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Battle Born: Lapis Lazuli

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  310 ratings  ·  60 reviews
From the bestselling author of The White Donkey, a heartbreaking and visceral graphic novel set against the stark beauty of Afghanistan's mountain villages that examines prejudice and the military remnants of colonialism.

In this hotly anticipatednew work from Maximilian Uriarte, creator of the popular Terminal Lance comics and The White Donkey, tells a "thrillingly cinemat
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 28th 2020 by Little, Brown and Company
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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 ·  310 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Damn. I guess it takes a former Marine to write and draw a modern day war graphic novel. This is the story of a platoon of Marines sent to a remote region of Afghanistan to stop the Taliban from selling lapis lazuli, now classified as a conflict mineral. It turns into so much more when the sergeant grows a fondness for the people. It's gritty, visceral and full of emotion. I could even look past the long scenes that were untranslated from Arabic. The art is very solid although it can be difficul ...more
Jon Nakapalau
Maximilian Uriarte is one of the most original artist/writers in GN today. This heartbreaking tale of war and the cost it exacts from each individual is a powerful statement that gives overviews often neglected when groups see each other as the 'other' - and not as people: highest recommendation. ...more
Sep 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: afghanistan
An impressively visual and beautiful graphic novel set in the harsh, mountainous, cold, and snowy terrain of Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan. The Taliban arrive on horseback to a boy’s village and strong arm the natives. Then the U.S. Marines by helicopter and foot create a combat post out of nothing. Why? For 6,000 years, lapis lazuli, a semi-precious gem stone, has been found there and now the stone is soaked in blood. One of Afghanistan’s key exports, the Taliban have been illegally mining ...more
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: military
High-production quality, at times, stunningly gorgeous, thought-provoking literature and historical military history, packaged in an impressive graphic novel form.

Let's first move the elephant in the room out of the way. For better or worse, this is a dramatically different work product than Uriarte's popular and worthwhile, Terminal Lance: The White Donkey, The three biggest differences for this reader were (1) color/production quality, (2) text/prose d
Jun 22, 2020 rated it liked it
This graphic novel was made to be a movie. It has the strengths of action cinema (a propulsive plot with great combat and fight scenes; pathos; and a theme that grapples with current geopolitical issues through the lives of a platoon of charismatic American soldiers, Taliban terrorists, and the Afghani natives stuck in between) as well as the weaknesses (some of the characters are pretty one note sketches and the ending is relatively expected and sad).

**Thank you to the author, publisher, and Ne
Rod Brown
Sep 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
Hearts and minds vs. eye for an eye. This would probably make Jack Bauer fans happy, but in a time of concern about police brutality, a Marine committing war crimes in Afghanistan does not have much appeal for me. And that's too bad, because I really liked the first half of the book. ...more
Elizabeth A
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020, graphix
"Men have created all manner of ways to kill each other. The most violent wars in history were waged by the most "civilized" of nations, the victor always the one with the sharpest stick. Strip a man of his inventions and force him to defend himself with his bare hands, and you will see him as he really is: small and afraid."

This heavy graphic novel is beautifully illustrated, and that's what kept me reading until the end. It's a war story, set in Afghanistan, and the author tried to include eve
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it

Just wow. I downloaded this, and read it in one sitting, thinking I would just take one look at it, to see how it was. I usually don’t like stories set during war times, but the people were so interesting and distinct, and full of life, I had to know what would happen. I even pushed on when the Arabic wasn’t translated, because I figured we would know what was being said at one point.

War stories are gruesome. there is nothing that can be done about that, no matter when they take place, or wh
Jenn Adams
Wow. This was a visceral and stunning war story in a modern setting. Disclaimer that there is graphic violence and language, as you'd expect from such a scenario. Read it in one sitting and have already recommended to others.

Received eARC from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review
Edward Sullivan
A visually stunning, intense and visceral war story.
Josh Brynildsen
May 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
It’s always impressive when the creator does both the writing and the illustrating. And in this piece the illustration is particularly impressive. The use of color is powerful, especially when applied to the landscape. The pacing, while not necessarily consistent, ebbs and flows almost perfectly. And the images are just cartoony enough that when the good guy rips off the lower jaw of Taliban member with his bare hands it’s not overly repulsive.

The story is solid. Though the bad guy is too on th
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it
A gritty, violent story of clashes between American soldiers and foreigners you'd likely see in movies where American soldiers occupy other countries. This centers on a few characters, their costly mistakes, and the ultimate sense of loss and helplessness associated with war. ...more
Aug 25, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a well told and illustrated modern war story, but it feels as if the author has included just about every trope of the modern war story into the mix.

Women integrating into combat arms, a racist southerner who uses the 'N' word and wears a Confederate flag, civilians caught between US troops and their opponents, out of touch officer conflicting with troops on the ground. This story includes it all, and more, into the mix.

I still liked it despite all of this, and one more thing that I'll m
Roopkumar Balachandran
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
The artwork and story are so good I am not able to read as the graphic novel was given in epub format.
Oct 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: racism, war
This brief but beautiful graphic novel's tagline is "One Marine's Fight for the Heart of Afghanistan." It captures a short period at a COP high in the mountains and the Marines' interactions with each other, villagers, and the Taliban. Written by a veteran of several tours in Iraq, the book is imbued with experience. In a very few lines, Uriarte tries to address a whole host of social issues (racism, sexism, hierarchy, officer/NCO/enlisted relations, colonialism, anarchy, respect); it feels both ...more
J.D. DeHart
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Battle Born is rightly called cinematic. It is well drawn and a fine example of the graphic novel medium from Maximilian Uriarte. This book ranks as yet another work that shows the power graphic novels hold in telling visual stories and acts as a counternarrative to their assumed simplicity.
Wayne McCoy
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
'Battle Born: Lapis Lazuli' with story and art by Maximilian Uriarte is a graphic novel set in the recent Afghanistan conflict.

