Yona and her friends have taken to calling themselves bandits and have been protecting Fire Tribe villages from cruel government officials. Meanwhile, Kang Tae-jun, the Fire Tribe chief’s second son, goes to Katan Village with orders to eliminate the bandits there. He still believes that he’s killed Yona–but suddenly, he hears her voice! What will happen when they come face-to-face again?
This is another character-centric volume – this time it is Kang Tae-jun, the second son of the Fire Tribe chief, who had thought all this time that Yona had died when she had jumped off the cliff. He has been despondent about it, and part of it had been that he was in love with her. When sent by his brother to investigate the new bandits (aka Yona’s group) harassing government officials, he is barely able to muster any enthusiasm for the job, until he hears her voice and realizes she may not be dead after all. At first a privileged brat, he slowly learns what nobles like him have been doing to the villagers all this time, and starts to help the group out with food supplies.
Tae-jun has a really good character arc in this volume, on many fronts. He stops being a selfish lordling and starts caring for his soldiers and about Yona’s ideals. He takes advice from Yoon as how to improve conditions and enforces it, as is within his power, going so far as to risk infection when a soldier of his gets sick. Part of his change is due to Yona, of course, but a lot of it is because he starts to see others. And he is even ready to betray his tribe to support Yona, and she, in all her royal might, requests him to continue their efforts in Fire tribe lands as they are moving on. It has been a solid reversal from when they were on opposing sides.
This volume is also full of comedy, from Tae-jun’s weak spirits, his subordinates first frustrated and then encouraged by him, as well as his apathetic second-in-command. There’s also an old woman who has much of an impact on him, and her affection for the ‘very handsome’ Hak. He is bumbling and shy when it comes to Yona, and even Hak can’t fault him for that. By the way, the scenes between Hak and Tae-jun are hilarious!
In summary, a character-driven arc you will love!
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Viz Media LLC, via Edelweiss.