Manga Read Along: Red River Vol. 22 – State of De-Nile

It’s been a month but I’m finally back. After dealing with a family issue, another set of health problems with my senior dog and a vitamin deficiency, I am ready to resume my in depth look at Red River. When I originally started this feature, I was on track to get the whole series done before the end of the year. I plan to keep that promise because we have just seven volumes left and the final volume, number 28, actually wraps up the plot in a few dozen pages. The rest of the book is filled with supplementary stories that I don’t think I will dive too deeply into.

We are going to stomp on the gas and git’er done. As always these summaries contain copious amounts of spoilers. If you need to review the previous volumes, all the links are conveniently collected in the archive .

The volume opens up with Nefertiti gloating over Ramses’s suffering. Yuri’s coup attempt frightened the pharaoh badly enough that he demands his release to put down the rebellion, but the queen digs in her heels. She feels secure in her power and thinks she can ignore a royal command. Ramses is at his limit. The sun bakes him and he hasn’t had any food or water in days.

Continue reading “Manga Read Along: Red River Vol. 22 – State of De-Nile”

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Manga Read Along: Red River Vol. 21 – Walk Like An Egyptian

Spoilers! Need to know what’s happened in earlier volumes? Check the archive for previous recaps.

 

Now that Nakia has been revealed to be conspiring against Kail with the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, Kail has had enough. Aiding a foreign power against the Hittites is treason and the charge is serious enough that he can force the senate to strip her of all authority. First, he has to gather more evidence. The tablet he got from Zora is unsigned and he only has the soldier’s word that he was sending it to her. Kail’s case has to be air tight as she will talk her way out of the charges if there is any ambiguity as to her guilt. Neither will he risk the legal structure of the empire by ignoring the law and decreeing her a traitor without a fair trial.

Back in Memphis, Ramses’ mother outfits Yuri in an Egyptian wedding gown. This dress is probably the most intricately drawn one she’s worn in the series so far with all the bead work on the waist and collar. The folds of the skirt alone must have taken hours to draw. Nefert has a keen eye for reading people and she is skeptical that Yuri wants to go through with the marriage. Yuri tells her that she desires it, but she doesn’t say out loud that she’s only doing it to meet Nefertiti.

Yuri, of course, has no intention of going through with it and she is a little worried that Ramses will try to force her to be his wife for real. Ramses takes Yuri by boat to Thebes to meet the queen and all the people gather to see what kind of woman he is marrying. She is dressed to impress and walks into the palace the very picture of poise and calm even though she knows she about to face a woman as treacherous as Nakia. Perhaps more so.

Unfortunately, the pharaoh briefly saw Yuri once before with Kail and mentions that she looks familiar to him. Ramses distracts the pharaoh and introduces Yuri as Naptera. Nefertiti questions if Yuri is really a suitable bride to Ramses and he assures the dowager queen that no one suits him better. Nefertiti then accuses him before the court of acting like he plans to overthrow the pharaoh and take the throne by force since he’s declined to marry into the royal family several times. Ramses denies it with a laugh but Nefertiti isn’t fooled.

Later, Ramses explains that Nefertiti has way too much power – more so than their weak pharaoh even though there is little legal basis for her authority. He believes that it is best that he removed her immediately, take over the country and install Yuri as his queen. Then he throws her on the carpet and tries to molest her again. What is this? The tenth time? She complains of stomach pain and Ramses relents to go get a doctor for her. As he leaves, she sticks out her tongue to indicate she was faking it to get him to stop.

I’m actually proud of her. Yuri is politically savvy but this is the first time she’s been able to manipulate a guy outside of pure political context. It only took her twenty volumes to learn so I’ll say it again. She’s smart about a lot of things but when it comes to men, she can be really stupid.

In the days leading up to the wedding, Nefert takes Yuri to see all the temples in Thebes to pray for her marriage’s success. While they walk around the city, she sees all the beggars and refugees in the marketplace, all dirty and half starving. She wonders if it would be good for the country if Ramses was in charge and tried to clean up the corruption and neglect. A hungry urchin gets caught stealing food from one of the temples and the priest orders his hand cut off. Yuri intervenes. First she tries reasoning with them that a punishment is too harsh for a small child, but when they refuse to show mercy, Yuri draws her sword and fights her way to the kid. Four cloaked people keep the other priests from overwhelming her and Yuri returns the boy to his mother.

