by Kaoru Mori; adapted by William Flanagan
published by Yen Press; $16.99 US
My fear that Kaoru Mori was going to follow anthropologist Mr. Smith away from the original bride Amir is thankfully not justified. As the series continues, the story sprawls, with chapters introducing new characters as Smith meets them as well as other chapters continuing to follow life with Amir.
As the book opens, we see more of what has happened with Amir’s family after they were unable to capture her back. Their reputation is damaged, which might ultimately result in the tribe being unable to survive, so emissaries are sent to make new alliances. It’s a reminder of how the kinds of relationship choices we think of as food for soap opera — should she marry him? will they stay together? — can lead to life and death in this raw environment.
Mori draws her characters’ outfits and settings as gorgeously as ever, but new this volume are more wildlife shots. To bring home the point early on, scenes of negotiating tribesmen are intercut with snarling wolves, which have an attractive grandeur. In contrast, to provide more images of a different kind of beautiful wildlife, we’re also shown Amir bathing over several pages.
Also back in the original tribe, the young and grumpy Pariya is being prepared for her own potential marriage. I found it charming that, in spite of her resistance and anger, there’s a young man who appreciates her energy and finds her openness refreshing. It’s a cute reminder that there’s someone for everyone.
Meanwhile, Mr. Smith has encountered the exuberant and overly curious twins Laila and Leily, who live in a fishing village (and are shown on the cover). In addition to catching fish, they’re shopping for grooms, since they need brothers for the two of them in order to stay together. They also want healthy, rich, and handsome men — because if you’re going to dream, why not dream big?
As is typical of the active women in these tales, some potential men may have been put off by their lack of reserve. Their irrepressible high spirits are awfully fun to read about, though. I particularly liked the scene where they’re hearing about how their relatives snared their husbands. They’re also very amusing being trained by their mother to be good wives, in a section that reminds us of how much hard work it took to keep a family clean and fed and happy.
We’re told in the illustrated author’s afterword that the next book will feature the twins’ weddings, which should be great fun. (The publisher provided a review copy.)