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A Bride’s Story (Vol. 8)

The attack mounted by Amir’s former clan on the Eihon’s village has left most of the town in disrepair. Pariya’s family home was destroyed, along with all her bridal linens. It’s a lifetime’s work to build embroidered linens for a bride’s dowry, started from the time a girl is old enough to hold a needle and thread, and it’s all gone. Pariya has to start all over again. Even with the help of Amir and her family, for which she’s very grateful, Pariya feels more anxious than ever about marriage. She finally has a suitor who’s interested in her, but now their wedding has to be delayed. What if Umar decides he doesn’t want to wait? Or he decides that Pariya’s strong personality isn’t what he’s looking for in a wife? Pariya decides to watch Kamola, another girl in the village, and try to learn from her. Kamola is everything that a girl should be (and everything Pariya is not): kind, patient, soft-spoken. Maybe if Pariya tries to be more like Kamola, she can be the perfect bride.

As promised in the last volume, we make a return to Amir and Karluk’s village, and Pariya’s story specifically, with this installment. As I’m now in the year of my own wedding, with so much more to be done before the big day (EEK!!!), I sympathized greatly with Pariya’s anxieties. Though I’m fortunate enough to not have lost all my bridal linens in a fire, there are so many tasks to be done and things to put in place that it’s at times extraordinarily overwhelming. We learn here that it’s okay to be overwhelmed, we have friends ready and willing to help us in times of need, and that starting is truly the hardest part of getting anything done.

One thing I’ve grown to appreciate over the course of this series is the variety in the personalities of the main characters. Pariya is headstrong, outspoken, and often brusque – but it doesn’t mean she’s a bad person, or wouldn’t make a suitable wife. Amir is more motherly; firm yet gentle, patient, and always willing to teach and learn from others. We meet Kamola, a foil to Pariya’s character, near the end of this volume; I’m greatly looking forward to seeing how these two interact with and learn from each other.

As ever, looking forward to the next volume! I think this is the furthest I’ve ever gotten in a manga! =P

– Kathleen

Mori, Kaoru. A Bride’s Story (Vol. 8). 2016.

A Bride’s Story (Vol. 7)

Hello and welcome to the last post of 2019!

We follow Mr. Smith once again in this volume, as his travels take him to the home of a wealthy merchant in Persia. Though the merchant has a wife named Anis, it’s customary for the brides of Persia to never show their faces to men outside the family, so they never meet. However, Mr. Smith learns much about Persian culture and customs for his research, and Anis learns much about Mr. Smith and England from her husband. Though Anis has a child, and is very happy with married life, she is lonely and desires female companionship. Mahfu, her child’s nurse, suggests Anis accompany her to the women’s public baths, so she might meet other women. There Anis meets Sherine, a woman who reminds her of a cat: beautiful and aloof, but still a warm person underneath. They immediately hit it off, prompting Anis to ask Sherine to become her avowed sister. Will Sherine accept?

Mori goes into a little more detail about avowed sisters in the epilogue to this volume. Apparently, avowed sisters were a custom among Persian women somewhere between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. It was almost like a marriage, but between two women. They usually spent a year in each other’s company before one asked the other to be her avowed sister. Upon accepting the offer, a ceremony was performed in front of many witnesses, wherein the two women swore to be devoted friends for life.

I thought that was wonderful! I loved this volume because it highlighted the close friendships women can form with each other! It’s so important to see friends love each other so deeply and be able to express that love for one another! Plus, I learned something new, which is always exciting! XD

The extraordinary detail usually found in Mori’s artwork was a bit toned down for this volume. Much of the story takes place in the women’s baths, as Anis and Sherine get to know each other, so the backgrounds are hazy and steamy without much detail. There is a much higher level of nudity in this volume because of the setting, but it’s never inappropriate.

There is a short story at the end of this volume that takes place between Karluk’s parents. It’s the cherry on top of an already sweet volume. This latest installment may have given me diabetes!!! I’ll see you all in the new year if I survive this sugar rush ;D

– Kathleen

Mori, Kaoru. A Bride’s Story (Vol. 7). 2015.

A Bride’s Story (Vol. 6)

Amir’s former tribe, the Halgals, have fallen upon hard times. They had needed to get Amir back to marry her to another tribe to expand their grazing lands. Because her new family wouldn’t give her up, they now have no new grazing land, and their livestock are suffering. Amir’s father, Berkhrat, strikes a bargain with their distant cousins, the Badan clan. They will attack the Eihon village and take their grazing lands for themselves. The Badan are in possession of guns and cannons they’ve purchased from the Russians, so it should be an easy fight. Amir’s older brother, Azel, is uneasy with the eagerness with which his father accepted the bargain, and is concerned for the life of his sister, as are their cousins Joruk and Baimat. When the time comes for battle, will these 3 young men follow their elders as they are expected to?

This volume is considerably faster-paced than the manga has been so far. Mori shows versatility with both her writing and drawing here. The small, intricate details are toned down in this volume, to showcase the speed and urgency of battle, though I never found it lacking in the signature atmosphere of the series. The layout and paneling are much tighter and follow a more traditional “comic book” format, to also highlight the action.

