Authour: Jeon JinSeok
Manhwa-ga: Han SeungHee
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: December 2008
Synopsis: “Socrates and Alcibiades must combat intrigue in plague-ravaged Athens when Critias conspires to tear the lovers apart… but the conspiracy does not end with Sehara’s tale. As Shahryar prepares to oust invading Crusaders, a betrayal from within diverts his attention from battle and leaves his kingdom – and Sehara – vulnerable to attack!”
There are very few new releases I await with more anticipation than those of One Thousand and One Nights and volume six is no exception. Sehara’s story continues from where it left off in the previous volume: a love story between Socrates and the beautiful Alcibiades. When war pulls Socrates out onto the battlefield, Alcibiades asks his Uncle to place him in the same group so that he can stay by his lover’s side.
The story of Socrates and Alcibiades is my favourite stories to be told by Sehara since this series’ beginning. The interaction between the two is never short of endearing and I enjoy the fanciful nature this tale takes on recorded fact.
Alcibiades is hilarious, a man possessing as much enthusiasm and self-confidence as he does beauty. His spoiled, somewhat prissy nature is wonderfully balanced with his gender role, not undermining and instead just all coming together to form who he is. Just because he’s allowed many privileges of life, doesn’t mean he won’t pick up a spear to fight, strike hard when he’s been hurt or carry his lover on his back when in need. In contrast, Socrates is much more introverted character prone to starring off into space but it only makes his open dedication to Alcibiades all the sweeter. Boys’ love fans will certainly have no complaints as the story caters to them in near every emotional fashion and does it with charming skill.
While their story takes up the majority of the book, the final few chapters return readers to the Sultan Shahryar and Sehara, whose growing relationship remains delicate but deep. One of the strongest lines in the book is a simple “I don’t know why” from Sehara. Life is peaceful and bountiful for them, with Sehara and his sister finding a good home in the changing Sultan’s palace. Yet suddenly old conspiracies rise to haunt him and Shahryar takes off in a rage to confront his brother in a neighbouring land. Clouded by betrayal, the Sultan doesn’t realize that the English Crusaders are much closer than he thinks, leaving this sixth volume on one heck of a cliffhanger.
Han SeungHee’s artwork is always reason enough to pick up these books which are some of the most beautifully drawn images you’ll find translated in this medium. The character designs are gorgeous, walking a fine line of delicate features on masculine forms and always drawn with consistency and confidence. The artist’s comfortable nature drawing people of various types also keeps the designs diverse and well suited to their character, be it the adorably beautiful Sehara or the eccentric hair a top Socrates’ head, not to mention the numerous background and side characters.
Unfortunately for the artwork in particular, Yen Press’s job on this series hasn’t been up to par with their other releases in a variety of ways. While I do like the consistent nature of their continuation of Ice Kunion (previous releaser of the series)’s designs, it’s still not a very attractive look for a cover. Han SeungHee’s coloured image is the only saving grace. My biggest quip however, with this book in particular, would be the interior where the pages look grainy or faded. Some aren’t as bad as others, and while it could fall to the fault of the source material, it’s still a shame. At the very least, the writing poses no problems and it’s all nicely written to suit the goings-on.
One Thousand and One Nights remains one of my favourite on-going series and volume six continues its tradition to impress without fail. The skillful writing of Jeon JinSeok stands out with the story’s developing characters and delicately woven drama. It’s matched harmoniously with SeungHee’s artwork and both aspects of the book continue to compliment each other in near perfect fashion as far as I’m concerned. With the fate of Shahryar and Sehara returning to centre stage as the story returns to affairs as dangerous as those thought resolved, volume seven scheduled for April 2009 is coming nowhere near fast enough for my eager eyes (though even I can’t help but learn some patience through Sehara’s reposeful story-telling). A continued recommendation.