“Don’t like vorking vit idiots. Need smart, dependable people who keep heads in fight. Can trust to vatch back. That someone I like vorking vit. And I like vorking vit you.”
—Orrig, orc mercenary and party leader
I pretty much instantly fell in love with Meg’s lovely fantasy/adventure webcomic, Daughter of the Lilies. It’s a smart, sometimes satiric take on the standard motley-crew of slightly dysfunctional adventurers story. I love stories and characters that play upon and play against genre archetypes and tropes with equal skill. Meg’s comic does this extremely well and maintains a strong balance of action/comedy/drama.
Daughter of the Lilies takes place in a fantasy world where magic is a part of everyday life and fantasy-adventurer tropes are legitimate job descriptions. The four lead characters are fairly well-balanced adventuring party, featuring an orc barbarian, elf archer, mostly human fighter, and a hooded mage. While the male fighter and barbarian are the heavy-hitters in the party, I appreciate that the ladies in the story are by no means weak and don’t take a back seat to the blokes. Not all writers have that kind of integrity, not mentioning any names (you know who you are).
Lyra is very much a play against the archetypical stoic, willowy elf archer in overly ornate, leaf-themed armor. In fact, she might almost be considered an elf bruiser. She’s slightly buff, sharp tongued, and often rude to those of lesser wit. She loves riling up her companions and isn’t afraid to take a swing at someone who’s annoying her. Her primary weapon is a composite short bow, but she’s an accomplished martial artist as well. Thus it’s important that her outfit be versatile for both skirmishing and close-combat.
I like that there’s no green to Lyra’s adventuring gear, taking a step away from the standard elfy archetype. Her armor is a light leather, which should offer decent protection from melee or arrow attacks, without hindering her movement and dexterity any. Her tights are light and loose for quick movement when skirmishing or brawling. That pad on her sleeve should cushion the joint when stuffing her elbow through some goblin’s nose. I like as well that her fingerless gloves offer similar padding for her knuckles in a fistfight without hindering her marksmanship. Lastly, her leather boots are light but durable for any adventure, with padding in the front for scrapping or kickboxing. Effective design, all around.
As much as I love Lyra as a character, my favorite is the title heroine, Thistle, a traveling mage. I love how her characterization plays against the standard haughty, above-it-all mage archetype. Thistle is a genuine sweetheart, honest and humble, she dislikes violence and tries to be kind—or at least polite—to everyone she meets, even people who are rude to her. At the same time, she seems reasonably learned and worldly, and is willing to stand up for her principles, even at the cost of her job.
As well as concealing her face, Thistle’s hood and mask protect her gentle head from rain and sun and weather. Though offering minimal protection, her outer vest should be durable for a forest trek or dungeon crawl. Underneath she wears a long-sleeved shirt for warmth and concealment, with the forearms wrapped to keep the sleeves from interfering with intricate spell-casting gestures. Those gloves seem a bit bulky, but should keep her hands concealed and don’t seem to interfere with her spells at all. Her pants are similarly loose for wherever her adventures take her. Though lighter than Lyra’s, I like that Thistle’s boots are padded in front for added protection.
Sartorial intelligence is one of the first things I look for in any kind of fantasy/adventure story, and I was immediately impressed with Meg’s heroines. No high heels, no bare cleavage or midriffs, no boob-shaped armor, no vital organs left unprotected. Instead we have a pair of smart, likable heroines in smart, protective, commonsense attire. Stellar designs all around, and I wish I could offer Meg a high-five in person.