Rummanah Aasi
 Dawn of Arcana has been on my manga reading list for quite some time. The series is now complete with thirteen volumes. It is also my first foray into fantasy shoujo and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This review is for all thirteen volumes.

Description: Princess Nakaba of Senan is forced to marry Prince Caesar of the enemy country Belquat, tantamount to becoming a hostage. While Caesar is pleasing to the eye, he is also selfish and possessive, telling Nakaba outright: “You are my property.” With only her attendant Loki at her side, Nakaba must find a way to cope with her hostile surroundings, her fake marriage...and a mysterious power!

Review: Dawn of Arcana is a light fantasy that has the usual tropes of a shoujo manga. The plot is very easy to follow and the characters are quite likable. The heroine, Nakaba, has been discriminated all of her life. Her grandfather denies her royal status and stows her away in a tower where she is treated poorly by many except her loyal servant Loki. Nakaba is a strong heroine, a person always seeing the good in everyone. She has been gifted a power called the Arcana, which allows her the ability to see the past and the future. She struggles to find a balance to use her gift to make a good decision rather than abusing it.
  In another kingdom,
Caesar is born as the second son to the king of Dequat. His desirable black hair makes people believe he is fit to be the next king. There is hidden deceptions and factions working to make Caesar the next king. Caesar doesn't crave power, but just wants the love of his family. He is played like a pawn in the politics of the castle and thus grows into a young man who has a negative outlook and distrust of people. Caesar is not a great guy we are first introduced to him, but I like the way his character changes throughout the series. He really grows up and takes his role as a prince seriously and fights for Nakaba.
  Nakaba and
Caesar were married only to keep a treaty between the two warring kingdoms. At first Nakaba and Caesar have an antagonistic relationship, but it slowly develops into trust, loyalty, friendship and eventually love to  much of the kingdoms surprise and disgust. Their relationship is tested the true motives behind their respective kingdoms are revealed as well as their individual opinions on how the Aijin should be treated. Aijin are creatures who share traits with various animals with uncanny fighting abilities and skills. Due to their physical appearance, they are horribly treated and used as slaves.
 This series also has a great cast of secondary characters that are given sufficient page time, well flushed out and quite complex as the story continues. I absolutely loved Loki, Nakaba's Aijin servant, who I couldn't quite figure out. I loved reading about his background and the surprise ending which fits everything quite nicely. The artwork is also quite stunning and it was easy to differentiate all the different characters, which can be difficult sometimes in mangas. I highly recommend Dawn of Arcana to anyone who enjoys fantasy with a nice romance and a strong heroine.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution:  There is some violence, brief nudity and scenes of sensuality in the later volumes. Recommended for teens and up.

If you like this book try: Arisa by Natsumi Ando, Sakura Hime by Arina Tanemura
2 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    " it was easy to differentiate all the different characters, which can be difficult sometimes in mangas."

    YAY! That's one of the main issues I have when I pick up graphic novels (which I know are different from mangas), and one of the things I struggled with in Ares a few weeks ago. Glad to know everyone is easily recognizable in this one, that would definitely make the story flow more smoothly for me:)

  2. Hm... this one sounds like it would be quite interesting to me. I love the sound of the characters especially when there are great secondary characters too!

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