The Lion of Rora

The Lion of RoraThe Lion of Rora
Written by: Christos Gage and Ruth Fletcher Gage
Illustrated by: Jackie Lewis
Publisher: Oni Press
Format: Softcover, 6 x 9, 184 pages, Black and White, $24.99
ISBN: 978-1-62010-248-0

The story of Joshua Janavel, "The Lion of Rora," is perhaps one of the most noteworthy and significant historical inspirations to any people desiring to secure their freedom, including the men and women who led the American Revolution. When a tyrannical ruler takes one last fatal step against the religious freedom of Janavel's Waldensian friends and family an unlikely hero emerges. An everyday farmer turned freedom fighter, Janavel becomes one of the most brilliant military leaders and tacticians to ever lead a people to victory.

In fact, for hundred of years Janavel and the Waldensian people's fight against religious tyranny has been noted as inspiring freedom fighters around the world. Even contemporary freedom fighters study and build upon Janavel's military strategies and passionate leadership skills. For that reason, I would recommend that all high school-level Social Studies and Language Arts educators consider one of two options:

1. Collaborating in an interdisciplinary approach to teach both the literary and historical significance behind this text, and / or . . .
2. Aligning the themes to elements of story in Language Arts or to conflict resolution and social consciousness in Social Studies.

Either alone or in collaboration students are bound to be more than interested in this inspiring and rewarding struggle to bring the best of the human condition to our overall care and concern for the right to think and believe as we wish.

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: Joshua Janavel is an average farmer and townsman. In fact, and for most of his life, not much distinguishes him from his other Waldensian townsmen. That is until he finds himself defending his people's religious freedom from a tyrannical, royal ruler. One of the first instances of a people fighting against religious persecution in Europe Janavel becomes a legend not only as a natural and gifted military leader, but also as a world leader for all generations to face similar persecution.

Major Characters: Joshua Janavel ("Lion of Rora"), Waldensians, King of France, the Duke's soldiers, Joshua's mom, Duke of Savoy, Duchess of Savoy, the Micols, Torre Pellice, Bartolomeo Javier and men, Marguerite, Jacques Dauphine, French Huguenot Forces, Henri Arnaud, "The Invincibles"

Major Settings: 17th Century Italian/French Alps, Church, Royal Palace of the House of Savoy, Joshua Janavel's home, village of Angrogna, neighboring villages, Pramallo, Pinerolo, battlefield(s)

Major Themes: Church and State, Individual and Community, Tradition, Peace and War, Conflict, Legend, Historical Nonfiction or Fiction?, Bravery, Domestic and Foreign Affairs

Relevant Reading / Literacy Common Core Standards For Young Adult Readers

Key Ideas and Details
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.


Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.


Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

* The number(s) referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards (corestandards.org)

Reading Lesson Idea for Young Adult Readers in Language Arts Grades 9 - 10

Directions: Fill out the below graphic organizer, which links the prevailing themes to characters who demonstrate that theme, the subject area/areas relevant to both character and theme (either Language Arts, Social Studies, or both), and the reader's most logical explanation for linking the theme to the character, and, to the subject area(s); readers should feel encouraged to use the Common Core Standards or their own rationales to fill out the last column.



Subject Area(s)

Standard or Rationale for Subject Area Link







Church and State















Individual and Community




























Peace and War












































Historical Fiction or




























Domestic and Foreign Affairs











Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida. Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2013); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts (in press, 2014). When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her two wiener dogs, Sam and Max.