Sunday, February 13, 2005

 

The Ancestral Trail: Introduction

The beginning of The Ancestral Trail doesn't begin in the first issue, but rather through a four-panel folder. When closed, the "front page" of the folder displays the series' name and a passage of prophecy (displayed below); such passages will appear in each issue of the series. When the center fold is opened the two closed outer arms form the picture of a dark, sinister mask against a bloody red background:



This is the "face" of the series' villain, who shall be named in a little bit. When the final two arms are flipped and the folder is completely opened, the beginning of the story is displayed.

Story:

When he who is the Chosen One
Shall tread upon the Ancient Path
And battle there to overcome
The Forces of the Dark
Then shall the Seven be restored
And even banished from this world


So begins the story of Richard, a young boy from our world who is fairly ordinary save for one thing: he has two different colored eyes, one grey and one green. He never really gave much thought to his eyes outside of the constant teasing he received because of them, but one night, after being late to getting home, something happens which will change how he views himself forever.

During his journey home, Richard slips and falls into a hole, causing him to black out. When he awakens, he finds himself in the Ancestral World, where he meets an old man named Golan peering down at him. Golan explains to Richard that the Ancestral World is being destroyed by a being known as the Evil One, and that the remaining defenses against his sinister power are falling. Golan, apparently, is a Guardian and the Keeper of the Life Force, which is contained in the Tree of Life through seven Life Force pods, with each pod possessing a different Life Force. Six of the seven pods have been stolen, and thus six Guardians have been captured. Only Golan's pod remains, but he is much weakened.



Golan informs Richard that he must recover the stolen pods and rescue the captured Guardians, but Richard wants to know why he, an ordinary boy, must complete an extraordinary task. Golan states that Richard is the Chosen One, a stranger who sees in two lights (referring to Richard's eyes) and the one foreseen in prophecy who will destroy the Evil One. Naturally, Richard only wishes to go home, but Golan says that is not possible.

To aid the Chosen One in his journey, Golan gives Richard two items: a tunic that will conceal him seven times when the hood is up, and an amulet. He also leaves Richard with the cryptic words that the prophecy must be fulfilled by the twenty-sixth day, and that there will be one to guide Richard. With those words, Golan disappears.

Though scared, Richard begins walking through the dark forest that surrounds the Tree of Life. Then, suddenly, he runs into a man crossing his path; to Richard's surprise, the man has a pig-like face.



Richard asks the pig-faced man if he is his guide, and the man responds by giving his name, Orkan, and asks why Richard needs a guide. Richard explains to Orkan his quest to recover the stolen pods, and Orkan, who had managed to escape a fierce battle and is now looking for survivors, decides to travel with Richard. With that, the two of them set off.

Characters:

The characters of The Ancestral Trail are numerous, but the most important characters are compiled into a collection of playing cards used for one of the series' unique card games. Below are several brief descriptions of The Ancestral Trail's characters with their respective playing cards.



Richard is an ordinary boy from our world whose most distinctive feature is that his eyes are different colored - one eye is grey, the other green. He is also the Chosen One, he who will save the Ancestral World from destruction at the hands of the Evil One. He is initially scared to take up such a huge responsibility, but throughout his journey he will discover things about himself that he never knew.



Golan is the Keeper of the Life Force. He is the sole Guardian that remains after the other six were captured by the Evil One's forces. He is also the Keeper of the Pod of Wisdom, which is the only Life Force Pod that hasn't been stolen. Golan's power has weakened greatly because of the destruction around him, and he looks to the Chosen One to save his world from the Evil One.



Orkan is of the common beasts, a race of beings with the bodies of man and the faces of animals; in Orkan's case, he possesses the face of a pig. He managed to escape the "final battle" and was looking for survivors when he bumps into Richard. He decides to help Richard in his quest to recover the stolen pods while continuing his search. Orkan is a strong warrior and a trustworthy friend, and the journey ahead will lead to a destiny he never expected.



The Evil One is the all-powerful being that is ravaging the Ancestral World with his evil power and his armies of darkness. Very little is known of the Evil One, but the image of his grotesque mask is well known and feared by anyone who opposes him.