Though of course the writing is tighter and more action-oriented as well, we still are on a close, personal level with the characters. We experience the battle from more than one vantage point, allowing us to see the whole story, and see exactly what each character is experiencing. I’m impressed that she pulled off what is essentially a character study within a battle story. If I had any doubts about her writing ability before, I certainly don’t any longer!

– Kathleen

Mori, Kaoru. A Bride’s Story (Vol. 6). 2014.

The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars

I have long read and admired the blog tours that Shannon of R&R Blog Tours puts together, but typically the books didn’t match the type of blog that Kathleen and I write- until now! When Shannon let me know a manga book was in her wheelhouse, I happily accepted a spot on this blog tour. Read on to find out my thoughts on this manga novella!

The Serpent-Bearer

Welcome to The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars blog tour! Read on to learn more about this beautifully illustrated graphic novel by C.S. Johnson, and a chance to win a copy for yourself!

The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars

Publication Date: November 7th, 2018

Genre: Manga Style/ Graphic Novel

Length: 30 Pages

A tiresome task.
A deceptive dragon.
A prince that changes everything.

Ophiuchus is a celebrated warrior of the Celestial Kingdom and a warrior among the Stars. He has been always been a dutiful servant of the Prince of Stars. So when the prince asks him to watch over the crafty serpent, Naga, Ophiuchus agrees. But as time passes and discouragement—both from Naga and others—Ophiuchus wonders if the Prince of Stars was right in asking him to take on the burdens of his task.

Will Ophiuchus honor his duty, or give in to his heart’s weariness?

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My thoughts:

This short manga packed quite a punch in its allegorical tale.  Ophiuchus is a warrior that has been tasked with keeping the devious dragon Naga in line. The two have been battling for a millennium and Ophiuchus is weary and feels even the Zodiac creatures do not support him. When the two are inviting to a party by the Prince of Stars, Naga tries to plant doubt in Ophiuchus’s mind about his duty and the nature of the dragon. In a moment of weakness Ophiuchus believes Naga’s claims, but when the Prince meets with Ophiuchus he is given clarity and strength to once again take up the burden of fighting Naga.  This fable about good vs evil is clear and has Christian overtones that strengthen this novella.

The black and white art was drawn in anime style with tight panels that did not show much background. The animals and fantastic creatures of the Zodiac were well drawn with extra care to make Naga both beautiful but deadly. An opening scene showed a castle, and I would have liked to see more world-building in the scenes as the art was lovely and would have added to the story.

I enjoyed this manga, and I would recommend it to readers who are struggling and might find strength in the story. This dialogue-heavy tale could lead to deep discussions if shared with others concerning the nature of our burdens and the help we can find in our friends and in our faith.

Excerpt

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Available on Amazon!

About the Author

Author Pic

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

CS Johnson | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

For a chance to win your own copy of The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars, click the link below!

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The Serpent-Bearer

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A Bride’s Story (Vol. 5)

The twins, Leila and Leily, are finally getting married! There is so much to do and prepare: their wedding attire, the feast for the guests, and more! The day approaches, but as custom dictates, the brides cannot participate in any of the festivities. They’re instead expected to sit quietly and await their grooms. If they thought snagging husbands was hard, they’re in for a trial on their own wedding day! Of course, Mr. Smith is there, taking notes and asking questions on every aspect of the wedding festivities, but it will soon be time for him to resume his journey to Ankara. Amir has taken in an injured hawk and is trying to nurse it back to health. She worries it won’t be able to fly again, but Karluk is worried the hawk is getting more attention from his wife than he is! How does he navigate these feelings of jealousy?

So far, I haven’t minded that the series is in black and white – but man, with this volume, I really wish it was. The wedding festivities would have been amazing to see in color… I’m sure it would have been a riot of reds, yellows, and whites – cheerful colors. It is fun to imagine, don’t get me wrong ;D Mori’s drawing is so detailed and precise that I could almost smell the food being prepared. The art of this manga is so sensual and transports you to another place simply by looking at a panel.

I am glad we circled back to Amir and Karluk’s relationship in this volume. There is a beautiful chapter where Amir narrates a day – one day – in their life together, yet it feels like a snapshot of their whole married life thus far. Being engaged to be married myself… it hit a little hard. I feel like we’re digging a little more into the “meat” of the story here, with further character development, and the deepening of Amir and Karluk’s relationship. As ever, looking forward to the next volume!

– Kathleen

Mori, Kaoru. A Bride’s Story (Vol. 5). 2013.

My Brother’s Husband: Volume Two

My Brother’s Husband concludes in a beautifully written two book series about preconceived notions about the LGBTQ+ community and how to fight those prejudices.

Author and illustrator Gengoroh Tagame is a well known openly gay Japanese artist whose previous manga series are extremely adult orientated. Tagame typically writes gay erotic manga, but in this case he decided to write an all ages book written to combat prejudices against gay culture. He succeeds brilliantly.

