In an endless sea of sand drifts the Mud Whale, a floating island city of clay and magic. In its chambers a small community clings to survival, most dying young from the very powers that sustain them.
Chakuro is the Archivist for the Mud Whale, diligently chronicling the lives and deaths of his people. As one of the saimia wielders, whose life spans are cut short by their own magic, he knows his time is limited and is determined to leave a better record than his predecessors. But the steady pace of their isolated existence on the Mud Whale is abruptly shattered when a scouting party discovers a mysterious young girl who seems to know more about their home than they do…
Children of the Whales has a subtle post-apocalyptic steampunk feel to it. In this world, the people live atop a island that moves on a sea of sand (a sea that takes everything into it, except this island). The community living on this exile island is close-knit, and their way of life is idyllic – and most of this first volume goes into setting up their life. Chakuro is a main character, and the archivist of the island, but there are other major character viewpoints through which we see the story too.
The plot is put into motion when they find a girl on an abandoned island similar to theirs. She comes from a world beyond that and knows thing, but the council of elders that control the island have kept her away from Chakuro and his friends. Meanwhile, the other fantasy part of this is most of the people on this Mud Whale are thymia-users (essentially using some elemental magic that is not been clarified yet). Towards the climax, a major event upends the peaceful sanctity of the island, which makes me wonder what was out there and what were they ‘exiled’ from.
The story set-up is good, but as this book was more invested in the world-building, it felt stagnant until the last chapter. The artwork is good, and elaborate in some parts. I look forward to seeing where the story takes us in future volumes.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Viz Media LLC, via Edelweiss.