Webcomic profile: Aether: Earth and Sun
Aether: Earth and Sun

Last update: 17th Jun 2018, 6:00 AM
Graphic Violence / Gore Frequent Strong Language
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Ineffective mage Seynir and her friend Jethenis are given a task that leads them on a journey to find help for their village and solve the mystery of the threat that is looming on the horizon.

Updates Wednesdays and Sundays.


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Chapter seven ends almost as soon as it began, and with it, my reread of Aether concludes.

There are a lot of abandoned comics on the internet. When I am asked for recommendations for webcomics to read, I am usually hesitant to suggest that someone start reading a narrative comic which stopped in the middle of a story arc. Aether is the lone exception. I believe the art, characters, and world hold up well enough to make this comic worth reading even without an ending to the story.

Had Gillian Renk finished the comic, I have little doubt she could have found a way to wrap the plot up in a satisfying manner. As it is, the comic is still a joy to read. If the author ever writes another comic series, I'll be happy to read it.

There are a handful of webcomics for which I have bought PDF compilations, so that I'll have offline copies if they ever come down. Aether is one comic where I would be happy to buy compilation ebooks if they existed, but given the fact that Renk has moved on, that seems unlikely.
I first caught up with Aether mid-way through chapter six. Sadly, it is the last complete chapter of the series. Merynna starts the chapter by confirming once and for all that she is an awful person, who nonetheless is an enjoyable character to read. She wants to be seen as the anti-Torginal: Merynna is pettily against anything Torginal is for, just for the sake of being against him. While Torginal enacts a secret long-term scheme, Merynna seems to have trouble thinking five minutes ahead. On the other hand, neither Torg nor Merynna care at all about the well-being of other people, so in one sense Seynir is a much better arch-rival for Torginal than Merynna could ever hope to be.

Merynna insists on being involved when Seyn convinces Jynad of Torg's villainy, despite the fact that Jynad already has some degree of trust for Seyn and also knows that Merynna is a terrible person. Merynna doesn't explain why she needs to be involved: I guess she just can't stand not being the center of attention in anything that involves opposing Torginal. And, she still hides some of what she knows from Seyn and the others until meeting Aneia and Jynad. Juda probably realizes within five minutes of meeting Jynad that signing up with Merynna was a mistake.

The reunion of Seyn and Jeth with the others from their village is heartwarming in an otherwise tense chapter. In her characteristic style Renk manages to convey all of the emotions in the scene without words.

The summit of the wizards, and the subsequent chaos, is everything I could want in the penultimate arc of the story. I think I'll refer back to the comment I made more than two years ago when the chapter ended.

The only thing to be sad about is that this isn't really the penultimate arc, since the next chapter was never completed.
Whelp, I made it back here. Back to the page that was current when I first caught up. I'm almost to the end of the saga for this reread.
Chapter 5 is a major turning point in the story. Most of the long-running mysteries are blown open, starting with the identity of the mysterious earth mage from the intermissions: Karthad. He makes no secret of the fact that he is behind the ghosts, or of his desire for earth mages to rule the world. J reveals she knows a lot more than the rest of the main cast, but there is one thing Seyn knows that she doesn't: J says her employer is the only "wizard" trying to stop Torginal's plan, but Jynad also knows about the ghosts and is much more trustworthy and benevolent than Merynna. Oh, and J is Juda, Lessar's daughter hinted at last chapter.

Lessar is able to imitate the persona of an annoying old man whining about today's kids so wildly unlike his usual personality, and he reminds me why he is in my top three favorite characters of the series.

The showdown with Karthad really shows how far Seyn has come. At the beginning of the story, Seyn didn't see anything wrong with earth mages being ostracized from society. Now, when Lessar attempts to do the old mentor heroic sacrifice thing, but Seyn doesn't let him. She still has the tracking skills she learned due to her desire to be a scout. And where she was barely able to do magic at the beginning of the story, now she has enough control over sun magic to create a sword out of sun magic, duel Karthad, and win.

Torginal's ability to both speak through seemingly know what is happening near Karthad raises some questions about how long-distance magical communication works. Back in chapter 1, Jynad tells Aneia that she will contact Aneia by falcon. That line suggests that even for aether mages, non-magical birds are still the best means of long-distance communication. Now, though, Torginal seems to be able to instantly get information from Karthad, and is able to instantly send a message to those nearby. Maybe like warding against the Scorch, Torginal is using a spell that is not widely known even among aether mages. Not even Juda realized that Torg has that power.

The reconciliation between Juda and Lessar, as their secrets come into the open, brought a smile to my face.

Juda's ultimate explanation of Torginal's plan is at once both a satisfying conclusion to the story's longest-running mystery, and somewhat frustrating. Seyn has spent most of the first five chapters traveling the world trying to gather information. But, as it turns out, almost everything Seyn has uncovered is stuff Juda already knew, with the only exception being the page she tore out of the book last chapter. It almost feels like Seyn's entire journey was superfluous.

Granted, Seyn did accomplish some things. She found out about the artifact in the Scorch, she killed Karthad, and she discovered a new sun magic power. Perhaps most importantly, she was able to get Juda's trust.

Which brings us to what I think is Juda's defining flaw: she has trouble figuring out the right people to trust. She initially placed her trust in Torginal, and made it into his inner circle before realizing what kind of a person he really was. Then Juda switched to Merynna's camp, thinking that the rogue aether mage was the only one who could protect her from Torg, when in fact Juda would have been much better going to Jynad instead.

In chapter 2, when Juda and Seyn first met, J gave significant hints as to what was going on (she said the guy she used to work for was interested in using earth magic to manipulate the Scorch, but was not himself an earth mage). If she had had a magical means of knowing she could trust Seyn, then she could have spilled everything right then. Seyn would have been able to send all the information via falcon to Jynad before Torginal even became aware of Seyn, and the rest of the story would have gone very differently.

Regardless of how we got here, the protagonists now know Torginal's secrets. The story of figuring out who is responsible for the ghosts is done: now Seyn must change course to exposing and stopping Torginal.

Anyhow, that's probably enough rambling about chapter 5. Onward to Chapter 6!
Oh dear,
It's late I have not finished writing my thoughts on Chapter 5. I'll come back tomorrow and finish it.