One Thousand and One Nights 11

August 15, 2010

Han SeungHee / Jeon JinSook – Yen Press – 2010 – 11 volumes

YES. A couple more bonus stories. I love that the characters tell stories to each other as a matter of course, and even within the context of a story, they tell other stories to illustrate their point.

There’s lots of Shahryar and Sehara, of course. They get their wishes and everything. But as soon as they met up, I had to wonder where the rest of the book was going, because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to put up with a whole volume of the two of them living happily ever after.

Luckily, they tell one last story. It’s wonderful. It belongs to Shahryar.

It’s set in the modern day, which I found interesting after the writer’s commentary on the Korean retelling of Romance of the Three Kingdoms for modern times in the last volume. Now, the stories always reflect, in some way, the situation that’s happening in the main storyline. But this one actually had all the same characters in it, too. Fatima and Shazaman were there, as was Jafar and Maseru. And of course, Shahryar and Sehara were the main characters. It’s basically a modern retelling of the story. Except there’s still a fictional bend to it, since the characters are supposed to be the reincarnations of Shiva (Shahryar) and Kama (Sehara). Kama is trying to stop modern Shiva from destroying the world by helping him to fall in love with the girl of his dreams, which is, of course, Fatima.

Except Shahryar is a complete loser and a genuine stalker, so Sehara has his work cut out for him.

Also, characters in modern times are far less appreciative of storytelling than they were in the past. Sehara tries to tell Shahryar the story of Zeus and Europa by way of explaining the constellation Taurus, and all sorts of things go wonderfully wrong.

Of course, we know the end. But it was getting there that makes it fun. In both stories for this volume. It even ends open, with a framing device of Sehara’s memoirs being read as some sort of bodice ripper by teenage girls in a boarding school, presumably hundreds of years later. It was a strange ending, especially when their mother/the schoolmistress takes the book and begins reading it herself, with English text that is inexplicably about Canada.

Anyway, everything about this series was wonderful. I loved the main story, I love the way Shahryar turned from a tyrant to a lover through the course of the series, I loved the role switch at the end, I loved the art, and I loved the way Sehara always made his point with a well-told story, which were almost always just as good as the main story. The romantic parts weren’t bad, either. Nor was the unique middle eastern setting. I was thoroughly satisfied with the ending here, too.

Highly recommended.

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