Sherbourg, capital of the colony of Aradie. 1686. The month of Barebranch...The snow came early that year.Snow By Night : A Tale Of Colonial Fantasy
is a Web Comic
first started up by Eric Menge in 2010.
The tale take place in Sherbourg, capital of the Saronnean colony of Aradie. Of focus is a pair of rooks, high-minded Jassart LeBlanc and laid-back Blaise Dansereau. While carrying out a well-planned burglary on a Barebranch night, the two discover that their intended quarry has already been stolen by a Phantom Thief
, with the only clue being some snow in the chest that held the prize. The two later find out that the thief has been stealing from the wards of various rooks — a big no-no according to the rook code — and promptly throwing the treasures aside.
Jassart and Blaise decide that they can't have a rival rook upstaging their own ventures, particularly not one who shows such disdain for and/or ignorance of the art of theft. The two decide that the mystery thief must be caught, with their main lead being the thief's penchant for snatching items with heart motifs.
After getting assistance from a wealthy benefactor, the duo set up a trap for the thief. They end up catching their prey, who is revealed to be Snow By Night, a female manitou (or etheric being) who has taken on physical form in order to search for a heart and know what it means to have human feelings. With this magical being now acquainted with them, Jassart and Blaise strike a deal with her: help them with their thieving missions, and they'll help her find her heart.
The comic has also featured several vignettes that touch upon the wider world and mythology.
The story is updated every Monday and Wednesday, while the Almanac is updated every Friday. The first strip is here
, the latest is here
, and the Almanac is here
Tropes in this work include:
- All There in the Manual: The story has an extensive almanac that deals with commerce, people, culture, places, history and science and updates on a weekly basis.
- An Ice Person: Winter and his daughter Snow By Night, with even her physical body being made of snow.
- Art Evolution: Thanks to the change of artist since chapter 9.
- Art Shift: Every short vignatte has a different art style.
- Blade Below the Shoulder: Snow's preferred weapon, naturally made of ice.
- Character Title: Snow By Night is the name of the Phantom Thief.
- Darker and Edgier / Downer Ending: Chapter 8, Jassart betrays Snow-By-Night and Blaise's trust, by having Bertrande the Alchemist attempt to drain Snow of her Aether. In aftermath of the fight that occurred, kegs of nearby gunpowder were accidentally ignited, destroying the Alchemist guild shop, killing Bertrande, leaving severe burns and injuries on Jassart, while Blaise is on the run and no one's sure if Snow has survived with enough aether left to return.
- Chapter 9 is focusing on the aftermath of the events above, with Blaise now a wanted man, facing the gallows if he's caught, and punished for crimes that were not his fault. On top of that, he's now got to deal with the spirits of the wilderness, with some benevolent, and others, very much less so.
- Deadpan Snarker: Jassart, often to those who annoy him.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Aradie is a Quebec-like territory on the "New World" continent of Everique. Sherbourg resembles Montreal. It all belongs to the pseudo-French nation of Saronne (across the ocean in Japethe, Europe).
- Fictionary: Snow By Night has a good number of unique words that have a vague resemblance to French, as well as normal English words that have been redefined to correspond to a different concept. Word of God has said that as further regions are explored, that words based on Native American tribes, as well as others, such as Dutch, will begin to appear.
- Five-Man Band:
- Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Mathilde's fans.
- God Is Good: Giavere, the patron spirit of Saronne and Aradie by extension, gave to men art and science. And it's also draining cities out of their Aether.
- Grim Up North: In the Feathers and Frost Vignette, Winter is potrayed as a humanoid who makes an annual journey down from what is presumably Corthis' equivalent of the Arctic Circle.
- Hurricane of Puns: Blaise, to Mathilde while outside her window.
Mathilde: Blaise, what are you doing?
Blaise: I was in the area and thought I'd drop by. May I come in?
Blaise: Please, Mathilde, don't leave me hanging.
Mathilde: One more pun and you're getting the vase.
Blaise: Awww. Why are you so on edge?
- I Am X, Son of Y: Snow introduces herself to the Liranequois' hunters as "Snow-By-Night, daugter of Winter". This is very significant since the Liranequois are more respectful to the manitou and she's daughter of the cruelest of seasons.
- Indian Maiden: Snow is a somewhat atypical example. While she's not human, she still wears moccasins, has an affinity for nature, and has to be taught in the ways of (civilized) humans.
- It's All About Me: Jassert is this, wherever he recognizes it or not, as he only thinks in how Blaise's situation with Snow affect his plans.
- Jaw Drop: The three rooks chasing Blaise each have one when Blaise uses his Le Parkour to evade them.
- Lack of Empathy: Snow by Night, and manitou in general. Snow being called "heartless" by a man she met and died in her lake is what drives her to find a heart for herself and understand what he said when he told her he loved her.
- Le Parkour: Blaise does this to evade three disgruntled rooks. His pursuers are rather taken aback.
- Loan Shark: Or in this case, Loan Crow, as in Chugan, the first crow, and an intermediate manitou spirit himself. He offers Snow the amethyst that act as her eyes, and source of her physical manifestation's power. The price? Snow needs to bring him baubbles and treasure worth 10 times the value of the amethyst stones within one year, or he claims her. He also tries collecting on it earlier than expected, manifesting in his totem form in the wilderness that Blaise is wandering in his attempt to revive an aether drained Snow-By-Night
- Love Is a Weakness: Jassert starts to worry that Blaise is losing focus the more time he spends with Snow, as he can tell that his feelings for the manitou are clouding his mind.
- Money Fetish: Jassert was born in poverty so his thievery is in order to get as much money as possible in order to live good the rest of his life.
- Mix And Match Creature: The chimerae.
- Nature Spirit: Manitou They are beings infused with 3 of the 4 Alchemic elements, but are always lacking the element opposite of their most major element. Snow-By-Night is one such Manitou, being the spirit of a northern lake, as is her dad, Father Winter (and is huge given his power, being one of 4 Great Spirits responsible for bringing about the changes of seasons in Everique)
- Never My Fault: Jassart is accused of being this kind of person by Mathilde. She's right
- Phantom Thief: Snow By Night.
- Pinocchio Syndrome: Downplayed. The Nature Spirit wants a heart in order to understand human feelings.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The cool-headed Jassart mainly wears blue to match his eyes, whereas the wilder Blaise mainly wears red to hide the stains.
- She's Back: Chapter 9 closes with a revived Snow-By-Night, wearing new cloths.
- Scenery Porn: The opening view of Sherbourg is quite luscious.
- Ship Tease: Chapter 10 implies a close relationship between Jassart and Vivienne, but thanks to hidden hints, it's implied that Jassart is not on it out of romantic feelings.
- Soul Jar: The amethysts that act as Snow's eyes contains her spirit.
- Unicorns Are Sacred: Giavere is often portrayed as a graceful white unicorn. Snow, being a spirit herself, sees a different image.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: How Jassart justifies his actions of trying to have Snow's Aether drained. According to Bertande, it would've been enough to create medicines to heal a lot of people. Also because he feared that Snow was becoming too dangerous to have around Blaise.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Jassart in Chapter 8. Jassart has managed in that one chapter alone, managed to betray Mathilde, Blaise, and Snows' trusts. He also tried to have Snow killed and stabbed Blaise. And that's before we factor in the collateral damage of his actions.
- Why Did You Make Me Cut you?: Jassart's accusation to Blaise when he tries to fend Blaise's rescue attempt of Snow from Bertande with his knife, and cut his arm. Blaise immediately calls out his now former friend on this, and points out how insane such an accusation is
- World Building: The focus of the Almanac; bits of it leak into the main story when the plot demands it.