Her rescuers whip off their disguises. It’s the sisters and Ilbani. They have a warm reunion and Ilbani explains to Nefert that they are traveling musicians sent by Yuri’s family to play at the wedding. The high priest threatens Yuri but she throws some shade on him to tell him he doesn’t scare her. The other people at the bazaar throw rocks at him. The merchants and other common folk praise Yuri for her brave deed as they are tired of living under the tyrannical, self-serving clergy. Yuri’s popularity only enhances their regard for Ramses.

Back at the estate, Ramses threatens to have Ilbani and the sisters arrested as spies but Ilbani talks him out of it by dangling the possibility to prove Nefertiti is a traitor. This will give Ramses a pretext for her removal. Ilbani promises that Kail is willing to offer his assistance to stop Nefertiti because if Nefertiti falls, so shall Nakia. Ramses agrees to cooperate but he warns that this doesn’t mean the Hittites and Egyptians will call off their war.

Just as they are making plans to isolate Nefertiti, General Djoser, one of Ramses’s rivals in the military, shows up to arrest Yuri. The priest she fought in the marketplace squealed and pharaoh wants her brought in for subversive activities. Ramses refuses and ends up getting arrested instead. The general seems to forget all about Yuri and when she protests, Ramses tells her not to call attention to herself and make them arrest her as well. He thinks that Nefertiti really wanted to jail him all along and that making him defend Yuri would give her the pretext to do it.  

As Djoser leads Ramses away, his family starts turning on Yuri for getting their brother arrested. Nefert stands up for her and reassures them that the dowager queen doesn’t have a case she can convict him on. Before Yuri can go running off to the palace to testify to his innocence, Ilbani stops her and tries to get her run out on Ramses and return to Hattusa. Yuri has to think for a moment. One hand she really wants to return to Kail, but on the other, she feels like she owes Ramses. Of course, like a chump, she decides to save the dog rather than herself.  

Nefertiti has Ramses tied out in the sun and whipped. She offers him a chance to get out of his situation by pledging loyalty to her, but he refuses. Nefertiti plans to kill him before his trial as she views him as the only thing standing between her and complete control of the country.

Ilbani, ever the clever tactician, tells Yuri that the only way to free Yuri is to stir up a rebellion. The Egyptians are hurting for military leadership and if the city starts rioting, the pharaoh will have no choice but to let Ramses go so her can put it down. There is a town not far from Thebes that has had several food riots and Ilbani tells Yuri to go there and stir up trouble. Yuri gets boat from Nefert and sets out to create a rebellion against the pharaoh. She doesn’t have much time. Ramses is strong but the sun is mercilessly baking him and Nefertiti allows him no water.

As Ilbani promised, the town is a powder keg ready to go off. The locals are forced to slave in the mines even though there is no food. The man who led the last uprising is about to be executed. The mayor thinks it will make everyone too scared to fight, but it’s only making them madder. Yuri quickly finds a bunch of malcontents and organizes them to disrupt the execution. She manages to put together a small army of angry, hungry laborers and quickly overthrows the mayor and his underlings. Then she begins marching toward Thebes, her army growing at each town she passes. Hunger is widespread and people are ready to demand better from their leadership.

Pharaoh blows a gasket when he hears that a mob is coming to his doorstep. He demands Nefertiti release Ramses so he can take care of the problem, but she refuses. She tells him not be such a coward that he’d show fear to a rabble. This makes him quiet angry with her.

Yuri and her rebels face off against General Djoser. Her ranks seem to fall apart quickly, but it was a ruse. Yuri had half her rebels sneak up behind the Egyptian army. Caught between her two units, the rebels make quick work of Djoser’s men. After claiming the victory, Yuri sneaks back to Ramses’ estate. She learns that the plan ultimately failed. Nefertiti still refuses to release Ramses even though the city is at risk of being overrun by the uprising. Yuri resolves that she has no other option but to confront the dowager queen directly.

 

Tales of Remnas is Leaving the Kindle Unlimited Program

I have an important announcement for readers that discovered my books through the Kindle Unlimited program. When I debuted last year, I decided to enroll The Tales of Remnas series in Kindle Unlimited, making the novels Amazon exclusive. After experiencing the benefits and limitations of exclusivity first hand, I have decided to begin unenrolling the books. Next year, hopefully by Valentine’s Day, the series will be available at most major ebook retailers and will be more discoverable to readers.

Here are the dates that each book will be leaving:

Flower on the River- November 28th, 2017

Flower Among the Ashes- January 19th, 2018

When the Crow Smiles – January 23, 2018

Flower in the Gale – February 4th, 2018

Keep in mind the books will still be available for purchase on Amazon, they will just not be included with your KU subscription.

