REVIEW: ‘The Abandoned Empress,’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Abandoned Empress Volume 1 - But Why Tho

The Abandoned Empress Volume 1, a new comic, first published online as a webcomic with the original story by YUNA, is adapted and Illustrated by INA. Now published in print by Yen Press, it is in the continuing wave of manhwa from this publisher. Additional publishing credits for this book include translator David Odell and lettering by LYS Blakeslee. This manhwa follows a young woman who receives a second chance at life and wakes up fighting to take destiny into her own hands.

In her previous life, Aristia la Monique carried many titles: she was to be the mother of the empire and help guide the kingdom’s future as royalty. She was the child of prophecy, raised to be the companion of the future emperor until that future was snatched away from her. From childhood, she studied and trained for the role of a lifetime until Jieun, a girl from another world, took her place. She’s humiliated and unjustly experiences tragedy after tragedy until her short life comes to an end. After her execution, she encounters the God of her world and is given a second chance at life. Soon she unexpectedly wakes up in her ten-year-old body and boldly claims that she won’t be the same person she was before; she rejects destiny and will make her own!

Rereading the start of Arista’s journey is thrilling and fast-paced: I love the Isekai genre, and all the female characters led reincarnation and regression stories that come with it. The narratives in this genre that have characters traveling back not just a few years but back to their actual childhoods have always intrigued me and The Abandoned Empress holds a charm that not many of them can hold a candle to. Seeing Arista meet the first member of her friend circle—who will go on to be great figures in the empire—something she was denied in her first life is hilarious and it is endearing.

Following along to see her surprised by the depth of her father’s love for her—something she didn’t experience until too late in her past life—is as heartbreaking and as it is wholesome. In the same light, we witness the beginnings of the complicated relationship between Ruveliss and Arista. Ruveliss will one day become the emperor and cause the ruin of Arista’s family and ultimately bring about her death. It’s an interesting piece of the story to follow, especially now that he’s just a child, like herself.

The Abandoned Empress Volume 1 features some of the most gorgeous, polished art I’ve seen in webcomics in the last few years. If you’re a big fan of attention to detail attached to shojo-esque artwork or even the elaborate costuming in comics set in historical settings, you will not be disappointed! There’s nothing that I don’t love and appreciate: detailed backgrounds, vivid coloring, aptly placed sound effects, and deliberate paneling to empathize emotional turns for different scenes. From the fully colored pages throughout the book to the book cover with glittery details and the extra double-page spread colored illustration at the beginning of the book, I loved reading this comic from front to back, and I imagine you will too.

I will note that the age rating for this comic is set at Yen Press’ “Older Teen” rating, which encompasses 16 to 18-year-olds. This is important in The Abandoned Empress Volume 1, as there are several dark events in Artsita’s previous life that would not be appropriate for younger readers. Thankfully, most of them are implied and happen off the page, but for readers, that doesn’t take away the horror of the injustices that our lead character has faced, the trauma she still carries, even being a regressor. Plot-wise, it should allow readers to have a place of context to understand just why Artista is so damned determined to make a new life for herself (and hopefully help us also validate her irrational decisions in later volumes).

The Abandoned Empress Volume 1 is such a solid start to this well-polished and drama bomb-worthy Korean webcomic that thankfully is now in print. Yen Press is doing such great work on the manhwa front. Their dedication to bringing us this title and future webcomics excites me and gives me hope that more Korean comics will have an even more extensive reach offline and in print.

The Abandoned Empress Volume 1 is a compelling manhwa of a young woman striving to escape the shackles of prophecy no matter the odds. With an intriguing premise, jaw-dropping art, an impressive lineup of supporting characters, this first volume is worth its weight in gold. But, most importantly, Arista has proved herself to be a character worth following as she is dropped into a world of impossible odds of hierarchy, royalty, and schemes galore. Yet, she is set on making her own way and her own destiny, never following a path chosen for her ever again.

The Abandoned Empress Volume 1 is available now from Yen Press.


The Abandoned Empress Volume 1
5

TL;DR

With an intriguing premise, jaw-dropping art, an impressive lineup of supporting characters, this first volume is worth its weight in gold. But, most importantly, Arista has proved herself to be a character worth following as she is dropped into a world of impossible odds of hierarchy, royalty, and schemes galore. Yet, she is set on making her own way and her own destiny, never following a path chosen for her ever again.