Requiem of the Rose King continues to be a fascinating look into the life of Richard III. Although liberties are taken with history (e.g, making Richard III intersex), there is still a wealth of actual events/characterization from which Kanno draws. Volume 4 covers the political machinations of Warwick, The Kingmaker, and the havoc he wrecks upon the nobility and royalty of England.
Story: Richard sojourns with Neville, the Earth of Warwick – an attempt by his brother to keep him removed from court life and its temptations. Richard enjoys the quiet as he becomes closer to Neville’s younger daughter – the love struck Anne. At the same time, Warwick maneuvers to set up Anne’s sister Isabelle with George (Richard’s brother). Warwick intends to wed both his daughters to the two heirs of the throne – thereby cementing his power. The problem is, there is still a King on the throne with an heir on the way. As Richard and George become embroiled with Warwick’s plots, King Edward IV naively believes his brothers and Warwick would never betray him.
The story takes place on two levels, really: the hardship and harshness of a very tormented Richard alongside the political machinations of the era. Warwick was named Kingmaker because he deposed two different Kings and nearly took complete control of the country himself. At the time period of the novel, Warwick was carefully lining up his cards with both the three brothers (King Edward, George, then Richard) very much moving to his whims. This is all cleverly portrayed in the manga in a way that keeps all the facts palatable and fascinating.
The time period right after the end of the Wars of the Roses is so rife for this type of novelization. The bit of supernatural elements (e.g., Joan d’Arc tormenting Richard about his female ‘side’) add drama and interest to the story. Of course, this is not completely accurate and historical characters definitely look a LOT better in a shoujo manga than they did in real life. But this is a great way to bring the that important history of England to life and make it understandable. And enjoy a good dramatic story as well.
Now, bring on Henry Tudor! Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.