TGIF NSFW: King Kong Vs. Godzilla Reimagined as Trashy Kindle Romance

This post is not safe for work. Please enjoy responsibly.

It never ceases to astound me what bizarre genres seem to be a thing on Kindle. Last week, I happened across my first furry romance. I wonder if there is a market for kaiju romance?

Well, darn. This is a thing too!

kaiju

Enjoy this parody of the 1960’s monster show down movie King Kong Vs. Godzilla while I go weep in a corner.

King Kong Vs. Godzilla: A Kaiju Romance

When a giant fire-breathing lizard when breaks free from a glacier and starts terrorizing Tokyo, the Japanese government comes up with a bold plan. Sending an expedition team to a remote Pacific island, they encounter King Kong, a giant ape worshipped as a god by the local tribes. Stunning him with octopus vemon, they fly him back to Japan to set the two colossuses on each other.

When the angry – yet lonely – gorilla lays eyes on Godzilla, it’s not the urge to kill that overwhelms his simian heart but love at first sight. It is the first time he’s ever seen a creature as big as he and Godzilla is whole ‘lotta lizard woman. But Godzilla is hard to impress. Kong might be able to bench press the Empire State Building and his masculine hairiness makes even her cold blood run hot, but she isn’t about to lay eggs for just anyone. She must test his strength to see if he is worthy of claiming her scaly hand in monster marriage.

After a whirlwind romance of boulder valley ball, the two monsters get to wrestling in middle of the capital. Only it seems that Godzilla wants to be pinned. Their ominous roars echo over the evacuated city but they don’t sound angry. The Japanese Self Defense Force realizes that their plan has gone horribly awry and they face the prospect of becoming a breeding ground for an ungodly ape-lizard hybrid. As the mobilize to throw everything they have at the two giant monsters will this unlikely love story turn into a tragedy or will Kong be able to protect his new mate and egg litter?

Manga Read Along: Red River Vol. 20 – Putting Lipstick on a Pig

Spoilers, Spoilers, Spoilers. Want the summaries of earlier volumes? Check out the archive.

An injured Yuri is now in Ramses hands. As they float down the Nile, Ramses asks her how she likes the river but she is unresponsive. Rusafa tries to get her to eat or drink something but she doesn’t want it. Yuri is still consumed by her grief over her miscarriage and can’t get up the will to care what happens next.

 When they reach Memphis, Ramses carries her into his estate. His sisters watch from the shadows and speculate if Yuri is the girl he has been obsessed with. When they are in their assigned quarters, Rusafa starts plotting how to get a letter back to Kail. He hopes that if Kail wrote to Yuri, it might snap her out of her fugue state. As he sneaks through the estate, he gets caught by two of Ramses’s sisters. The elder one, Nefert, pegs him as a soldier right away despite his claims to be a merchant. She even guesses he’s a high ranking archer from his calloused fingers.

Did I mention that Nefert is one of the coolest characters in the whole series?

While Rusafa is away, Ramses decides to play. He pounces on the despondent Yuri. He kisses her and threats to rape her but she just lays there like a doll. Concerned by her passivity, he climbs off of her. He is so gross. There is just no getting around it. Ramses is a terrible person and nothing can redeem that at this point. Who in their right mind would think doing that to someone already in a deep depression was a good idea?

Nefert tells Ramses that Kail is rumored to be in ill health ever since the defeat at Ugarit. He goes back to Yuri’s room and tells her this news and claims the Hittites teeter on the brink of defeat. I think this is Ramses being well meaning as it’s meant to light Yuri’s fire – but it just comes across as cruel and insensitive. And this is supposed to the redemption of his character in this arc. But did I mention how innately awful he is?

But it works. Yuri shows a spark of life at last as her fear for Kail overcomes the black cloud of depression. Yuri has another revelation. For the Egyptians to know this, they must have a spy in the heart of the Hittite court with free access to the palace. It sickens her to think that one of the people she trusts might be a turn coat but she demands Ramses let her go home. The burst of energy makes her collapse and Ramses says she will stay with him because she is still weak. He does compromise with her and agrees to help her find the Egyptian that the spy reports too. This person must reside in the Pharaoh’s court.

This is part of Ramses’s campaign against internal corruption. In the court, the aristocrats and officials jockey for personal power and gain. Ramses believes he must clean things up and instill discipline. The reigning Pharaoh is weak and incompetent and the nobles try to undermine him and grow more influential. Ramses thinks the spy master is using their spy and not sharing the intel with the Pharaoh, thus undermining both the Egyptians and the Hittites. Here we are supposed to think Ramses is all about good government and would make a wise and responsible king – kind of like Kail. Ramses is a groping, sexually harassing pig and the comparison is just made all the more awkward in light of what Kail did back in volume 12. Y’know, that attempted rape nobody wants to talk about any more.

