Title: 9th Sleep
Author: Makoto Tateno
May Contain Spoilers
The planet had died once before. On the day of Despaira, a god appeared in the sky and saved the world. His name was King Shishioh. But now with the throne of the king empty, a vicious battle between two brothers is unfolding. Who will ascend the throne?
I have been waiting to read this book for a long time. I actually have the Japanese release because I liked the cover, but with my poor command of the language, owing it hasn’t done me much good. When June announced that they had the license, I was excited because I was finally going to be able to read the story. Then it was delayed, and I started to despair that I would ever get to read it. All is good, because I finally was able to flip through the pages and actually understand what was going on.
9th Sleep tells the story of two brothers who battle through many incarnations for control of the throne of a sky city. Luke possesses the King’s Soul, and he lives in blissful ignorance with his mother. Everyone believes he’s the child of a Maria Possession, and that his mother was virgin when he was born. Conceived through an immaculate conception, he never questions the origins of his birth. He’s really too busy taking care of his ill mother, and when a menacing stranger suddenly appears, intent on killing him, he doesn’t have time to do much other than run away from his would be killer.
I enjoyed the twists on religious convention, and thought that the reincarnation angle was fascinating. What if you were caught in a cycle of birth and death, destined to battle again and again to gain control over a throne that you didn’t even want. Or even remember? As Luke weaves his way from one life to the next, tidbits behind the conflict between Luke and Malchus are slowly revealed. As he progresses through his lives, he keeps questioning the need to battle to the death and wonders how to put an end to the fighting between them.
Makoto Tateno’s elegant art also kept me turning the pages. Her boys are so pretty that I can’t help but be drawn to her books. And all of those gorgeous mops of disheveled hair! Why doesn’t hair look that lustrous in real life? Why have my locks never had even a fraction of the body and thickness that these guys have in abundance?
I love the contrast of the cover, too, with Luke holding a blossom in one hand and reaching up to touch the sword that Malchus is holding at his throat. The burst of red from the flower and the jewel in the weapon grabbed my attention, and I think the hues on the cover make a very striking picture. It’s what drew me to the book in the first place.
Complete in one volume, 9th Sleep offers an intriguing fantasy featuring an intense rivalry between two brothers. A diverting read with plenty of pretty illustrations, this book will appeal to both Makoto Tateno and fantasy fans.
Review copy provided by June