The Lion of Rora

Christos Gage (Author) Ruth Fletcher Gage (Author)
& 1 more


In the tradition of BRAVEHEART and 300 comes THE LION OF RORA--the true story of Joshua Janavel, farmer-turned-freedom fighter, who Napoleon called history's greatest military tactician. Celebrated in verse by John Milton, Janavel and his fellow Waldensians battled to save their people from tyranny and persecution, the first case in European history in which subjects of a ruler rebelled to defend their religious freedom. Their fight inspired the Protestant Reformation and, in turn, the American Revolution. Written by New York Times betselling author Christos Gage (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) and television and film writer Ruth Fletcher Gage (Netflix's DAREDEVIL, LAW & ORDER: SVU), and featuring evocative art by Jackie Lewis, this painstakingly researched graphic novel chronicles the epic struggle over faith, freedom, and family.

Product Details

Oni Press
Publish Date
August 18, 2015
6.5 X 0.8 X 9.1 inches | 1.23 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Jackie Lewis is a comic book creator from Atlanta. Growing up, she spent most of her time drawing monsters and building forts in the woods. Now, she's thrilled that she gets to draw both of those things professionally. Jackie's published works include Merry Men, The Lion of Rora, and Play Ball.


BOOKLIST - Joshua Janavel and his seventeenth-century farming community in the Alps have faced years of persecution by the Duke of Savoy. Roused by Janavel's brilliant tactics and heartfelt speeches, the Waldensian peasants repel countless attacks against insurmountable odds, an incursion that would later inspire other rebellions, like the French and American Revolutions. Basing their book on historic events, the coauthors have written Janavel's story much like a blockbuster movie script, with plenty of suspense, over-the-top action, and daring escapes. Though this format turns some of the characters more into stereotypical movie fodder than historical figures, it nonetheless makes for compelling reading. Lewis' artwork sometimes feels cartoonish, given the serious subject matter, but it helps lessen the violence and gore of the brutal story, which might make it more appropriate for a younger audience. A great perspective on a historical event few Americans know anything about.

LIBRARY JOURNAL -- Written by Christos Gage (Avengers Academy) and Ruth Fletcher Gage and illustrated by Lewis, this graphic novel takes the reader back to the stories of how Joshua Janavel became known as the Lion of Rora. Janavel, a member of the Waldensian Church, was born in 1617 in Rora, Italy. A prosperous farmer-turned-courageous and renowned battle tactician, Janavel led his fellow villagers in defense of their religious freedom against attacks by the Duke of Savoy to rid Italy of Protestantism. Eventually, Janavel's people regained ownership of their villages and land, but he was exiled to Switzerland. In the same vein as Gene Luen Yang's Boxers and Saints, The Lion of Rora presents moments of history depicted with captivating art. The illustrated format provides a unique perspective on historical fiction and nonfiction; here, death is depicted without being gory and excessive, while emotion is easily conveyed across the faces of those involved in Janavel's history. VERDICT Recommended for large graphic novel collections serving teens and adults with room to spare on niche historical fiction. A potentially useful springboard for instructors in an academic setting.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY -- This historical adventure by married comics veteran writers Christos and Ruth Gage pulls from the real-life struggle of the Waldensians, a pre-Protestant religious sect in France that was often in conflict with the Catholic Church. Depicting events from the early 17th Century, the story follows farmer Joshua Janavel, who through circumstances out of his control becomes the leader of his people in rebellion, as the French government bears down on them with the intent of ripping their religion apart and slaughtering as many of them as they can while doing so. Well-researched and realized, the struggle of folk hero Janavel to save his people takes on the flavor of a Robin Hood adventure, without becoming too fantastical or unbelievable. Some dramatic action and dialogue falls into adventure-story clich├ęs, but that doesn't take away too much from the larger story's impact, and such attention given to an off-the-beaten path moment from history is certainly welcome. Lewis's art has historical detail with a clear storytelling style. A further-reading section offers plenty of areas for investigation.