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The Twelve Kingdoms, Volume 2: Sea of Wind…
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The Twelve Kingdoms, Volume 2: Sea of Wind (original 1993; edition 2009)

by Fuyumi Ono

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203757,794 (4.09)2
Member:PhoenixTerran
Title:The Twelve Kingdoms, Volume 2: Sea of Wind
Authors:Fuyumi Ono
Info:TokyoPop (2009), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library, Reviewed
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Light Novel, Twelve Kingdoms

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The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Wind by Fuyumi Ono (1993)

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I loved this book when I first read it in 2010, and my recent reread of it didn't disappoint. Although I reviewed it when I first read it, I decided I'd write a brand new review for my reread because 1) my reviewing style has changed since then and 2) I had some new things to say.

My first read of Sea of Wind took place several years after reading the first book. This time around, I read it right after finishing Sea of Shadow, and this had a definite effect on my understanding of what was going on and my feelings about it all.

Sea of Wind is set several years prior to Sea of Shadow and has a tighter focus. At the start of the book, we see a little boy who has been sent outside into the snow as punishment for what his grandmother believes is a lie. When he feels a gust of warmth and sees an arm beckoning him, he goes to it, and is taken to the world of the Twelve Kingdoms. The boy is told his name is Taiki and that he is the kirin of the Kingdom of Tai. He doesn't really know what's going on, but he feels safe around Sansi, the lamia that was born to protect him until he reached adulthood.

The entire book deals with Taiki adjusting to life among the oracles at the Brush-Jar Palace. Although they tell him he's a kirin, he doesn't feel like one, and he's worried that he'll never be able to do what these nice people expect of him. He can't shift into his kirin form, he can't see kirin auras, he can't pacify even the tiniest of demons, and he's sure he'll never have the revelation that is supposed to help him choose the next king of Tai.

After Yoko's grueling journey in Sea of Shadow, Taiki's story was a breath of fresh air. He desperately wanted to be loved and to please those who cared about him. While in our own world, he couldn't do that: his grandmother found fault with everything he did and made his mother cry, his little brother didn't like him, and his father sided with his grandmother. In the world of the Twelve Kingdoms, he was adored by everyone around him. Seeing him move from the one life to the other gave me warm fuzzies, even though I felt sad about what it must have been like for his mother in our world when he suddenly disappeared.

Unfortunately, Taiki wasn't used to getting unconditional love. He fretted over his inability to do the things the oracles expected of him. The oracles, in turn, protected him from the full knowledge of the importance of his existence and duties. Taiki had no idea that, even as he spent each day enjoying the love and attention of the oracles, the people of Tai were suffering and would continue to suffer until he finally chose a king.

I don't think I realized until this reread just how sheltered Taiki was, and just how precarious his position was. As powerful as Taiki turned out to be, his will was incredibly weak. He was timid and filled with self-doubt. As a kirin, Taiki would be expected to advise his king, but I couldn't imagine him 1) finding the courage to voice his opinions or 2) being able to defend his opinions even if he did manage to voice them. While I very much enjoyed the book's ending, it didn't change how I felt about Taiki's future. Knowing that Taiki and his king were declared either dead or missing only a few years later, I couldn't help but feel a little ill despite the book's fairly happy ending.

One of the nice things about rereading this book so soon after rereading the first one was that I could see more of the connections between the two. For example, in Book 1 Enki stated that the kirin is a pitiful creature. Book 2 gave a much better sense of what he meant. Taiki was used to the idea of free will, so it took him a while to wrap his brain around the idea that he literally could not go against the mandate of Heaven. Because he was young, he didn't seem to realize the implications of that. The kings, who have no say in being declared kings, have more choices than the kirin do, even if one of those choices happens to be death.

It was nice seeing more of Keiki in this book, including a tiny bit from his perspective. In the first book, he appeared to be stiff, cold, and seriously lacking in empathy. This book allowed me to warm up to him a bit more. As it turned out, Keiki had exceptionally bad people skills, to the point that even the oracles chided him. He had no clue how to deal with his current king (the “Lady-King” who ruled just prior to Yoko) or the very sensitive Taiki. I now wish that Sea of Shadow had shown a bit from his perspective. I imagine that at least a part of him must have been worried about repeating some of the same mistakes he'd made with his first king with Yoko. It was lucky for him that Yoko turned out to be stronger and more flexible than his first king. (It feels kind of weird referring to two women as “kings.")

