I read this years ago--I can't believe I never added it here. This is one of the books that makes me wish that more Japanese fantasy was available inI read this years ago--I can't believe I never added it here. This is one of the books that makes me wish that more Japanese fantasy was available in English. (I have a major in Japanese now, but it's going to be some time before I can read the rest of this series...)
I've read many stories about characters from our world travelling to mysterious new ones. It's a wonderful trope. It's usually filled with the wonder of exploration. This one is not. Yoko is terrified of her new surroundings, the magic that helps her fight, the differences between this world and the one she was born in that hammer in the sense that she is no longer home. I remember being so viscerally taken in by her journey, the culture shock, as well as just the cool details and the arrangement of the world, its mythology and creatures, and so on. It was her fear and her developed me that really got me, though, and I related to the process of adjusting to a new culture, and I really, deeply loved reading about that experience in a fantasy novel.
I've read the next two books and enjoyed them, but none of them stuck with me the way Yoko's quest did....more
I'm definitely intrigued. Witches and alchemists, forests and tea, cats and curses, dragons and fey... I love this book's aesthetics. I was drawn in aI'm definitely intrigued. Witches and alchemists, forests and tea, cats and curses, dragons and fey... I love this book's aesthetics. I was drawn in as soon as I saw the cover.
That said, this volume was pretty slow, and I was expecting more tension between Chise and Elias because, you know, she had a hard life already and now she's been bought by this ancient skull-headed mage creature person. Kinda creepy but also awesome. Elias' design is fantastic. And unlike my other favorite bride series, Bride of the Water God, the bride thing doesn't seem to be a big deal. At least not yet. But, this volume also felt like a great introduction to the world of the story. I'm really taken by the artist's designs and she seems full of cool ideas. I want to know more! Also, Chise is given a lot of room to do her own thing, which was surprising but nice. Ultimately, my only real complaint is that I sometimes had trouble mapping speech bubbles to their owners.
I'm really looking forward to following this series....more
I'd head good things about the webcomic from a friend. When I saw the book on sale at Powell's, I snatched it up. After all, I like giving them my monI'd head good things about the webcomic from a friend. When I saw the book on sale at Powell's, I snatched it up. After all, I like giving them my money, and I like paying artists for their work.
A cute and charming yet bittersweet tale. I love the art, simple but expressive, colorful and endearing. I also love the fun fusion of a high fantasy aesthetic with modern technology and superhero tropes thrown in, the fact that it's told from the supervillain's PoV, and the narrow scope of the story. It hones in and focuses on a few characters with every shade of gray. Like, three characters. This was a truly refreshing read after novels of world-saving epics, which I also love, but sometimes you need a change of pace, you know? And I'm all about having a few characters who you get to know really well.
Three things drew me to this book. 1) Todd Lockwood. No mortal can resist the allure of cover art by Lockwood. Yes, I judged this book by its cover. 2)Three things drew me to this book. 1) Todd Lockwood. No mortal can resist the allure of cover art by Lockwood. Yes, I judged this book by its cover. 2) I am always drawn by loyalty and stringent rule-keeping characters, so the idea of a created race who are somehow utterly unable to break an oath was really intriguing. I really love all the concepts the Aern were forged from. 3) Father-daughter relationship!
This book was a fun read, but didn't stand out enough to warrant 4 stars, quite. There was a lot of repetition of words that could have been implied (so much emphasis on race names) and some lengthy prose that made reading slow or tore me from the narrative. Though it builds on a base of pretty typical humans-elves-dwarves, there's a lot of worldbuilding and a lot of it is mentioned cursorily, but I can't tell if it will be expanded on later or if it's an immersive technique. But what I do love is that the author seems to really enjoy the world that he's built, and he's packed it full of mystic history that feels like legend but was acted out by the main characters. It's an epic high fantasy that spans more time than space, and it's not about saving the world. It's pretty cool. Actually, there's a lot of stuff in this world that seems to be there just for cool factor, but I get the feeling that the author does it with a passion, not that it's a pass at making something sound cool to be appealing. The one thing that gets me is that you have names from Kholster and Rae'en, which flow very well, to M'jynn that don't seem to fit the same assumed language, to the Ghaiattri which are apparently demons (the demon world thing isn't really explained) but sound more like an Italian artisan family. Maybe it reminds me of Ghirardelli chocolate. And Shidarva, which sounds Hindi or Sanskrit. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with anything-goes naming, but personally it breaks my immersion.
In short, the writing could use some polish IMO and some elements seemed slapped together, but this book was obviously crafted with love and passion, with a lot of cool ideas. It was fun to read, and a fun world to explore, though I'm not really sure what happened at the end...?
I'm interested in reading the sequel, but honestly it's largely because I want to admire its cover on my shelf. Todd Lockwood art of dragons and badass ladies in well-designed armor? I'll support that. I'm happy to read more about Rae'en and Wylant. ...more
It's difficult to tell how much is the translation and how much is the original writing, but I'm torn between feeling like the narrative was wooden anIt's difficult to tell how much is the translation and how much is the original writing, but I'm torn between feeling like the narrative was wooden and being intrigued by how matter-of-fact it can be, completely unafraid to tell you what's happening, and somewhat distanced from the characters themselves, which adds to the brutal, uncaring situation they're in. It could also be because this book tells the stories of 42 students and their last fleeting moments of life. That's a lot of characters to capture. It wasn't a deeply emotional story, but it was thrilling, bloody and action-packed, and the name and propaganda of the Republic of Greater East Asia made me imagine that this is a Japan that maybe won in World War II... apparently the author didn't about think the setting a whole lot, but anyone who's taken a class on modern Japanese history might feel that resonance as well. The setting in totalitarian Japan made me think a lot.
I also had to put this book down for over two months due to events in my own life that made it difficult to read. So perhaps it lost some momentum, but I was still really interested in how the story ended, if anything changed, at least if any of the main characters died, I was desperate for their fighting not to be in vain!
I'm struggling to come to a conclusion with this review... it's difficult to pinpoint the points I particularly liked, even though I did enjoy the book overall. I thought it was really interesting mostly as a student of Japanese culture and history. It helped to have some context to understand where this book came from.
I might have to think for a while and rewrite this review. For now, I give it three stars because it's not a favorite but it was a good read....more