"I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder..."
Pardon, movie flashback.
While the new court apothecary is about as dreamy as the Man in Black, and this series involves a princess and a fair dose of court politics, APOTHECARIUS ARGENTUM is far less tongue-in-cheek than The Princess Bride.
Argent is a young man out of legend. Raised to be the ultimate weapon, an elite group called Basilisks, he developed an immunity to all manner of toxins, all the while becoming poisonous himself. His mere touch, or a drop of his blood, can be fatal. Sold as a slave as a young boy, he was prized as a potential weapon and ultimately was bought by the King of Beazol to act as a taster for the young princess Primula. As Argent could identify but also withstand almost any poison, he was well-suited to his job.
No one realized that the princess was not the type to allow this practice to continue. Growing more and more fond of Argent, in a burst of rebelliousness, she frees Argent and commands him to flee and live his own life. Fast forward a few years, and the princess discovers that Argent has set up shop in her own kingdom as an apothecary, determined to use his knowledge and powers for life rather than death.
This series is off to a promising start; with two charming leads caught in a believable web of court intrigue, the potential for an exciting plot and a future romance are tantalizing. The art is suitably evocative, portraying the kingdom and its customs as well as lending the right level of beauty and energy to the characters. Argent is reclusive but tender, and given his background it's remarkable he's not more obviously damaged. The princess --- impulsive, strong-willed and more of a jock than a wilting flower --- brings humor to the overall story and needles Argent into breaking out of his cautious nature.
This first volume, however, hints that Argent has good reason to be cautious --- Princess Primula's father is not a man to be trifled with, and while he may love his daughter, he has no qualms about using Argent for his own political ends. As the series continues, it will be interesting to see just how Argent, Primula and some potentially nasty plots and politics will all combine.
Reviewed by Robin Brenner on May 2, 2007
Apothecarius Argentum, Volume 1