Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 171.
- Review Date: 2007-02-19
- Reviewer: Staff
Only the most ambitious readers need apply for Ono's complex seven-part epic, the first volume of the Twelve Kingdoms series, which is being published in English 15 years after its Japanese debut. Apart from being a redhead in a country where everyone's hair was black, Yoko is a student at an all-girl high school living an ordinary life—until she is attacked one day by several giant creatures. An enigmatic man named Keiki rescues her and whisks her across the Void Sea to a "bizarre and fearful world," where gods interact with kings, and children literally grow on trees. Yoko became separated from Keiki as she entered this mythical province of Jhun, in a land divided into 12 kingdoms. Its inhabitants, Yoko discovers, consider her a bad omen and would like to see her dead. Yoko's quest to locate Keiki leads her to some characters with questionable motives before she meets a friendly "rat-creature" named Rakushun. From him Yoko learns that Keiki is not a man but rather a kirin, "the biggest and noblest of the spirit-creatures"—and she is herself the "Glory-King," the chosen leader of the wartorn kingdom of Kei. Drawing heavily on Asian mythology, the story moves at a sluggish pace, at times bogged down by details and terminology. Yoko does not learn much about herself until the final stretch. For those who enjoy getting lost in multilayered adventures, this epic offers dense and challenging escapism. Ages 13-up. (Mar.)