Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Bride's Story Vol. 1 by Kaoru Mori

A Bride's Story by Kaoru Mori is a manga that makes me totally geek out over the 19th century Silk Road, pretty much right on par with how obsessed I was with my undergraduate work with art history (focus on Asian art). Where do I even begin? The story is engaging, and though it's not particularly fast-paced, it doesn't lack action. The setting is Central Asia, part of the Silk Road, in the 19th century. There are nomadic herdsmen and tradesmen as well as cities built up at intersections for trade routes. Central Asian horse-people are my absolute favorite cultures, and the history of the Silk Road is one of my favorite topics.

The bride-- Amir-- is a strong woman. She's 20 years old-- 8 years older than her groom-- and from a nomadic tribe in Central Asia. She can hunt (with a bow!), sew, ride, cook, and is quite independent. She surprises her new family all the time with her skills and knowledge, but they also see that she is caring and gentle with her husband and his family.

Karluk is 12 years old, which is a more typical age for marriage (Amir is regarded as a very old bride!), and is the heir to his family's wealth as part of a tradition of ultimogeniture (junior right). Karluk feels compelled to reassure Amir that he does not worry that she is older. He cares for his family and Amir, and often is taken aback by his strong bride (but in a good way!).

The art is absolutely beautiful. I cannot emphasize this enough. Kaoru Mori captured the art and styles of Central Asia wonderfully. I took time to admire the details on the clothing, architecture, and decor. Kaoru Mori made it a point to represent horses that looked like Central Asian horses, and in the notes she specifically refers to the Akhal-teke horse.

Photo by SpiritOfTheDeep on DeviantArt
(Google it, the photo above is a beautiful horse, but alone does not capture how splendid these horses are-- their coats look metallic!!)

She also captures the environment and nature to place even more attention on the setting of the story.

The first volume introduces the characters and poises the story for future events. This really is more of a slice-of-life manga; the chapters are tied together, but they each stand alone as separate stories as well. I finished the first volume, and though I'm eager to read the next, I don't feel like the story left me feeling unsatisfied at all!

A Bride's Story is a great graphic novel for readers who: like an interesting story; appreciate beautiful, detailed art; are interested in a historical fiction set in Central Asia; are Silk Road nerds like me; or are just looking for something new to read that deviates from action-packed or romance manga. I love this manga for its beautiful art, the Silk Road setting, and its awesome female protagonist.

If you're not into 19th century Silk Road, try Emma instead! Emma is set in 19th century Victorian London. It is also by Kaoru Mori, and features an upstairs-downstairs romance. 

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