A close look at Inverloch

February 24, 2010
I understand that a writer/artist has free reign to make a story any way they choose, especially if it’s for themselves. But as an outside reader, it’s no fun to vomit up something that tasted so good.

I suppose you could say my article has plot spoilers, but I think it’s more fitting to say my article is a plot warning. I suppose you could also say my view is “skewed” by my Christianity, but this is way beyond me: “At the end of the story, there is a main plot-twist that most fans of the comic hated” (WikiFur). The ending is hardly a plot twist as it is a plot train wreck.

My First Read of a Graphic Novel

Inverloch was my first time to read a graphic novel. To my dismay, it might be the worst. I’ve seen a lot of movies and played a few games. I admit that I haven’t read many regular novels, but I don’t think anything has completely let me down as much as Inverloch.

I don’t doubt that some people liked or even loved the story. Maybe even you figured it out before the end and still enjoyed it. If so, you’re probably missing a big part of the picture concerning prejudice and racial segregation.

I like the style and layout. I like the few numbers of panels per page and the backgrounds. I love the characters (or I did). But being deceived from the very beginning and learning the truth at the end really breaks the scales. Learning the truth is a good thing, but it hurts to learn the basis of the story is built on a lie.

The Buildup

Official Description

Let’s read the description straight from the site (also see description on Kidjutsu):

“The story of Inverloch centers around a young man named Acheron, from a horned wolf-like race called the da’kor. After a chance encounter with an elf, he finds himself setting out on a seemingly innocent mission - that of trying to locate Kayn’dar, another elf who has been missing for the past twelve years.

Meeting up with new friends and companions along the way, he quickly begins to learn that the world is not quite the peaceful place he believed it to be - embroiled with prejudice, racial segregation, and hidden danger. And the truth behind Kayn’dar’s disappearance is something none of the party would ever expect…”

Everything the novel seems to build up is essentially thrown out or never existed in the first place. Notice it mentions prejudice and racial segregation. This is built on early in the story.

Indicators of Prejudice and Racial Segregation

Here are a few excerpts (try to follow the context):
  • “We have something on an undeserved reputation…” (Ch. 1, p. 9, panel 3)
  • “Oh! It’s just a cute forest animal.” later followed by “But da’kor… they’re horrid and vicious monsters.” (Ch. 1, p. 25, panel 1 (&3) and p. 26, panel 3)
  • “You’re… not what I expected a da’kor to be like. I mean no offence, but everyone says how brutish and ill-tempered they are.” (Ch. 2, p. 8, panel 1&2)
  • “Humans and elves hate us, fear us, despise us. All that does is breed the same feelings from the da’kor toward everyone else in return. …” (Ch. 2, p. 19, panel 1 (&3))
  • “Shiara… I can’t change what I am…” (Ch. 2, p. 22, panel 3)
  • “Naturally, the elves decided to blame the da’kor.” (Ch. 3, p. 8, panel 3)

What makes a person?

A far as I understand, a person’s personality makes them… them, their soul, their spirit. … You’re lead to believe Acheron is a da’kor (Ch. 1, p. 9). The reality is, the Acheron you’re introduced to is Kayn’dar, an elf in a da’kor’s body (Ch. 24, p. 11±1). The real Acheron at this time is actually a da’kor in an elf’s body, Kayn’dar’s body.

Acheron’s Mother and the Other Da’kor

Did Acheron’s mother really know all along?

It’s strange that Acheron’s mother herself seems oblivious that “Acheron” is actually Kayn’dar, leading us into complete deception (Ch. 2, p. 3). She also says “You have such a kind heart, Acheron,” (Ch. 3, p. 12, panel 5), but supposedly she knows he’s not really his son. Is she trying to continue Kayn’dar’s deception?

Acheron’s mother also says “There never was or will be any other da’kor like you,” (Ch. 3, p. 13, panel 2). Well, that’s certainly true of the body anyway, the only da’kor attribute, (and maybe some memories retained by the real Acheron). But the actual person isn’t a da’kor, it’s an elf who’s name is Kayn’dar.

Where did her hopes lie?

Consider that if Acheron’s mother did indeed praise “Acheron” knowing he was Kayn’dar, was her faith in the elves? It certainly seems like it (Ch. 24, p. 22, panel 4). I don’t think it could be said that she had any faith or hope in her own kind, the da’kor.

Did she regard her real son?

We later see her “lament” her son’s brutal death: “He was always such a foolish boy…” (Ch. 24, p. 23, panel 1). The supposed irrevocable love between a mother and her child is severed. She simply dismisses her authentic son as a fool without pity. She was even presented with options (Ch. 3, p. 15), but didn’t seem to care. Even Varden sheds a few tears, for his father (Ch. 11, p. 30 & 31).

