I know that the title is pretty indicative of the pace of this volume, but I found myself really appreciating the lull in all of the extreme violence. Something in the relentless killing and torture scenes in the last few volumes has begun to wear a little thin, and I usually find myself numb to all the death and pain by the end, which is unusual for me.
The Calm Before sort of re-introduced me to the characters I had stopped caring about, and for this reason certain moments like Carol's suicide and Dale losing his leg
hit me far harder than anything that happened in, say, the Governor's town. I also liked the juxtapositions between "good" and "bad" events: Lori's healthy baby born at the same time as Dale nearly dies; Glen and Maggie's marriage preceding Carol's death; and of course small moments like the vegetables being delicious and basketball being discussed before the sudden arrival of Woodbury in tanks and armoured vehicles.
The ending clearly indicates that the brutal violence is far from over. In some ways I'm a little disappointed - the times when I've enjoyed the series the most is when the horror is slow-burning. This is where I think the television series triumphs, making the characters a little more relatable and therefore the whole series all the more terrifying. I will confess that after volume 6 I was unsure how much I wanted to continue the series, but this volume has changed my mind, and I believe I will keep going for a while longer.