by Tomomi Yamashita; adapted by Sheldon Drzka
published by DC/CMX Manga; $9.99 US
Argent, the Royal Apothecary, has left the princess in order to seek a cure for his condition of being a living toxin.
He’s learned a process that may remove the poisons from his body, but leaving the country has branded him a traitor. Meanwhile, the princess has been traveling around her realm to better know how her subjects live. When the two reunite, the princess is working in the fields, and she’s so distracted — and Argent somewhat changed — that she doesn’t recognize him.
It’s a hoary idea, but somehow it fits right in with the medieval fantasy setting. The writer needs something to keep the two characters apart, now that the “oh, no, our love is forbidden because if we touch, you die” aspect is gone. Now it’s just class differences that separate the two, although those seem minimal when the princess is hanging around at the farm. However, that isn’t the biggest obstacle: The princess is also engaged to the prince of a neighboring country as a means of creating a stronger nation, and her wedding is soon. As the book continues, the early comedy becomes soap opera as various factions plot and scheme to take over during the country’s transition.
There are some nice cliffhangers and reveals that reverse the meaning of previous scenes, and I like the character expressions. The princess, especially, is drawn with a blend of youth, power, and cuteness that wraps up the contradictions of her character well. And her fiance, Prince Lorca, is a surprisingly strong player who’s made me fonder of him than I want to be. I’m not as big a fan of the political machinations that keep wandering into the story, but I guess the characters need something to do while hiding from and figuring out how to handle their feelings. It does set up a potent cliffhanger for the next book, due in June 2010. (The publisher provided a review copy.)
Update: (5/21/10) With the closure of CMX, unfortunately, that cliffhanger will not be resolved. Buyer beware.