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Twelve Kingdoms - Paperback Edition Volume 3: The Vast Spread of the Seas (original 1994; edition 2010)

by Fuyumi Ono

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156476,544 (4.2)9
Member:Eurekas
Title:Twelve Kingdoms - Paperback Edition Volume 3: The Vast Spread of the Seas
Authors:Fuyumi Ono
Info:Tokyopop (2010), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy / Japanese

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The Twelve Kingdoms: The Vast Spread of the Seas by Fuyumi Ono (1994)

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The Vast Spread of the Seas is the third book in Fuyumi Ono's series of fantasy light novels The Twelve Kingdoms. In Japan the first two novels of the series were each released in two parts, technically making The Vast Spread of the Seas, published in 1994, the fifth volume of The Twelve Kingdoms. However, in the English-language edition of the series The Vast Spread of the Seas is the third volume. Tokyopop first released Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander's English translation of the novel early on in 2009 as a hardcover. Later that year it was released again in a paperback edition. Tokyopop's release of The Vast Spread of the Seas retains the illustrations by Akihiro Yamada. I quite enjoyed the first two books in The Twelve Kingdoms, so I was looking forward to reading The Vast Spread of the Seas.

The kingdom of En has fallen upon difficult times. The previous king drove the country to ruin and many of its people either died or fled during his vicious reign. Much of En became a wasteland and demons prowled the wilds. At first Shoryu, En's new king divinely appointed by the kingdom's kirin Rokuta, gives En's people hope for a better life. But much to the dismay of his ministers, it soon becomes clear that Shoryu would rather galavant about the country than focus on the kingdom's administration. Many of those in the provincial governments are also frustrated by Shoryu's seeming lack of motivation and the slow restoration of En. Atsuyu, the acting regent of the province of Gen, plans to take matters into his own hands if the king continues to refuse to address En's problems. With civil war brewing, Shoryu will be forced to abandon his inscrutable style of rule if he is to put an end to the rebellion and maintain the peace. But even then his decisions continue to confound those that serve him.

Although The Vast Spread of the Seas is the third novel in The Twelve Kingdoms, chronologically it takes place before the first two and isn't directly related plot-wise. However, the volume does focus on Shoryu and Rokuta who have played small but incredibly important roles in both Sea of Shadow and Sea of Wind. Reading the first two books does provide a little more insight into Shoryu and Rokuta's characters and what people think of them, but for the most part The Vast Spread of the Seas stands on its own. It explores their pasts, both before and after their association with En, as well as a critical period early in Shoryu's reign as the king. Because I have read the previous volumes in The Twelve Kingdoms I knew how some of the events in The Vast Spread of the Seas would ultimately end, but it was still very interesting to see how they played out and how Shoryu dealt with them.

A large part of The Vast Spread of the Seas delves into court politics and intrigue. Atsuyu's viewpoints are considered to be heretical and even dangerous, but his challenging of a system of authority that has failed its people is understandable and he raises some very legitimate concerns. Unfortunately, his criticisms are never fully addressed in The Vast Spread of the Seas. What is established is that Shoryu is a much keener ruler than he lets on and that he cares about his people immensely. Actions that seem to make no sense actually have significant purpose. He doesn't allow himself to be limited or constrained by what is expected of him as a king; Shoryu is incredibly creative and shrewed in his administration of the kingdom and very few people actually realize it. It's no wonder that he later becomes so admired and respected as a ruler despite his quirks and unorthodoxy.

Experiments in Manga ( )
  PhoenixTerran | Jul 10, 2013 |
This one started slowly for me but picked up quickly. Rokuta is the kirin of En. He was born in Hourai and as the youngest of his family in a time of war was taken out into the forest and abandoned. He is a reluctant Kirin and when he chooses the King he does so with much waffling, asking Shoryu several times if this is what he really wants. Shoryu is also from Hourai and is the heir to a sacked kingdom and a scattered people. He is dying when Rokuta offers him the Kingdom of En, which he does so partly to save him, as Kings heal quickly and live a very long time. In the beginning of this story we do not have the measure of these two, Shoryu seems lazy and pleasure loving and Rokuta appears to dislike the King and to be mostly fed up with governing and his chosen King. Then Koya returns. Koya is an orphan like Rokuta, also abandoned as a small child. He was raised by a demon and was terribly lonely for human kind until he was befriended by Atsuga, the son of the Governor of Gen. Koya and Rokuta met when they were children and formed a bond of sorts. Koya is sent to the King's palace by Atsuga to abduct Rokuta so that they can hold him hostage. Atsuga would like to be made regent over the King and to be given all the King's powers. These 4 characters and who they really are, their choices, their relationships and their actions are what this book is all about. I don't want to give away the plot so I will only say it is masterful. Well worth reading. Unlike the previous two this one has some humorous aspects. The relationship between Rokuta and Shoryu is priceless. ( )
  Eurekas | Jan 26, 2013 |
Book is wonderful; editor needs to be replaced. ( )
  auraesque | Dec 9, 2010 |
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At the far end of the world, there lies an ocean valled the Void Sea, which separates two distant lands, one to the east and one to the west.
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"When only an eggfruit, the kirin of the En Kingdom, Rokuta, was transported to Japan for his own protection. But he was abandoned soon after birth by his surrogate parents, left to fend for himself in the mountains. It just so happened that at the same time, a young boy in the En Kingdom named Koya was also abandoned by his own parents, after which he was raised by demon beasts. Their similar circumstances aren't the only thing to bind these two boys, though. Twenty years after their abandonment, their destinies intersect, with potentially disastrous consequences for the En Kingdom"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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