I remember being delighted the first time I saw The Dark Crystal in 1982, I even had a movie calendar from Burger King (for 1983) that had one of its months dedicated to the Jim Henson creation.
The world (I didn’t know at the time that it was called Thra) appealed to me, and despite the fact that I could tell the characters were puppets there was a craftsmanship and artistry that made the world so engaging.
Then I remember coming across the first of the trio of graphic novels, The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths in 2011. It wasn’t so long after that that I heard rumors of a new series being developed (I have relations who are actually actively involved in the series production), and then Netflix dropped the trailer for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance!
A quick Google search revealed to me that there has been four books published as well, and I put my local library to work gathering them up for me, and I dug into the first one recently.
Set around the same time as the Netflix series, the first book in the series, Shadows of the Dark Crystal, brushes up against characters that are presented in the series, as well as events that have happened. Admittedly some of the events have changed a little since the book was written, but perhaps that can be charted up to the way the characters remember them.
At the center of the story is young Naia, in line to be Maudra of the Drenchen clan who make their home in the tree known as Great Smerth in the Swamp of Sog. She sets out on a mission to Ha’rar to stand in the place of her twin brother, who has been accused of treason and vanished from the Castle of the Crystal.
We’ve met her brother in the series. His name is Gurjin and he was a castle guard, alongside Rian, who discovers the truth about what the Skeksis are up to. Joining her on the way is a song-teller, Kylan, and popping in and out of the story is another character who makes an appearance in the series Tavra of Ha’rar and daughter of the All-Maudra.
Naia is determined to prove her brother is innocent of the treasonous charges, but on the way she encounters all manner of danger, one of which involves a revelation in the Castle of the Crystal itself.
The story is well written, references The Creation Myths, as well as knowing that it will interweave around the series, supporting it, even as it tells its own story. It features illustrations by Corey Godby, and feels very much of the world Henson and his friends, and company created.
The first book ends with only part of the journey done, leaving Naia and Kylan recovering from their adventures, before setting out to warn the rest of Thra about the danger of the Skeksis.
I love that this is such an incredible world, and the series, the graphic novels, and these books all tie in to one another. I just throw on Trevor Jones’ classic soundtrack for the film, and continue my own journey through Thra, and the Dark Crystal.