Requiem of the Rose King Volume 4 by Aya Kanno
This series continues to impress me, as with each volume Kanno capably delivers a larger cast of characters and more intricate plots centered around the succession to the English throne. While many of the earlier volumes served to establish the motivations of many of the characters, this volume moved into more political plotting, especially as the Earl of Warwick decides to play kingmaker.
I found myself struck by all the ways that Kanno’s art signals character in elegant ways. Richard has a vision of his father as an avenging angel with dark wings, and the swooping black feathers bordering the panels serve to show how isolated Richard is in his inner world. Warwick is often drawn with areas of his face shown in stark shadow, which suits his manipulative personality.
This volume focuses on the fall of Edward, his manipulative wife, and the possible rise of middle brother George. Richard is still an object of desire to Edward, who willingly travels to meet Anne to explore a possible engagement once he knows that Richard is also visiting. For a brief time Richard is able to deepen his friendship with Anne, and he finds some solace in a new friend who lets him be completely himself. This being a tragedy, Richard’s brief period of peace is quickly destroyed, and he has to head back into battle again where he thinks he’s going to find a different kind of escape.
As Warwick’s plots fall into place, Buckingham is determined to provide a different king for the nation and goes off in search of Richard. There are too many kings and would-be kings wandering around England! But it is clear that while they all may be trying to gain the throne, so much of the real power is in the hands of the nobles trying to manipulate all the political uncertainty.
Requiem of the Rose King continues to be a favorite series. The art is absolutely top notch, and the combination of Richard’s surreal visions and complicated inner life against the backdrop of the political struggles for the English crown makes it incredibly compelling.