Ramses gives Rusafa back his sword and charges him with keeping Yuri from storming off  to the palace. He also instructs him to safeguard her with his life.

 The servants dress Yuri and one of the girls splashes water on the hem of her gown. They are mortified and beg her forgiveness. When Yuri is nonchalant about the accident, they are shocked that Yuri didn’t order the servant punished with at least several days with no food. Nefert comes into the chamber and inspects her up close, trying to suss out what attracts Ramses.

Ramses comes back from an afternoon out with a lead on a go-between for the spy and court. To catch him as he sails back and forth along the Nile, Ramses and Yuri take the barge out on the river. Nefert and Rusafa accompany them. They stay on the trail of a suspicious barge long enough to get their notice. Thinking quick, Nefert dives into the water and starts playing around with Yuri. The other barge thinks they are just the bored rich out for an ideal afternoon on the water.

The barge sails into the palace of Nefertiti, the dowager queen of Egypt, and this fact makes Ramses think she is the mastermind. Yuri remembers that she is really Prince Mattiwaza’s sister, Tatukia, who was forced to marry the old Pharaoh for political reasons. When they are alone, Yuri begs Rusafa to escape and go back to Hattusa so he can warn Kail about the spy. Rusafa refuses to leave her alone and undefended in a foreign land. Yuri continues to argue that the spy might in time become an assassin. He relents and vows to reach Kail before the spy can act.

That night, Rusafa disguises himself as an Egyptian soldier and gets all the way to the river before he is caught by real soldiers. Ramses anticipated the move and shows up at the right time, claiming Rusafa is his aide to keep him from being arrested. To Rusafa’s surprise, Ramses tells him to go to Kail and let him know Yuri is alive. He doesn’t do it for her sake but because he wants Kail strong and at the peak of health so when they fight again, Ramses’s victory will not be because he had an unfair advantage.

In Hattusa, Rusafa is given a warm welcome and his return even lifts Kail’s spirits. He tells the king everything: that Yuri is alive but lost the baby and remains in Ramses’s custody. Kail is saddened by the loss of the child but relieved that Yuri lives. Determined to free her, Kail orders the troops to assemble and push back against the Egyptians as his groove comes roaring back. Rusafa begs him to dismiss everyone else from the room. When they are alone, he reveals that one their inner circle is most likely a spy to Kail.

Back in Egypt, Yuri is treated like a queen but even during the pampering (which she finds over the top) she plots to meet Neferititi. While Yuri is being massaged, Ramses intrudes and starts groping her naked body. He promises if she’ll kiss him, he’ll arrange for her to meet the dowager queen. She refuses, but he forces it on her anyway. What a pig.

Later, when Nefert barges into her room and gets her out of bed in the morning, Yuri learns how Ramses is accomplishing this. He’s put the word all over town that he’s marrying Yuri and Nefert wants to help plan the wedding. Yuri is very cross and goes to give Ramses an ear full but can’t berate him because his mother there. She is truly happy her son has found someone and Yuri doesn’t have the heart to tell her the truth. Ramses later explains that his family is so high ranking the royal family must attend their wedding. Hence, Yuri can meet the dowager queen.

Ramses makes his next play by scooping Yuri into his arms and telling her the wedding might be a ruse but his desire to wed her isn’t. This seems to make her soften just a bit toward him.

Kail and the Hitties are fighting with renewed vim and vigor. They put the Egyptians on the retreat and push for their homeland. Kail has determined that no one in his inner circle is the spy. He believes if that were the case, Yuri’s identity as his concubine would have been discovered long ago so he tells them about the spy. But he also gives them a warning in case he is wrong. Should Yuri die because the information was passed on, he will find and kill whoever did it. But this is a trap. Kail believes that there is spy among his friends and the threat will spur him to act.

And the spy turns out to be Zora, a character so insignificant I didn’t mention him before. One of Kail’s generals catches him with a tablet with top secret information and drags him off to the king. But Zora claims he is no traitor. He’s been giving status reports to Queen Nakia as he was ordered to before they left the capital. He didn’t see how it could be wrong as Nakia ranks second only to Kail in the empire’s power structure. His testimony establishes collusion between the two queens. Now to find out what they are plotting and why.