REVIEW: ‘Requiem of the Rose King,’ Volume 12

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Requiem of the Rose King

When the June solicits came in from VIZ Media, I decided to take a chance on Requiem of the Rose King Volume 12, despite never having read the series, because of the cover art alone. When I dove in from chapter one, I kept reading until chapter 55, the end of this volume. I couldn’t put down this manga from mangaka Aya Kanno because of how beautifully she has adapted works from William Shakespeare in a way that created a gothic fairytale as much as a story of kingship power struggles from the War of the Roses.

If you’re unfamiliar with the War of the Roses — a story that serves the basis for many fantasy stories, namely Game of Thrones — the Kingdom of England is torn between the House of York and the House of Lancaster with each claiming their leader to be the rightful king. Based on Henry VI and Richard III this series centers on Richard. His father, the patriarch of the House of York, is poised to become king of medieval England during the bloody Wars of the Roses. But just as success is imminent, he is abruptly cut down. Plunged into despair, Richard acts out in revenge and must face a powerful and beautiful new enemy.

But while this political discord is a driving force of Requiem of the Rose King, it’s Prince Richard’s battle within himself that makes the story strive. Despised by his mother but adored by his father, Richard is alienated from most others. The story thus far has showcased his dynamic character as he grapples with the frightful spirits haunting him, and how the world sees him as a demon. At this point in the story, Richard has fallen in love with his right-hand man and the two have set to make him king but have had to subdue the sitting king’s mother and her alliance with Hastings.

Now, in Requiem of the Rose King Volume 12, having taken care of Hastings’s interference, Richard and his allies consolidate power all while he is haunted by the ghost of his beloved Henry. Meanwhile, King Edward V’s coronation day is decided and for entertainment, a hunt is arranged. But, behind the scenes, the king and the royal princes have concocted a murderous plot with Richard in his sights. Beyond that, we learn more about the assassin that has been stalking Richard, and he does too.

Requiem of the Rose King Volume 12 is a climactic volume. In it, we see Richard solidifying his power and we begin to understand just how much he has changed from before. This volume also marks the last of the volumes currently out and as the last one, it packs a lot in. There is a sense that Richard has come into his own identity, and not just embracing that people call him a “demon” as he did in previous volumes. No, here, Richard believes that he should be king and Kanno showcases this growth in self-esteem beautifully.

Richard is a character that holds pain and sorrow but for the last few volumes has been fighting it back and trying to live in the warmth he’s found in Warwick’s arms, and use the confidence instilled in him to claim his throne. The ending of Requiem of the Rose King Volume 12 is so open that it doesn’t feel like an ending at all and instead leaves you wanting to see more of Richard and his new kingly life, and of course, the specter of Henry that hangs over them.

In addition to the story, Requiem of the Rose King Volume 12’s art continues Kanno’s striking gothic visual storytelling. The art is intimate, dark, and the costuming of the characters is both unique and period-based. The way Richard and his dark clothes and horned mask are situated against the fantastical and bright fantasy for Edward’s hunt with masks and fairy-like costumes.  Beauty is something Kanno has nailed from the start of the series and it remains in this volume.

Overall, Requiem of the Rose King Volume 12 is a great read. Consisting of 55 chapters, this series is a great read for those looking for politics, romance, and the supernatural all in a period setting. While there are many iterations of The Bard’s work, none are quite like this.

Requiem of the Rose King Volume 12 is available now from booksellers.

Requiem of the Rose King Volume 12
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TL;DR

Overall, Requiem of the Rose King Volume 12 is a great read. Consisting of 55 chapters, this series is a great read for those looking for politics, romance, and the supernatural all in a period setting. While there are many iterations of The Bard’s work, none are quite like this.