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Claymore #2
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Written by maehara   
Tuesday, 17 June 2008 16:00
ClaymoreClaymores are all well & good when they have their yoma abilties to help them - put them in a situation where all they have to work with are human guile and instinct, and are they really quite so useful? We're about to find out, as Clare must tackle a yoma that terrorising a place where Claymores really shouldn't tread...

5 - Darkness in Paradise, Part I
Clare and Raki's latest destination is the town of Rabona, a holy town where anything unnatural is forbidden. That includes Claymores, so the pair have taken to passing themselves off as brother and sister, travelling and selling antiques left to them by their late father - it's easier than explaining what they're doing there. Clare's also having to take pills to supress her abilities - that changes her eyes back to their natural colour, but also means she loses the ability to sense yoma at a distance. The joys of covert ops. The target is a yoma that's been picking off the town's priests, but without her abilities, will Clare be able to uncover it..?

6 - Darkness in Paradise, Part II
On her way back from the Cathderal, Clare had a run-in with the local militia - they weren't able to identify her then, but when two more men are killed by a yoma shortly afterwards, the militia come looking for her and Raki, and one of the guards she'd fought is among those who search their room. It's only some quick thinking by Raki that diverts suspicion from them, but it's clear that someone believes that Clare is a Claymore and is just looking for proof. Later, Clare returns to the cathedral to begin looking for clues to the yoma's true identity - she's sure it's one of the cathedral monks or guards, but that still leaves over 10 people for her to narrow down...

7 - Darkness in Paradise, Part III
With her senses dulled by the pills she's taking to hide her powers, Clare's at a disadvantage when the yoma strikes, and has difficulty keeping it at bay - and having to protect the two guardsmen who followed her isn't making her job any easier. The distraction of having to do that soon proves her undoing, as the yoma is able to get an attack past her defences and leave her seriously wounded. The creature is forced to retreat when the local militia arrive in force, leaving Clare in the care of Galk - the soldier who had been so keen to uncover her true identity, but now that he owes her his life, he's prepared to do what he can to help - but her wounds may be too much for even her to survive...

8 - Darkness in Paradise, Part IV
At Clare's request, Father Vincent summons all of the cathedral's priests and monks to the central hall, where over many objections Clare plans to examine them for signs of being yoma. She's also aware that she's in no condition to fight it, so the cathedral guard have been given strict instructions: once she identifies the yoma, they're to lance him immediately, even if that means killing her with it. For some of the guard, that's an appropriate death for an unnatural half-monster - but when none of the people she examines seem to be the yoma, things begin to turn ugly..

9 - Darkness in Paradise, Part V
Raki had been left alone in the cathedral crypt - away from the others, where Clare had assumed he would be safe. Unfortunately for him, the yoma has been taking the form of a dead body, and has been hiding out in the crypt, leaving him first in line when it awakens. Clare and Galk reach him just in time to save him from a premature end, but this yoma is a powerful one, and even with help Clare realises her chances of victory aren't good...

Rabona have banned Claymores as being unnatural, a sin against God, so it's shameful situation for the priest that hired Clare - for hiring a Claymore and bringing one to God's cathedral in the first place, but also because Clare is less interested in self-preservation and more interested in the welfare of others (Raki, in this case) than the priest himself is. Just to prove that you can't judge a book by its cover, and that Clare isn't the monster that her PR would have you belive.

The full volume is taken up by the one story, from Clare's initial investigations, through a few abortive confrontations, before the main battle begins near the end of the book. It's neatly self-contained, and as such doesn't feel so much like a comic - there's an ending to the tale and no cliffhanger leaving you gagging for the next volume. That's a good thing, as there's nothing as annoying as having to wait for the next volume, and forgetting half the story in the meantime.

Clare shows here that her human instincts are just as strong and useful as her yoma abilities - she's worked hard to keep her humanity intact, and that server her well both in dealing with others in the town, and in eventually figuring out where the yoma is hiding. Through all this, Raki again serves very little purpose, other than to help Clare show her human side. and to act as unwitting bait for the yoma when its hiding place is eventually revealed. I'd like to see more made of him, so he can become something more than a plot device or someone for Clare to mother. It's still early days, so I haven't written him off as a complete waste of space yet.

The story also does a good job of showing just how scandalised or outraged 'normal' humans can be at the existence of Claymores, and the hypocrisy that goes along with that - you can throw insults or harrass them as much as you like, yet it's still okay to call on their services when a yoma comes to town. There are some parallels to modern-day life in there that probably shouldn't take too much explaining, and that's another part of Claymore that I'm liking - underneath the action & guts, there's a small sense of social responsibility at work.

Another good volume, then. This book builds on the good introduction that the forst volume provided, and fleshes out a little more about the social state of the world that Clare and Raki live in while still providing plenty of action along the way. Definitely an enjoyable read.

Rating - ****

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