Originally published in CGMagazine
by Kelly Hunter
After seven wild-fiery fantastical years, Game of Thrones is finally coming to an end - begging the question: what comes next? In the true style of prolific world-builders like Carroll, Tolkien, and Rowling (just to name a fortunate few), George R.R. Martin crafted a divinely intricate universe, populating it with such enormous feeling and splendour – both on the page and on screen – it’s hard to imagine anything else taking its place. And while new developments like Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series, or Netflix’s The Witcher are certainly contenders, there are few imagined universes elaborate and diverse enough to rise to the challenge.
Enter: The Knight Guardians of Relativity, a series of comics adapted from a novel by award-winning HarperCollins Novelist Gareth R. Roberts.
Futuristic, complex, and endlessly imaginative, The Knight Guardians series (KGOR for short) introduces you to the Relativity Universe (RU): a distinct, character-driven epic set in a future reshaped by time travel after the fallout of a 4th world war. Comprised of four comic books – New Humanz, Weathered Spirit, Sayyida, and the overarching story Knight Guardians of Relativity – tied together by the dystopian future in which they all exist, the Relativity Universe introduces us to a 200-year history, filled with stories of paranormal activity, artificial intelligence, futuristic pirates, cyborgs, time travel, and much more.
Much like Game of Thrones, the world of RU is a conglomerate of unique worlds, populated by ethnically, politically, and religiously diverse characters intertwining in delicate and often dangerous ways, always working to forward their goals, be it the welfare of their family, the world, or their own self-interest. With some city-states blossoming into a self-sustaining democracy, while others fall to tyranny and feudalism over the span of the story’s 200-year history, the RU is always in conflict, offering a wealth of interesting characters, emotional journeys, and exciting action.
Brought to the brink of extinction by a series of cataclysmic time travel wars, the world of the Relativity Universe is reborn in the 23rd century, separated into six city-states of varying wealth, political ideals, and opportunity. United by a common goal of peace, the city-states band together to destroy their time machines, leaving only one intact, which they agree will be protected by the Knight Guardians – an elite team of men and women tasked with preventing future leaders from ever using time travel again.
If there’s one thing GoT excels at, it’s the never-ending family drama we all love and sometimes cringe (see: Red Wedding) to watch. An enticing, fantastical universe is driven by these relationships, with powerful bonds forged by loyalty, love, power, and (often) hostility – the worlds we emotionally invest in are centered on the people who fill them and give them meaning.
The Relativity Universe is wholly defined by its exceptional relationships, relationships which ultimately shape the fabric of its space and time. In New Humanz, we are introduced to Riley, a mother who – with her daughter Sadie – is sucked into a temporal vortex and ends up in the city- state of Turigus, 200 years later. In the process Sadie is literally ripped to pieces, and has to undergo painful robotic surgery just to survive. Riley thus becomes a single immigrant mother, lost in time, who finds herself in a strange land and in care of a disabled daughter – one who requires a new bioengineered body from the mysterious New Humanz Corporation. Risking everything, including her daughter’s safety and her own life, Riley’s story explores what it means to be human in a world that no longer values our humanity.
In Weathered Spirit, we follow Jenna – a woman shaped by the grieved disappearance of her mother at an early age – who is pursued by a banshee, stalking her with its terrifying presence. A supernatural mash-up of classic ghost stories and Jessica Jones, Jenna is a no-BS, independent protagonist, reluctant to let anyone in. It’s only when she opens up to her cousin Alice, who shares the same supernatural gifts, that her journey begins – helping the ghosts of the 23rd century (some of them casualties of the 4th world war) to move on.
Sayyida continues the feminist mash up thread, only this time it’s an RU take on the kick-ass 16th century female pirate Sayyida al-Hurrah, who dominated the Mediterranean in partnership with the Portuguese pirate Barbossa (whom you may have hears of in that other pirate movie franchise). In the 23 rd century, Sayyida is a refugee from the Middle Eastern city-state of Siraf, on a mission from the Mad King to find the crucial element of building a new time machine: the Hadron Converter. It’s a swashbuckling adventure that recalls the sea-faring Greyjoys in GoT, but with better costumes and a sci-fi edge that makes old tropes new again.
Which brings us to the lynchpin property in the RU universe, The Knight Guardians of Relativity. Beginning with the death of the eldest Knight Aaran Seth, this epic storyline concerns the breakdown of the decades-old peace between the city-states, as a new temporal arms race is ignited which threatens to result in a Fifth Great War that could finally extinguish humanity.
Seth’s daughter Ania, a military doctor who wanted nothing to do with her father’s work, is nonetheless forced into taking over the leadership of the group in order to prevent the RU’s uber-villain – a scar-faced violent ne’er-do-well named Zentner van Heerden – from being the first to obtain a Hadron Converter, which he plans to use as his route to world domination.
With Knight Guardian characters drawn from every city-state, this building block of the Relativity Universe has the potential tell global stories on multiple platforms (with adaptations already being prepared for both a limited TV series and VR), and interact with the other three books in a way that even GoT can’t do – stretching decades in both directions, with interconnected storylines weaved throughout.
All of the dynamic characters in the Relativity Universe are connected, whether by allegiances, proximity, happenstance, or deeper relationships they later come to understand, making the RU a deeply compelling and sophisticated world. With an exceptionally built world, teeming with unique detail and character, the possibilities for new stories is endless, making RU the perfect replacement obsession after Game of Thrones’ ice-and-fiery swan song.
And though it’s sad to say goodbye to the fantasy titan that ruled the silver screen for nearly a decade, it’s clear that there are exciting universes waiting in the wing, and with all the wonder, danger, and heart of George R.R. Martin’s magnum opus, the Relativity Universe is more than ready to make its debut.
Preview Relativity Universe comics online at KnightGuardians.com