This novel is number three in the Twelve Kingdoms series and it looks like we’re going to get one novel per kingdom. So we have all the same universe rules but not much in the way of repeated characters which, as far as a series goes, isn’t my favorite thing.
In this one the main players are Rokuta, a young kirin, his king, Shoryu, Koya, a human boy who tamed a demon and Atsuyu. Long story short, the Kirin pick the ever-kings in this verse. The kings and the divine advisors are all immortals. If the king screws up, the kirin slowly dies and the king follows as they’re supposedly picked by divine means.
Rokuta is the total pacifist. Shoryu seems to be more interested in gambling and whoring than being king. Atsuyu, the leader of the Gen providence decides he wants to be the over king and at first seems to be a good and kind leader. He is the only person who ever accepted Koya as he is (i.e. a demon tamer) and has the young man’s unquestioning loyalty.
The story begins with Rokuta accidently being swept away across the sea to Japan where the young kirin is raised for a while before being abandoned and brought back to the twelve kingdoms world. Koya’s family is so poor that he, too, is abandoned in the woods to have one less mouth to feed. He is found and raised by demons. He and Rokuta meet once as children then later as young men.
Rokuta and Shoryu are seen as poor leaders especially by Shoryu’s advisors and Atsuyu’s rebellion has quite a bit of support. However, neither leader are what they really seem to be. Rokuta is taken prisoner by Koya and Atsuyu and is in danger of being killed, ending Shoryu’s reign (though probably not improving Atsuyu’s standing given the divine nature of the kirin). The Machiavellian aspects to the plot were very good.
I have to admit that I like each book a little less than the one before it. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good but they do have issues. The issue in this one for me was two-fold. It’s told very non-linearly with multiple flashbacks so you have to be paying close attention. That was just minorly annoying. What bothered me more was that none of the characters were that likeable. I’m not sure they were meant to be. Koya is too narrow in his thinking. Rokuta is too laid back and creates his own troubles. Shoryu is the same. I’m still interested in the series but this one was the weakest (and I think the shortest) so far.
Books: 28 Manga : 31