This book was a bit of a surprise to me. I thought it was a full-length novel, and it is…sort of. It’s actually an anthology of short stories that happen in chronological order, featuring the same characters, with recurring themes and scenarios. So it’s kind of like a novel, but different.
1. Thoughts on the plot(s)
These stories follow Komatari and Minoru, two warriors from the Maiden’s army who have now settled in Angers, as well as Rubi, Komatari’s wife, and Natsura, Minoru’s betrothed. These stories all have a tangential food situation, and are about the families settling into Angers and the various situations they encounter. There are difficulties with a festival, family members, people from the past, and so forth. Each story is fully contained, yet fits into the larger picture.
Overall, I would say that these stories were very well crafted. They read like complete stories (yes, I know that’s an odd thing to say, but there are a lot of short stories that sort of just…end) and make sense. I will say that the last story felt out of place with the style of the rest of the stories, as it was more about the past (in previous books) and battle than life in Angers.
2. Thoughts on the characters
I’ve come to meet these characters a little late, as I haven’t read the original series from which they hail. As such, some of the scenarios and character development has already happened beyond my knowledge. Despite not knowing all these detailsI found the characters entertaining and well crafted. I like the interactions they all have in their daily life, and how this manages to create a community within the stories. Minoru is the only one who doesn’t seem to quite fit to me, but I have a feeling that’s to do with the books I haven’t read.
3. Favourite part (or story)
I liked the story about Sateki the best. It was just the right amount of poignant and entertaining, bringing just enough dramatic tension to stand out from the rest of the stories without diverging from the theme and styles of the other stories.
As mentioned in section one, I think the last story in the book doesn’t fit with the rest of the stories. It brings up a massive sense of the past (previous books) that make very little sense for someone who hasn’t read the previous books. It also, thematically and stylistically, is far more militaristic compared to the rest of the stories, making it feel more like a big long description of a battle than any fully-complete story. I like the rest of the stories a lot, just not that one.
Overall, I would say that this book is a good collection of short stories, and I found them entertaining. I think I may not be brave enough to try the recipes, though.