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I've had a stinking cold all day and stayed in bed, which did at least mean I finished a couple of books and started a couple more. And now apparently Livejournal is suffering the worst DDoS attack in its history, so I'm posting this by email and hoping it will appear once the gremlins have been purged from the intertubes.

Having enjoyed Volume 1 and Volume 2 of this series, I had fairly high hopes for this third instalment of the alternate history of a Japan where almost all men were wiped out by a mysterious plague in the 1630s. It didn't quite scratch my itches; the focus is much more on the court sexual politics of the Ōoku itself, and the relationship between Arikoto and the Lady Chiye (posing as the shōgun Iemitsu Tokugawa), in particular the political need for her to bear children by other men given Arikoto's apparent sterility. We do get some exploration of the social catastrophe wrought by the man-killing plague in Japan, and of why Chiye/Iemitsu's response, backed by her government, is to legitimise female succession rather than polygamy; I'd have liked more of that and less of the romance, but I guess I can't have everything. In any case, it is once again beautifully drawn and characterised, and with a welcome reduction in the brutal violence of the precious volume.

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