In the wake of the previous volume‘s tragedy, Takiko and her warriors are taken in by the Odo, a diverse tribe made up of members from several smaller clans who joined together to rebel against the Rowuns and who, unlike most, believe in the legend of the Priestess of Genbu. Hidden away in the Nassal Forest, a holy refuge with power to turn away the uninvited, the Odo help prepare a ceremony for Soren which allows Uruki to find some peace and to renew his commitment to the Celestial Warriors and, more importantly, to Takiko. Takiko, more determined than ever to save Teg and bring him (along with Hagus) into the fold, camps out at the edge of the forest, waiting for Hagus to decide take a chance on her. Meanwhile, Uruki is visited by the oracle Tai Yi-Jun, who reveals to him the true fate of the Priestess of Genbu–a fate Uruki will do anything to prevent.
After giving poor Takiko a taste of some real jealousy (which of course she strives valiantly to overcome), this story’s primary romance begins to really soar, only to be struck down by Tai Yi-Jun’s revelation to Uruki. The only unfortunate thing about this volume is Uruki’s decision to reject Takiko (just after having reassured her of how much he cares) for the purpose of supposedly keeping her safe from a destiny she knows nothing about and which is absolutely hers to choose. It’s always maddening when someone takes it upon his/herself to limit another person’s choices “for their own good” and this is not made less maddening by the persons involved being fictional. While this is the kind of plot device to be expected in a shojo fantasy, honestly, Watase could have done better. Fortunately, there are enough truly lovely moments (stone warrior Namame’s faithful protection of Takiko, for instance, especially in the face of her supposed “rival,” is utterly charming) to more than make up for it.
Overall, this is another strong volume in a very engaging series that balances romance and adventure more deftly than most.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at PopCultureShock.