In the first volume, we first meet Yaichi, a divorced dad to daughter Kana. He receives a visit from Mike, a hulking Canadian, who was married to Yaichi’s twin brother Ryoji. Ryoji has recently died, and Mike wants to meet his family and see where his husband had grown up. Kana is absolutely shocked to meet him, for first of all she didn’t even know her father had a brother as the twins were estranged, and secondly she did not know men could marry.

This second volume continues with the reminder of Mike’s visit, three weeks in all. Yaichi, Kana, and Natsuki (Yaichi’s ex, whom he remains on good terms with) take Mike to an onsen, which is a traditional Japanese hot spring. The four of them have an enjoyable time there together, which makes Yaichi further reflect on his previous ideas of who makes up a family unit.  While he regrets that his relationship with his twin ended so sadly he can go forward teaching his daughter to make better choices than he did.

We get further acceptance when Kana’s teacher calls in Yaichi for a conference regarding Kana’s sharing with her classmates that her gay uncle is visiting. Yaichi schools the teacher on being accepting, which is one of the first times he he is outspoken in public about changing perceptions that are ingrained in Japanese culture. When Mike heads home back to Canada, you know Yaichi and Kana’s life has been changed for the better by his visit. You will be hopeful that this new family will continue their relationship, and they will stay connected.

This quiet slice-of-life manga deftly shows how one family can start to break a cycle, and for those people to then branch out in sharing their awareness and how it could radiate out to others. So I was pleased to find out that these two books was adapted into a three episode Japanese television program, which hopefully gave it a medium for reaching even a larger audience. Kudos to Tagame for showcasing an important message and for changing perceptions in a loving and positive manner!

-Nancy

A Bride’s Story (Vol. 4)

We turn our focus back on Mr. Smith in this volume, as he and his guide continue on their road to Ankara. As they skirt the Aral Sea, they are led to a fishing village by a lively pair of twins named Laila and Leily. They are of an age to marry, but their father hasn’t gotten started on making them a match yet! Since they know the kind of men they want, they decide to take their nuptials into their own hands – which, more often than not, gets them into trouble! Meanwhile, Pariya’s father has met with the father of a boy that has taken an interest in her! Pariya is extremely nervous – she likes the boy as well, but won’t her forceful personality scare him away, just like all the others?

I cannot overstate it – I adore this manga. The illustrations are so lovingly detailed, and really ground you in the setting. The only thing I didn’t like about this volume were the introduction of the twins. Their comedic relief was a bit overdone for me. The leisurely pace is still a big draw for me. Even if I wish we would meander back to Amir and Karluk at some point, the journey is still worth it.

– Kathleen

Mori, Kaoru. A Bride’s Story (Vol. 4). 2013.

A Bride’s Story (Vol. 3)

In this volume, we catch up with Mr. Smith! He is a researcher from England who was a guest in the Eihon household for a long time. He departed in Vol. 2 to continue his research about the people who live on the Silk Road. He meets a young woman named Talas at the market in the next town, where he is waiting for his guide. Their horses are stolen, and upon their recovery, she invites him to stay with her and her mother-in-law. Talas had been married previously – to every one of her mother-in-law’s sons. Her mother-in-law soon gets the idea that Talas and Mr. Smith should marry! But they don’t feel romantically towards each other – or do they?

Talas’ story reminded me of Draupadi, a character in the Indian epic Mahabharata, who married all five of the Pandava brothers. The circumstances that befall their husbands are equally tragic, though both women display a certain tenacity to weather troubled times. Mr. Smith is a great character; as he learns more about the land and people as an outsider, we do too. He acts almost as a lens! The characters in this volume are drawn tenderly, and you can’t help feeling for them. The art is so detailed, intricate, and vibrant – there is a scene where everyone is eating at the public market, and my mouth was watering from the imaginary smells!

I feel like I’ve reached a record with manga – 3 volumes in and I’m still as engaged with it as when I first started! Woo hoo! Looking forward to the next volume ❤

– Kathleen

Mori, Kaoru. A Bride’s Story (Vol. 3). 2011.

A Bride’s Story (Vol. 2)

Things are good in the Eihon household. Amir has met a young woman named Pariya, an outspoken, accomplished baker, and the two become fast friends. Mr. Smith, a long-time guest of the household, has finally decided to move on to continue his research, resulting in a bittersweet parting. Amir and Karluk’s bond has deepened. However, Amir’s family has come to take her back. They were turned away by Karluk’s grandmother in the first volume, but they are back to take Amir by any means necessary. They insist Amir wasn’t the girl they intended to send to marry Karluk. The entire family – even the village – stands their ground to protect Amir. When it’s all over, how can Amir forgive, forget, and move on?

The first volume was mostly about Amir and Karluk’s relationship, but here we have multiple plot threads going for different characters. It added some much-needed plot and depth to the story. It’s really more of a study in the traditions and customs of the people as it is an actual story, but the leisurely pace is appealing to me at the moment. I’m happy to report the art in this volume was just as superb as the last! Looking forward to the art in the next volume too 😉

– Kathleen

Mori, Kaoru. A Bride’s Story (Vol. 2). 2010.

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