The Life Force Pods hold the life forces that bind the Ancestral World together. Each pod is protected by a Guardian, and each pod possesses a different life force. When the Evil One came, his minions stole six of the seven pods, resulting in their respective Guardians to be captured, and their whereabouts are unknown. It's now up to the Chosen One to find this pods and rescue their Guardians from the Evil One's clutches.

Comments:

The story of The Ancestral Trail doesn't take long to get things moving. There's no backstory on Richard, no lingering on how he was "transported" to the Ancestral World...nothing. He simply arrives, is told who he is and what he must do, and sets out to do it. Usually, this isn't a good idea in storytelling, but in The Ancestral Trail it's all right. The series' main focus is on all the different monsters and creatures that Richard will encounter during his travels, so padding the beginning with backstory and exposition is not a good idea. And let's not forget that this series was originally written for children.

At first glance, the story looks pretty derivative: an outsider arrives in a strange land and is chosen to be that land's savior. On top of that, he must both find several sacred items and rescue several powerful beings. And the names and titles of some of the characters are pretty ordinary, most notably as "the Chosen One" and "the Evil One"; even "Richard" is a pretty common name. However, it can be argued that The Ancestral Trail did this intentionally. According to this article (do not read if you don't want important plot points spoiled for you!), the story can be seen as a metaphor for growing up, how his journey is a rites of passage and how he matures as his journey continues. Using vague names like "the Evil One" and "the Chosen One" can be used to help the reader identify more with the characters, if not insert himself into the story.

Or The Ancestral Trail could just be a very good story. You make the call.

Quotes:

"The grey eye sees the dark side of life, the green eye sees good. Only you can weigh the balance."
-Golan


Go to #1 - The Moss Beast

Comments:
This blog is outstanding. I was only 4 years old when The Ancestral Trail was published, but I have vivid memories of my father reading them to me each week. To this day, I am the proud owner of all but one element of the series: the introduction! I've always wondered what it was like, and now I know. Cheers.
 
I used to have the full set when i was younger but lost them as i grew up, does anyone know where i can get a new set.
 
Hi there, i vividly remember this and now with two young children myself would love to be able to collect the full set so they to can enjoy just like i did this wonderful story. Does anyone know how i could collect it???
 
Hi, I have a complete set with all the games etc that came with each issue and am thinking of selling it but have no idea of its value. Its in excellent condition as was only read once and has since been sat in the loft so just dusty. Does anybody know what my set would be worth? Thanks
 
Cheers for putting this up. My brother bought a few of these when i was young, and i read 'em. I had no money, so when he stopped buyin' 'em i never seen them again.
 
Hi Sharon I purchased the first set for $50 dollars but it was missing an issue. I would like to discuss the possibility of buying the second part of the series from you.
Cheers
 
Outstanding effort. I too was read these by my father when I was younger, I'd look forward to each new issue with bated breath! Thank you for taking the time and effort to upload a major part of my childhood's imaginary landscape!
 
Awesome work, so glad that people like you are helping keep these memories alive
 
I've never seen anything else like the Ancestral Trail. I collected it devotedly and, being the hoarder I am, I still have every single issue, card and map piece. As a fan of mythology, I was always partial to the cards that describe the myths that the Ancestral Trail's creatures were based on.
 
I loved this series of magazines as a kid. This blog is fantastic. I would like to get it all again as over the years I've lost them, if anyone in uk is selling at a decent price i would definitely be interested.
 
Hi there! I need the completed map with the puzzle pieces. Do you have this? If so I would like to buy it from you for a good price! Best wishes, Leo
 
Hi Sharon! I need the completed map with the puzzle pieces. If you have this I would like to buy it from you for a good price! Best wishes, Leo
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
Hi! Do you have the completed map with all the puzzle pieces at all? If so I would like to buy it off you for a great price. Best wishes, Leo
 
Hi there! I need the completed map with the puzzle pieces. Do you have this? If so I would like to buy it from you for a good price! Best wishes, Leo
 
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