15 Sep / Ōoku: The Inner Chambers (vol. 4) by Fumi Yoshinaga, translated by Akemi Wegmüller
No men? No problem. Women can and will adjust to anything, including getting quickly used to power! This entertaining gender-bender series – an alternate history of ancient Japan – continues with the ascension of women to all leadership positions, including inheriting the Shogunate.
What begins as “merely a provisional measure of last resort … only until the male population hath regained once more its previous numbers and men can again assume their hereditary titles,” firmly becomes matrilineal law. The Redface Pox remains as virulent as ever, swiftly killing off any male heirs, resulting in the establishment of female domain lords. Lord Iemitsu, who insists she is “a Shogun in name only, and in fact a human sacrifice,” proves to be a just and capable leader, aided by the love of her life, the sterile ex-monk Arikoto who serves her loyally as the Senior Chamberlain of the Inner Chambers.
Arikoto remains the powerful Senior Chamberlain after Iemitsu’s untimely death at just age 27, training and guiding Iemitsu’s young daughter Lady Chiyo from little girl to become fourth Shogun Ietsuna. But she, too, cannot provide a male heir … and suffers unrequited love most of her life; she’s succeeded by her half-sister who becomes the fourth Shogun Tsunayoshi.
Bored with the “dull lot here in the Inner Chambers,” Tsunayoshi figures out how to work the system outside the hallowed palace walls. She’s not above man-stealing, either, as precious as they are. But she’s hardly got the best leadership qualities just yet, party-girl that she is, royal or not … and a sly Kyoto courtier named Emonnosuke, whose handsome face bears quite the resemblance to the legendary Arikoto, finds easy opportunity to become the next Senior Chamberlain of the Inner Chamber.
What’s next for the royal house??!! The waiting game for Volume 5 begins …
For other installments of this surprising series, click here.
Published: 2010 (United States)
Ōoku © Fumi Yoshinaga
Original Japanese edition published by Hakusensha, Inc.