In the Sr-i-sang mountains, Lapis Lazuli is mined. The Taliban's interest in it has made it a conflict mineral. A group of Marines is sent in to the mountain area to stop the Taliban. The Marines make connections with people in the village, but that connection is costly. Now one Marine is faced with a choice between justice and revenge.

This graphic novel reads pretty swi
Jonathan Tennis
Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you're not familiar with his work, he draws the Terminal Lance cartoon. Read Terminal Lance: The White Donkey, his book about Iraq and thought I'd give this one a try. Well done. There were pages that I just stopped and stared at because of how incredible the art is. Storytelling is on par with the art. Worth the read. ...more
Nov 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
SIX STARS Maximilian Uriarte! Some spoilers....

Beautifully illustrated. Stunningly illustrated actually, and you know this by the fact that whole conversations took place in Arabic? Farsi? Dari?.. not sure, but anyway, I did not understand, but still understood and felt EVERYTHING happening in-frame. There were pages of art without words, or any new/significant movement... maybe just the squint of the eye, or the evidence of the wind blowing, but I FELT IT. Everything the character was thinking
Mandy Wultsch
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
This is a hefty book, a long graphic novel, but, as some pages are one panel, a quick read. I read it all in only one afternoon. The art is amazing. The entire book is in color that has a rich and deep palette.

I have also read The White Donkey, another graphic novel, and Terminal Lance, an online comic, both by the same author as this graphic novel. The White Donkey is serious while Terminal Lance is (usually) more lighthearted. (If you have not read either one, check them both out. I highly re
Mar 10, 2021 rated it liked it
(3.5/5) I've read most of Uriarte's other works, and this is probably the most striking divergence from them.

The story is a grunt's-eye level view of the war in Badakhshan, Afghanistan, told from the perspective of Marines who get tangled up in the Taliban's trade of lapis lazuli (commonly used in ultramarine pigments, the author notes). In contrast to Terminal Lance or The White Donkey, Battle Born is significantly more of an action thriller, with Uriarte himself describing it as something of a
Nov 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 01, 2022 rated it it was amazing
-Disclaimer: I won this book for free through Goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review.-

Simplistic yet quite complex.

This graphic novel was very immersive!
The geographical regions it is set in and the color schemes are well-thought-out. The plot was well-paced and organized. The book itself is great quality. And keeps you flipping the pages till the very end.

However, I had no emotional attachment to the characters. They all seemed to have their places in the story. But I felt it was
A retelling of the Conan trope, this visceral visual account of war, including the racism-driven colonialism, first female troops in combat, etc. and how these intersect...especially in the creation of the decades-long colonial destruction/state of war in Afghanistan, as well as the current state of illegal mining and trafficking of lapis lazuli in the Sar-i-Sang Valley (Militants make an estimated $20 million/year.). Though it read more as a character introduction than a plot-driven story, it w ...more
Molli B.
Good. Very good. The double-page spreads with no dialogue (of which there are many) are gorgeous. Just stunning. The plot itself is not...I'm not sure what the word is. I guess it's not very compelling—like, I don't think I'd read a whole book on just lapis lazuli and how it's become a conflict material, even though it is interesting. But the way Uriarte presents it and his art and the characters—all of that makes it a legit page-turner.

King is a great main character. He's complex and taciturn
Dann Todd
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you thought that Max's The White Donkey was good, then get ready. This new book is a tour de force view of the Marine Corps, the war in Afghanistan, and how there isn't any situation that is defined by a single feature.

The artwork is gorgeous. Pages will go by with subtle and meaningful shifts in the image that heighten the tension of the story without a single word on any page.

The dialog is tight and accurate. The story covers many aspects of life in general as well as life in the Corps in
Dec 23, 2020 rated it liked it
After receiving this book as a Goodreads giveaway I reflected on my own (involuntary) military service. This graphic novel portrays some of the best and worst of military service in a combat zone. It's more of a personal story rather than a sweeping tale. The artwork is good and some of the devices used (untranslated dialog in farsi/pashto, and vivid closeups) work to move the story along. I did not care for some of the use of full page illustrations or the use of the same or almost the same ima ...more
Mercer County Library System
Jul 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
A beautiful, moving, painful story. Set in Afghanistan, a platoon of Marines from diverse backgrounds are sent to a remote region to stop the Taliban from selling lapis lazuli, a bright blue starry stone now classified as a conflict mineral. It's about war, colonialism, racism, and what is deemed 'civilized.' The art is striking, with many double-page panels and occasional stretches with either no or untranslated dialogue. Uriarte uses the graphic format very well, conveying deep emotion with co ...more
Jessica Perez
Mar 06, 2022 rated it really liked it
If you want a full, human perspective on a often-ignored aspect of US operations in Afghanistan, give this book a read. Its themes are timeless and well-handled; the pacing and even the graphics are so cinematic that I would be stunned if this was never optioned for film.

Some (er, many) of the characters are so flat they reminded me of the paper they're written on, but that's a war-media trope and I wouldn't let it keep you from reading—the main character, Sergeant King, has enough depth to keep
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just wow. If you ended up here because you’ve loved the adventures of Abe and Garcia or because you love the Marine Corps, prepare yourself. Battle Born pulls no punches. The art is stunning. The story, though fictional, feels true in fundamental ways. The silences between panels do a lot of talking. If you buy this for your coffee table, you’d better make space in your head too since Sgt King will be taking up residence there for a long time.
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