The Twelve Kingdoms, Volume 2: Sea of Wind
1 journaler for this copy...
I loved the anime adaptation of this light-novel series, and read Volume 1 via a library copy, then found a copy of this one.
There's a very enjoyable story here! While it is enhanced if you've read the previous book and have a better idea of how the 12 Kingdoms operate, this book includes enough background information to get on with, and I really enjoyed the ups and downs.
This book opens with a young boy standing outside in the snow, sent there by his grandmother as punishment for refusing to admit to a minor household accident. And just as my sympathy for him and outrage against his family are reaching a peak, he finds himself drawn to a narrow gap from which an arm is beckoning, and where a warm breeze is blowing...
Then we switch from Japan to a sacred place in the Twelve Kingdoms, where we see the birth of a lamia whose fate it is to tend the new kirin-fruit that will hatch her charge, Taiki. But something goes terribly wrong, and the egg is blown away just before its time to hatch, into another world. Since the Twelve Kingdoms rely on having a kirin for each kingdom, to select the proper king, this leaves the kingdom of Tai in dire straits, and poor Sansi is quite distracted. Ten years pass before her charge is located and returned; will he be able to learn the duties of a kirin after spending all that time as a human child in a different world?
Taiki's challenges are many, and while he accepts his new situation fairly easily - for one thing, he finds himself the object of much pampering by the now-ecstatic Sansi, and by everyone else on the island - he begins to realize that he's lonely, and, worse, that he has no idea how to go about the duties of his station. Another kirin is brought in to talk to him, but Keiki is a rather daunting figure, not at all used to speaking with young children, and unable to explain how to use his kirin powers. All his reassurances that these things will come in time, that Taiki will know what to do when he needs to, these don't help the boy much. And when the crowds of people begin to arrive, hoping that he'll choose one of them as the next king of Tai, he gets increasingly upset - so important a task, but he doesn't know how to recognize the king.
His relationships with his devoted handmaid Sansi, with the well-intentioned but impatient Keiki, and with the candidates Ryusi, a woman who is a general in the provincial army of Tai, and Gyoso, of the palace guard, thoroughly charmed me, and I got quite caught up in worrying just who was supposed to be king and whether Taiki would figure it out in time.
Eventually, Taiki's fear of losing one of his new friends causes him to follow in desperation - and to choose a king, though he's in an agony of fear because he's quite certain that he's chosen for the wrong reasons, and may doom the country. Poor little kirin! His friends - including kirin Keiki and Enki - rally to his aid, but he goes through some tough times here.
There's a lot more to the story, from attempts to force Taiki to choose a particular candidate to a hunt for a demon servant/familiar, and with tidbits about the political problems in the kingdom that can only be dealt with once a king is in place. But the focus of this story is Taiki, and a charming tale it is!
[There's an extensive TV Tropes page on the series, including the differences between the original books and the anime, but beware of spoilers.]
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*** Released for the 2017 4 Elements release challenge. ***
*** Released for the 2017 Oh, the Places We Can Go release challenge. ***
*** Released for the 2017 TV Series release challenge. ***