Roy Thomas and Ron Randall finally deliver Arak and company to Damascus where upon arriving, Arak immediately sees a giant flaming sword above the city. The problem with seeing it is that nobody else does and they think it a figment of his imagination. Be that as it may, they continue on their way so that Alsind might head to his uncle’s house in order that he see his mother again and inform them of the old alchemist’s death which took place a couple of issues previous to this one. This of course leads to a bit of action where Arak faces a couple of guards who are unable to stop him and a family reunion that is not exactly the friendliest of reunions. At dinner, Arak relates his vision of the sword to which Alsind’s uncle offers a bounty upon it if Arak can retrieve it and that is when the pace of the book picks up a bit as the eternal wanderer named Jocephus comes into the picture to offer some timely wisdom on the sword, only to be struck down by assassins. A fight breaks out and while the group of armed intruders are fended off, one of them is revealed to have the face of a snake, something that shocks Arak for after learning of his history and the role the Cult of the Serpent has in it, he knows that there is something else in play. In a secondary tale that once again features Arak as a child, when he was simply known as Bright-Sky-After-Storm, he learns a lesson about life and death as his friend, Running Fawn, lies dying. It is hard for the young boy to fathom that a girl no older than he is near death like she is now, even more so that there might be nothing that White Snow-Owl can do. So it is that his grandfather tries his best and for a moment, it seems like there might be hope, but when it is all said and done, Running Fawn has passed away and Arak is slightly broken, vowing to be a warrior instead of a shaman when he is older that he might avoid knowing death. Unbeknownst to the young man, he will know it better than most. A great set of tales by Thomas with some great art to accompany them.
4 out of 5