Skies of Dawn
The Twelve Kingdoms, Volume 4: Skies of Dawn. Fuyumi Ono. Los Angeles: Tokyopop, 2010 hardcover, $19.99, ISBN 978-1598169492. 656 pp. Illustrated by Akihiro Yamada. Translated by Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander. Original in Japanese, Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd., 1994.
Reviewed by Daniel Baird
[This review originally appeared in Mythprint 47:6 (#335) in June 2010.]
Intrigue, spying, disguises and desperation—this new volume by Ono has it all. First there is the return of Yoko from Volume One who is having problems ruling—problems with her ministers, problems with rebellions, problems with her stubborn unicorn and the worst of the worst, she doesn’t know what her first royal edict should be! But Yoko is only one of three main characters in the thickest of the Twelve Kingdoms books. She is joined by Suzu, a girl sold by her poverty-stricken parents in feudal Japan and is swept off to the Kingdom of Sai in a storm. Then there is Shoukei, pampered princess of Hou. Only her father was just murdered and now she is a hated orphan in a village where she throws a self-pity party. In contrast, Suzu is made a lovely immortal and sent to live in a beautiful mountain retreat—oops, as a servant. Immortal, but miserable. Lonely Suzu and pitiful Shoukei both hear about Yoko; the former decides to run away to seek Yoko’s favor to return her to Japan, the latter decides to murder Yoko as punishment for having what she has lost. And that’s just in the first few pages.
I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what Ono was going to surprise me with next. Readers new to the series will find this a wonderful fantasy book. Fans of the Twelve Kingdoms series will drool over this 600+ page treat where we travel through both familiar and unfamiliar places with the trio as they reach for their goals. And of course everyone’s favorite human/rat from Volume One, Rakushun, returns to send all the characters spinning in different directions with his wisdom. Buy it, borrow it, steal it. This is a must read!