Maiden from her time in King Carolus Magnus’ court. It is the Yuletide season and custom is the name of the game, but so is it a time of remembrance. For some, those are good memories and for others, they are not, like certain nobles who hold a grudge against the king. For Pip, firstborn of the king and a hunchback and therefore removed from the line of succession, he only wants to please his father and does the opposite instead, accidentally calling down the Berserkers of Yule instead. This leads to some incredible fighting by those assembled until Malagigi steps in to save the day. Valda’s adventures are always enjoyable and this one was no exception, though once again, it takes a backseat to the far more entertaining lead tale, the two of them making for a great issue.
4 out of 5