machinaheart's Reviews > The Twelve Kingdoms: The Vast Spread of the Seas

The Twelve Kingdoms by Fuyumi Ono
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's review
Jan 22, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: myths-mythological, genre-fantasy

[shamelessly stealing the form of this review from Hannah]

In Short: I loved it. Mainly because of Enki, but there were many other things that made me truly enjoy this book!

[slight spoilers, nothing specific]
In Detail:

THE MAIN CHARACTERS which I roughly identify as Enki/Rokuta and Shoryu/Naotaka are depicted wonderfully. Especially Shoryu's characterization was stunningly done, slow and barely scratching at the surface of his character at times, but in the end it became an in-depth insight into his character. Since much of the story was written from Enki's point of view, there was a lot of insight into his character from the start and I dearly loved that. He is stubborn and set in his ways, sometimes even to the point of being blinded by it, but in the end he learned a lot about himself and his king. It was wonderful to experience his growth.

THE STORY at first a little bit confusing, but I think that only adds to the reading pleasure, since you have to think a little and it is a lot of fun to put together the pieces of the story and learn where the different characters come from. The past and the present of the characters are woven together wonderfully, and I was never tired of the changes in point of view, setting or time.

THE CHARACTERS made me laugh, cry, want to hit them, extremely angry and love them. While reading I was fooled like Enki and suspicious like Ribi, extremely annoyed like Seisho and Itan as well asrelaxed and confident as Shoryu. I loved how Enki made me doubt the king and his capability as a ruler only for Shoryu to prove us so very wrong (although I had my doubts about Enki's seemingly irrevocable opinion). Most of all I was surprised by how Ribi seemed to be a minor and not really important character and then became extremely important and helped to give insights into the ruling mechanisms of the king. I also liked that this was accomplished efficiently without great proclamations or dragging explanations.
I also liked the similarities in Enki's and Koya's histories as well as how the character of Atsuyu transformed from a benevolent regent to a self-absorbed tyrant, who is truly blind to the flaws of his own character. It was believable, albeit a bit fast.

The book did not introduce many new aspects about THE WORLD, but the world-building supplied a chapter of En's history that I was curious about. Ever since I saw the anime - which I do have to mention here, because I do not remember if this was the same in The Sea of Shadow - where Enki tells Youko about how he choose his king, I was interested in how he and Shoryu became as close as they were in Youko's story when Enki seemed to have hated kings so much at the beginning.

THE STORY TWISTS were nicely done. I was surprised when I should have been and while I doubted Enki's harsh judgement about Shoryu from the start, I did a lot of doubting Shoruyu myself and was pleasantly surprised with what was revealed throughout the story. The same is true for Atsuyu, just that it was the other way around ;)

I am sure there are some flaws I forget to mention here, because OVERALL I am so happy with The Vast Spread of the Seas that I seem to have forgotten all about them.
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