This is book 2 in the Twelve Kingdoms series. It's a 'sequel' in that it's in the same universe but pretty much has none of the original characters so I guess this series is more about the world than the characters (and I'm more a character driven reader). This chunky novel is about Taiki, the Kirin. In this universe, the Kirin picks the kings (this is a non-gender specific title in this case). Kirin, like their lamia guardians, are grown from eggs on a tree.
This book can be broken down into four sections, Taiki's birth, Taiki's childhood, looking for the king, what happens once the king is found.
Taiki had a bizarre upbringing in that his egg was stolen and he was raised human for a decade or so. He doesn’t even know he is a Kirin. He just knows he's not well loved. The next section, Taiki is returned to where he belongs and the oracles, unaging women, have to teach him what it is to be a Kirin. He even gets help from another of his kind but Taiki cannot shift into his Kirin form and he can't bind demons and he really is a timid young boy. Finally, the king wannabes arrive and he doesn't know how to choose one of them. He really would like it to be a lady general but knows this isn't the case. Once he makes his choice, he regrets it until the final pages.
It's not a bad story. However, it's very inactive for something 300+ pages long. It's a whole lot of dialogue. Taiki is a sweet character but sometimes his self-doubt makes you want to punch him. The one thing that really did bother me was that some of the tension relied too heavily on the 'gee I should have explained that better trope.' I get annoyed when if someone just told a second character something it would have cured everything but the author doesn't have time say a word and you get all this tension. Um, that's just lazy. Overall, though, I like the series and I liked this story. It's just draggy in spots, especially when it gets obsessive over names and spellings there of but that is a very Japanese thing.