Bride’s Story 3

January 2, 2013

Kaoru Mori – Yen Press – 2012 – 4+ volumes

I was worried about the shift in protagonist in this volume, but I probably shouldn’t have. Everything I like about this series is still here. Mori still draws an amazing and detailed period piece, and the stories still contain a lot of the minutiae of daily life.

It is a little strange that the perspective switched to Mr. Smith here. His presence was a bit odd to begin with, since he is an observer that doesn’t belong to the village in the first two volumes. Maybe there’s a meta level to him, where he’s supposed to be like the reader and blah blah blah, but he’s not really prominent enough to give him meaning like that. After really getting into a groove with the first two volumes, not only was I upset that the perspective changed to someone not of the culture (I mean, that’s exactly why I’m reading this, after all), but that the narrative was also moving away from the village I was enjoying.

As it turns out, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and I should have had more faith in Mori. I enjoyed the change of scenery immensely, and it was interesting to see how an outsider was treated. Mr. Smith moves on to a larger city where he hopes to connect with a prearranged guide, but winds up having all of his possessions stolen instead. A young woman is in the same predicament when her beloved horse is stolen as well, but he is recovered and the woman, named Talas, offers to put Mr. Smith up at her house until his guide arrives.

Talas’s house is fascinating, as it is only her and her mother-in-law and nobody else around them. The two herd sheep, and the story goes through their daily routine and how their remote lifestyle can sustain the two of them. There’s also an explanation about their family situation, how Talas was wed to four different sons, all of whom passed away, and how an elderly man from nearby frequently comes over to demand Talas as a bride. There’s a rather earnest love story between Talas and Mr. Smith, one that Mr. Smith resists strongly for some time, and one that Talas isn’t sure of herself, since leaving with Mr. Smith would leave her mother-in-law alone.

Later, there’s another scene in the large village with the family from the first two volumes, a large communal meal, and much in the way of good feelings. After that… the feelings aren’t good at all, actually, and the volume ends in a rather bad way for Mr. Smith.

But there’s hope for the next, since it looks like it will be a long overland journey to Ankara. While I wasn’t too happy about the change in scenery before, there’s a lot of charm to meeting new characters and finding out their life stories, and this part of the story is introducing a lot of opportunities for that.

And the art is still exquisite, in case I needed to get into that. I was particularly curious about the dress of Talas and her mother-in-law. It was a point of contention when Amir came to town wearing a different style, so I was curious to see further variations in dress. Talas is very different from Amir, and I’d love to see how many more styles there are.

The fourth volume comes out in a few weeks, but it will likely be a long wait for the fifth. I believe the volumes are annual in Japan.

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