Book Review: Messenger, The Legend of Joan of Arc


A graphic novel written by Tony S. Lee and illustrated by Sam Hart.

Joan of Arc was called The Messenger. In 1424, during the time of the Hundred Years War, 13 year old Joan claimed an angel visited her.  Her life’s purpose was to deliver messages from God. She was to take up arms, lead the French army to defeat the English invaders and their Burgundian allies, in order to free her country and place Charles VII on the throne of France. Unfortunately Joan’s life would be short and she would die a tragic death.

Did Joan really hear voices from God and the Saints or was she suffering from schizophrenia? Either way, her achievements were remarkable for a young, illiterate peasant girl with no military training, in medieval France.

Based on historical documents, including letters dictated by Joan during her imprisonment and the original transcripts of Joan’s trial for heresy before her execution, Messenger, The Legend of Joan of Arc is a powerful story. It tells Joan’s story from her time living with her family in the village of Domremy in northern France, to her campaign to convince the local authorities and Charles VII of her divine mission. You then experience Joan’s adventures on the battlefield and her eventual capture, trial and burning at the stake.

It is impossible to read Messenger, The Legend of Joan of Arc without having empathy for Joan. You will be outraged by her unnecessary death, due to the hypocrisy and treachery of the Catholic Church and appalled by the politics of war that lead to her betrayal by Charles. Joan’s love for her country, bravery and devout faith comes through to the reader in the narrative, as well as her acceptance of her coming death. The final page tells us about Joan’s legacy.

Use of colour is simple but the muted hues of watercolour reflect the moods of the story. For example, a battle will be portrayed in shades of red and yellow as opposed to the sombre tones of blue and purple used during the dark times of Joan’s trial for heresy. Language is designed for the modern reader.

Messenger, The Legend of Joan of Arc will make you think about true courage and strength of character, as opposed to weakness, corruption and the abuse of power. You will reflect on the rights of women and the value of life. You can read this exciting graphic novel through the One Card Network. Reserve it through the online catalogue or enquire at the Library.