The Story of Saiunkoku, Vol. 9
1 journaler for this copy...
The story opens with the daughter of a noble but impoverished house agreeing to become the consort of the king - purely for the money, of course. It's very funny, with tons of attractive men, romantic complications, and quirky characters. The heroine tends to be outspoken and practical, and a surprising amount of the plot deals with topics such as the day-to-day practices of governing - paperwork, exams, negotiations...
This volume picks up after the events of Volume 8 - though as it's a collection of side stories, with some flashbacks to the youth of key characters, it doesn't advance the plot very much. I did enjoy seeing those backstories, especially the one about Shurei's father - who, despite his affable and somewhat laid-back exterior, is a major badass and was leader of a band of elite assassins! His flashback shows his relationship to his brothers (and also reveals how adorable he was as a five-year-old) - but displays his early awareness of political issues, leading to his decision to preserve his clan from his overly-ambitious great-aunt by any means possible, including forcing her to commit suicide (!).
Other stories are lighter, with much bantering among the brothers (and between Shurei and Eigetsu as they try to rein in the wildly outrageous Ryuren as he scams every gambling house in the city). The volume would have been helped by a more detailed character-list, though; there are LOTS of characters, going by a variety of family and familiar names, and the short list that is up front doesn't begin to cover them all. Despite that, the beautiful artwork and intricate characterizations are worth checking out.
I do love this series, and recommend the anime too.
[There's a TV Tropes page about the series, which began as light novels and then was adapted to anime and manga.]
See also Volume 1.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
[See other recent releases in NH here.]
*** Released for the 2018 TV Series release challenge. ***
*** Released for the 2018 The The release challenge. ***