Oh wow, was this a great book. It’s been on my radar for a while, so when I was offered an audio copy for review, I was over the moon. I’m trying to up my audio reading game, and BOOM, this showed up. It’s a great story, told by a talented reader, and I found myself listening to it while puttering around the house over the weekend, so I puttered a lot more than usual. It was very timely, as I fell on the ice and twisted my knee, so I had a great excuse to do nothing but stay home and listen to an entertaining story, with a stunningly breathtaking setting.
I took one look at the cover for A Princess in Theory and I wanted to read it. Lusted after it, really. I love the colors and the textures, but most especially I love look of adoration on the models’ faces. I wish someone other than my dogs would look at me like that. Maybe Dean does when I suggest another trip to WDW, but those looks are few and far between (in fairness to him, I am SURE I am just not looking at him and therefore missing those gazes of pure adoration).
I can’t lie – when I saw the title for this book, I was dying to read it. I thought it would be a fun spy caper, kind of like Alley Carter’s books. I had mixed results with this one, mainly because of the protagonist. And you definitely have to suspend disbelief, because some of the plot is so over the top it is hard to swallow.
Dragons. Beasts. Legacies. A teeeeny tiny spoiler, but I don’t think it will ruin anything. Do I really need to sell this book to you, if you have read Burn for Me and White Hot then you KNOW what to expect, kind of. Except it’s better. It’s more. I just hope that there is another book, or some kind of short story after that epilogue. I need more.
Wah! What’s going on here? Yuri’s about to become Mrs Ramses? Now, don’t get me wrong, Ramses is every bit as hunky as Kail, and he looks so gorgeous in his loincloth, but still! Have you no shame, Yuri? Oh, wait, it’s all just a scheme to expose Nakia and Nefertiti’s unlikely alliance as the two old biddies maneuver behind the scenes to change the outcome of the war between their countries.
I thought the art was top-notch in this volume – I love the Egyptian costumes and jewelry. Even the architecture had me longing to dig out some of my old textbooks from the basement – I wanted to be an Egyptologist in my younger days, don’t ya know. I soon realized that I would need to choose another profession if I wanted to be able to keep up my book habit, though, so bean counter I became. It just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?
Yuri’s impulsiveness gives Nefertiti the excuse she’s been looking for to have the young general dragged into her lair like a spider pouncing on a fly, and things aren’t looking so good for Ramses. While he’s being tortured, Yuri has the perfect opportunity to escape and be re-united with Kail. I would have been very disappointed if she had just turned tail and run, but no, she remembers her friends – if Ramses could be called a friend. Anyway, she sets out to match wits with the cruel older woman to force her to release her new play thing. Though I still find that it stretches the imagination that Yuri could be such a tactical genius, she did look exceptionally cool sitting on that camel.
Tsukushi was uncharacteristically decisive in this volume, determined to confront Tsukasa’s mother after she has her son whisked away to New York. What starts as an afternoon connecting with her boyfriend ends with the Domyoji matriarch unsheathing her claws in another show of the family’s wealth. Free tickets to a baseball game spell doom for the young lovers, as Tsukushi is caught on TV catching a record-breaking home run ball. Tsukasa’s evil mother just happens to catch a glimpse of them together, and she sets her minions off to collect her errant son before he does anything else to besmirch the good Domyoji name.
After Tsukasa fails to show at school the next day, Tsukushi realizes that something is up, and soon puts 2 and 2 together. She takes her meager savings, buys a ticket to New York, and is all fired up to duke it out with Tsukasa’s mom. Her good intentions go awry, but she never loses her drive to confront Mrs Domyoji. Despite having her belongings stolen, she remains steadfast and continues to look for a way to both find Tsukasa and to bring him home with her.
I liked this focused Tsukushi, who has finally accepted her feelings for Tsukasa, and more impressively, is determined to fight for him. She’s not going to meekly turn tail and run from the overbearing Domyoji family; instead, she’s going to seek out the intimidating Kaede and try to convince her to send Tsukasa back home. It sounds impossible, even to Tsukushi, but she’s not going to give up without a fight. Go get her, Tsukushi! You can do it!
