I fell in love with this story when I first encountered the anime adaptation several years ago and I'm so pleased that the graphic novels are finally being published in English. Now if VIZ or another worthy publisher would only publish a translation of Sai Yukino's original light novels, which are the source material on which both the anime and graphic novels are based, then I would be truly satisfied! But for now I'm happy to read this version of the story and to enjoy Kairi Yura's beautiful artwork on every page.
Set in Saiunkoku, a fantastical version of Tang-era China, this series follows the adventures of Shuurei, a protagonist reminiscent of Jane Austen's heroines in that she is young, intelligent, strong-willed, and of noble birth--but has very little financially. One day a highly revered advisor to the emperor makes her a tempting offer: become a courtesan and tutor to the aimless nineteen-year-old emperor and convince him to fill his proper role in the government, in exchange for a hefty sum of gold and the chance to greatly influence the most powerful man in the country. Thus her introduction to the complex workings of government and political intrigue--and the even more complex affairs of love and courtship--begins.
This first volume only covers the very earliest chapters of a convoluted but engrossing tale. As the series progresses, Shuurei will continue to encounter many more opportunities and challenges, as well as a fascinating cast of supporting characters. I look forward to following her on her journey for the second time, and I hope this review will encourage others to take a trip to Saiunkoku as well.