Kaoru Mori is best known for Emma, an exquisite romance/slice-of-life set in Victorian England. Her latest work to be released in the United States, A Bride’s Story, is also a historical/slice-of-life but is vastly different than Emma. Set in Central Asia in a rural town near the Caspian Sea during the early 19th century, A Bride’s Story revolves around a young woman, Amir, who arrives from a distant village across the mountains to marry Karluk, a boy 8 years her junior. Volume 10 has been released, and you can read on for the review. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)
Back Cover Blurb
Karluk has left home to become a man! For four months, he’s off to learn falconry from Amir’s brothers, living with them at their winter camp. As his training commences, what will Karluk learn about himself, and Amir, in the process?
Now that Pariya is safely married, the focus returns to our original couple, Amir and Karluk. As one would expect from a series called “A Bride’s Story,” their marriage has primarily been told from Amir’s perspective. However, Mori-sensei makes an interesting shift by having Karluk live with his Halgal in-laws for several months.
This is an interesting turn of events considering the trouble Amir’s father brought upon Karluk’s hometown. Or perhaps Karluk used that past offense to pressure his in-laws into accepting his request. At any rate, Mori-sensei doesn’t spend time rehashing hard feelings. Rather, Karluk’s focused on growing stronger as a man so he won’t suffer the same indignity of helplessness that he did during the attack on the town. And Azel and his two sidekicks are quite willing to teach the boy their skills.
Thus, the narrative, which has explored several exclusively female realms, now gives a taste of a male-dominated realm. Karluk’s not a new bride, but he’s leaving the familiarity of home to join a markedly different community. Readers learn about the Halgal’s nomadic lifestyle as Karluk does, and his lessons in archery and falconry are informative as well as a feast for the eyes.
And of course, Karluk is hanging out with these fine male specimens because–even after all these volumes–he still looks like a kid. Which means his well-meaning wife treats him like a kid. The age gap is awkward for Amir, but it’s worse for Karluk. Although the two manage to talk through Karluk’s insecurities, I, like Karluk, hope he catches up to Amir soon.
Then the story shifts back to the luckless Mr. Smith, who has somehow reached Ankara in one piece. As he meets with his English colleague Hawkins, we get a picture of the military tensions flaring up in the region. Considering Mr. Smith’s lack of fighting skills and his recent run-in with bandits, I expected him to take his friend’s advice to return to England. However, he chooses to stay. While the scholarly basis of his resolve is somewhat unbelievable, it doesn’t compare with the astronomical improbability of his unexpected reunion with Talas.
Considering all that has gone wrong for Talas and Smith, both are overdue for some good luck. And obviously readers would also like for the pair to has a happily ever after. However, the previously insurmountable barriers of disapproving relatives and distance vanish in a flash, and suddenly, Talas and Smith are free to be together. While the circumstances that reunite the pair seem just a bit too convenient, uncertainty still shadows their future, especially with war brewing in the region.
Extras include Mori-sensei’s manga style afterword.
After multiple scenes of girls embroidering their dowry, how about one of a guy hunting pelts for a bride price? Karluk goes to spend a few months with his in-laws, and Azel and Company teach the boy the skills required of a man in the high plains. Even though the series is called “A Bride’s Story,” it makes a fun shift to the groom’s perspective in Mori-sensei’s tale of Central Asia.
First published at the Fandom Post.