Ace, the Knight of Heart Castle, is known throughout Wonderland not only for his master swordsmanship, but for his tendency towards cruelty. Can the charming Alice Liddell mellow Ace and his violent ways? Perhaps Ace will even fall in love with Alice...if he doesn't kill her first.
In order to well understand this manga one must first read "Heart no Kuni no Alice: Wonderful Wonder World". I personally didn't like this spin-off; it was too cheesy (lovey-dovey) for my taste but, if you're one who likes romance and would like to see an Alice/Ace pairing you might enjoy it.
My story with the Alice in the Country of Hearts series is long, I've been following Hoshino's manga from 2010 when it was initially released and I'm a big fan of the games as well, for as much as I was able to play and it's a great series with great characters and a great concept...However, I have always had an issue with Ace in the manga adaptations; I kinda dislike him. In the games, he comes out as bearable, his personality is justified and delivered quite well, despite him creeping me out for most of his route before that, but he is an interesting
and complex character and that's something to praise; but not as much in the mangas, and definitely not in this one, which is a shame being, maybe, one of the rare Ace-focused stories.
First...To note, for you, new readers, that this manga should only be attempted after you've finished the original Hoshino's Alice in Heartland (Heart no kuni no Alice) manga. Heart no Kishi happens in the Country of Clover which is a direct sequel to the Country of Hearts (not as much story-wise, just world-wise). This won't spend time to catch up with everything that happened in the Country of Hearts so don't expect to understand it without the first manga !
Back to the review...
I dived into this with the full intention of giving Ace another chance and as much as I like Mamenosuke Fujimaru 's other Quinrose mangas, this really manages to fall flat. Might be because of time, might be because it's just one volume, I don't know, but I feel like instead of trying to dwelve more into Ace's psychology, it just confirmed everything that I dislike about him. I understand very well the concept of his character, I also do feel bad for him if I just put to a side my biased feelings, he is a character that WORKS, but he is too complex for just 3 chapters (since the 4th is a Crimson Empire extract). If you happen to like him, this might offer you some nice eyecandy; Fujimaru's art is just incredibly beautiful, but if you want to understand Ace, then stay as far away as possible, it'll just confuse you more and maybe make you want to slap both Alice and Ace like I did.
I can add a recommendation here at the end...but besides the Heart no kuni no Alice manga, you could also give a try to Cheshire Cat to Waltz manga. It's Boris/Cheshire Cat-focused, but Fujimaru does manage to throw in a better interpretation of Ace, though quite villainous, but still better than Heart no Kishi.