I'm glad this reread went so well. Although Yoko made for a stronger and more complex protagonist than Taiki, I still found myself preferring Book 2 to Book 1. The story was gentler, and the world and its rules were more clearly presented.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Nov 28, 2014 |
I'm obviously not going back to this. The crappy English adaptation is probably why.
  GinnyTea | Mar 31, 2013 |
In a time prior to the events of Vol. 1 of the Twelve Kingdoms, the future Kirin of Tai is swept away by a shoku and is not found for 10 years. It is his duty to choose the new King of Tai, but being born and having lived so long in another world he is unfamiliar with the finer points of just how to do this. There are things he would have learned naturally had he never been swept away with which he is now struggling. The oracles of Houzan try to help him by bringing in the Kirin of Kei, who we met in Vol. 1. Keiki is well meaning but austere and self-absorbed. He helps Taiki a little but not enough. The time for choosing the King has come and there are still some very important aspects of the choosing which Taiki does not know or has misinterpreted. This is a gentler and shorter story than the first, less blood and fighting, more emphasis on the characterizations. Having explained much of the system of governance of the 12 Kingdoms in the first book the author did not repeat that part of the structure but concentrated on just the parts concerning the Kirin's relationship to the KIng and the development of the Kirin. I enjoyed it very much. A masterful piece of writing. ( )
  Eurekas | Jan 23, 2013 |
Sea of Wind is the second novel in Tokyopop's English-language release of Fuyumi Ono's fantasy light novel series The Twelve Kingdoms illustrated by Akihiro Yamada. The novel was originally published in Japan as two separate volumes, both of which were released in 1993 under the title Sea of Wind, Shore of Labyrinth. Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander's English translation of Sea of Wind was originally published in hardcover by Tokyopop's Pop Fiction imprint in 2008 before being released in a paperback edition in 2009. I very much enjoyed Sea of Shadow, the first novel in The Twelve Kingdoms, and so was looking forward to reading the second volume a great deal. Technically, Sea of Wind is a prequel of sorts. Although they are not directly related, the events in Sea of Wind take place before those explored in Sea of Shadow.

Before his birth, the kirin of the kingdom of Tai was swept away by a great shoku, a terrifying storm that rips between worlds. Although the search for him began immediately, it is an unprecedented ten years before the kirin is able to be found. Having been lost in the world Over There, Taiki's return to the world into which he should have been born is celebrated. Taiki never really fit in Over There but because he has been gone for so long he doesn't quite fit in in the world that is welcoming him home, either. He has much to learn about the world he now inhabits and, more importantly, about himself. The kirin play a critical role and Taiki is desperately needed by Tai. But without the knowledge and powers that should have come naturally to him, Taiki must first conquer his own inadequacies before he can fulfill his role.

After the initial chaos surrounding Taiki's disappearance, Sea of Wind begins fairly benignly. Taiki's welcome home is a warm one and he is treated very kindly. But as the novel progresses danger and darkness are introduced to the story. The portrayal of Taiki's growth as a character is particularly well done. His fear, confusion, and distress is almost palpable as he struggles with his newly discovered obligations and responsibilities. Taiki is plagued by doubt and guilt. He wants to please those around him and is terrified of making a mistake. He can hardly be blamed--the fate of an entire kingdom rests on his tiny, inexperienced shoulders. Most of the other characters aren't nearly as well developed as Taiki, but Sea of Wind really is his story more than anything else.

Although Sea of Wind is the second book in The Twelve Kingdoms, it stands quite well on its own. However, there are some scenes that will be more meaningful to someone who has read Sea of Shadow as well. In particular is the appearance of Keiki, another kirin who was introduced in Sea of Shadow. He plays an important role in Sea of Wind, too, and his interactions with Taiki are wonderful. A few of the other characters from Sea of Shadow also make their return in Sea of Wind, which I was very happy to see. As for the story itself, Ono still has the tendency to infodump from time to time. However, I find the world of The Twelve Kingdoms to be so fascinating that I usually didn't mind too much. I am still thoroughly enjoying the series and am looking forward to reading the next volume, The Vast Spread of the Seas.

Experiments in Manga ( )
  PhoenixTerran | Dec 12, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fuyumi Onoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexander, Elye J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Alexander O.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yamada, AkihiroIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was snowing.

Thick, heavy flacks sank down through the sky. The boy looked up to see them: countless gray, thin shadows, cutting across the white of the atmosphere so fast that they seemed to blur. When he followed them with his eyes, they slowed, becoming white again.
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Please do not combine others editions with the US release.
The US edition have only one volume for "Sea of the Wind, Shore of the Labyrinth" but japanese and french have two volumes.
So, "Volume 2: Sea of Wind" of the US release (both paperback and Hardcover) IS NOT equal to japanese "風の海 迷宮の岸〈下〉" or french "Le rivage du labyrinthe : Tome 2"
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"Born in Japan and raised as a human, Taiki is overwhelmed when he's brought back to the kingdom of Tai, where he's told he's a kirin. With little knowledge or guidance, he must trust his latent instincts to choose a king for the Kingdom of Tai from among dozens of men and women who seek the position. Will the frustrated Taiki, who can't even figure out how to transform into animal form, make the right choice? And more important, will he discover the kirin that lives within?"--From www.wikipedia.org.… (more)

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