As the civil war rages on, the horrors of war are witnessed by Roy Mustang. Longing to use his alchemy for the good of others, he is instead forced to use it to bring death and destruction on the Ishbalans. Will he be able to retain his humanity, or will he turn into the monster that his enemies fear?
This was a powerful installment of the series. It was so engrossing, I could not put it down. Hiromu Arakawa delves into the background of several of the characters, and we watch as they learn to deal with the civil war, each in their own way. Roy starts out an idealistic young man, eager to help humanity and to use his alchemy for the good of every one. Instead, he’s thrown into a violent and senseless war, forced to slaughter innocent people for “good” of his nation. Slowly, he’s turned into a bitter, disillusioned soldier, but now he’s turned his eyes on another goal. He longs to knock King Bradley off of his throne, and take up the mantle of leadership. I wonder if, once he attains the top of the rat’s nest, to borrow Hughes’ words, he would still retain any of the good intentions that have slowly been purged away, or would his quest have totally corrupted him?
Both Riza and Armstrong are victims of the war, and their descent into hell is carefully explored as well. Armstrong just doesn’t have the hard-edge necessary to survive in such an environment, and he balks when he’s ordered to murder defenseless civilians. There are plenty of cold-blooded murderers surrounding him to pick up the slack, and he’s not even allowed the satisfaction of saving two helpless refugees. As the slaughter wears on him, he becomes desperate for an escape from the bloodshed.
Riza is more of a puzzle. The daughter of Roy’s former mentor, she’s entered the academy out of a flare of patriotism. Too bad she’s such an excellent marksman. Now she’s a sniper, dispatching Ishbalans with lethal ease. She also carries the secret to flame alchemy, and after seeing Roy’s ruthless powers firsthand, she never wants another to learn the deadly craft. Not only does she bear the guilt of her own assassinations, she also gave Roy the key to mercilessly wipe out helpless women and children with the snap of a finger. She’s willing to go to painful lengths to conceal the secret. Maybe she feels that her sacrifice will bring her a measure of atonement?
I thought the set up for the flashback was very well done; Ed approaches Riza and asks her what happened in Ishbal, all those years ago. Roy had refused to discuss it with him, and certain that there are clues to his own quest hidden in the war, Ed turns to Riza for help. The events were smoothly eased into the storyline, and the tale was told with gripping emotions.
Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 15 will be in bookstores in December.
Even as Tsukushi struggles with her relationship with Tsukasa, she’s shocked to learn that Yuki has fallen head over heels for the womanizing Sojiro. She warns her friend away from certain heartbreak, but Yuki has already decided that she’ll take Sojiro any way she can get him. Tsukushi has troubles of her own, as she learns that her family will soon be moving again. It sucks to be poor!
When Tsukasa continues to voice doubts about her love for him, Tsukushi is forced to publicly declare her feelings for her one time rival. Now that their relationship is out in the open, they can finally act like a couple, and Tsukasa takes his role seriously. Though he’s still difficult and, at times, unreasonable, he’s at Tsukushi’s side whenever she’s in trouble. I like this side of Tsukasa. He’s really trying to make things work. Even though he acts like an overprotective guard dog, his intentions are in the right place; he just doesn’t know a better outlet for his emotions.
I am enjoying the Yuki and Sojiro plot thread that’s been woven into the series. Hopelessly in love with a terribly callow guy, Yuki has decided that she can’t just give up on Sojiro, and she’ll settle for any relationship with him, no matter how fleeting. Sojiro, to his credit, is trying to avoid the temptation she’s offering. He doesn’t want to cause any rifts between himself and his best friend’s girl. I wonder how long that will last, with Yuki constantly throwing herself at him – will she be able to break down the wall of indifference that he’s erected around himself?
Things got a little cheesy near the end, but it wasn’t enough to ruin the overall feeling of the volume. Tsukasa showed again just how serious he is for Tsukushi, even bucking up and joining them on a visit to the local public bathhouse. He surprises Tsukushi by showing her how easily he can fit into her world – now, can she make a better effort to fit into his?