So, the elves gain leverage through Kayn’dar who is rightfully praised as Acheron’s mother admits, “I was expecting to raise a rude and conceited child, but…” (Ch. 24, p. 23, panel 2-4). Unfortunately, this way by which the da’kor could change their minds about elves, is limited to Acheron’s mother and a select few da’kor. It’s interesting to note that these da’kor initially did this to save their own race (Ch. 24, p. 23 & 24).

Acheron’s mother seems to care about the da’kor as a whole (Ch. 24, p. 24), but it seems her son was just one of the numbers, nothing special.


Why was Acheron foolish in the first place? … I’ll let the subtitle infer what you probably thought I had in mind. However, it doesn’t seem that Acheron’s childhood was really that bad (Ch. 2, p. 13). This brings into question whether the author actually knew which direction she wanted to go.

Is there hope for the da’kor?

Maybe if the da’kor, even a few, changed themselves and stopped killing humans (Ch. 1, p. 12), they wouldn’t loose their numbers to humans (Ch. 24, p. 24). What better example could be set than one willing to risk life and limb to save one of another race, in public? Since “Acheron” traveled, his quest became known, his reputation was being built (Ch. 5, p. 24, Ch. 8, p. 19-22, Ch. 9, p. 20).

What a lesson it would be for those of other races (along with the da’kor themselves) to learn what this “da’kor” did (or could have done) to save the elves, an act of selflessness. Acheron could have corrected a misdeed of his own people. But when it’s discovered that “Acheron” is an elf, (essentially reflecting an elven personality), imagine the mindset of all the elves who are prejudice, not Kayn’dar. I can almost hear some conclude, continuing the stereotypes against themselves:
  • “Oh, Acheron was really an elf. It all makes sense now. No wonder he was so kind.”
  • “Acheron was really an elf? The world needs to know he wasn’t really a dreadful da’kor.”
  • “Does Kayn’dar really think there’s hope for the real da’kor? He never really was one of them.”

What about the author?

The one thing that really seems confounded is the real Acheron himself, living in a elven body, calling himself Silvah. He didn’t even seem to recognize his own body. This seems to be vaguely hinted (Ch. 18, p. 7-10, p. 24; Ch. 20, p. 19), but it also enables the author to take an undecided direction, even up to the end of chapter 23. But even given that, why would he trust Neirenn, who he knows to be against (or at least suspect) him, to shout “Behind you!” essentially causing him to destroy his own body (Ch. 23, p. 23 & 24)?

Sarah Ellerton supposedly wrote the script before the drawing process. She said in an interview with Janet Houck, “The script hasn’t changed too much - the plot is basically the same…” But then she goes on to say, “The only major change I made since the first draft of the script was the ending, which was almost completely rewritten just before I started drawing.” (Inverloch’s Sarah Ellerton Tells All)

As far as I understand, usually the ending determines the conclusion of the whole plot. While most of the original script may be essentially the same, it’s meaning can change dramatically. It’s hard to rewrite the end without considering the whole. But then you’re left to wonder, what was the original ending? We may never know.

It’s interesting to note that her general inspiration seems to stem from Disney animation features. She also says, “I love simple, light-hearted fantasy stories more than brooding war-centered epics,” (Inverloch’s Sarah Ellerton Tells All). I don’t know about everyone else, but when I discovered “Acheron” wasn’t Acheron at all and his own mother lacked pity for the death of her own son, my heart fell into a pit (so-to-speak).

Driving a Wedge

The resolution reached doesn’t seem to stop or even slow the continuing prejudice and racial segregation against the da’kor or the elves. Unfortunately, it seems to compound it. In essence, the conclusion of the novel gives me no good reason to necessarily dispute the prejudice associated with the da’kor initially introduced. It’s so far from being resolved, it actually gives me a basis for it (back at ground zero).

Acheron’s father’s generation didn’t seem to change (apart from Acheron’s mother and a few others). Acheron or his brother showed no change. Is there any example for the new generation? … I think I’ll steer clear of the da’kor knowing there’s none like Kayn’dar, the elf.

My Concluding Thoughts

I’d rather Acheron had been a martyr that was the catalyst to restoring “Kayn’dar’s” memory (as it seemed) than continue the reputation of his race as an untrusted people (as in Inverloch’s reality). … This would mean a change of Neirenn’s character as initially expected (Ch. 10, p. 28).

But aye, it’s a cruel world now innit? Why else would the elf and human who embarked on Kayn’dar’s journey go steady to a life of crime (Ch. 25, p. 25)? Who’s to say Acheron’s mother isn’t really a human?

I will soon read Batman: The Dark Night Returns and Kingdom Come as part of my sci-fi & fantasy literature class. I doubt my experience will be at all bad compared to Inverloch. I know that I have also disappointed readers by discontinuing my own Set Apart series, but I didn’t destroy what I planned to build up. I admit my failure to plan properly.