Everyone knows about the story of Shahrazad and her wonderful tales of the Arabian nights. For one thousand and one nights, she entertained the mad Sultan with the adventures of Aladdin, Ali Baba, Sinbad, genies, and many other mystical creatures. But what if Shahrazad was actually a boy desperate to save his sister's life? What kind of strange things would he do to make sure that he survives to tell the tale? This new twist on one of the greatest classical folk tales just might keep you awake for another One Thousand and One Nights.
I'm not one to usually write recommendations, so please forgive my lack of fluidity, but I felt that I just had to after finishing this series. One Thousand and One Nights (or, A Night of a Thousand Dreams, as some sites call it) is a beautiful rendition of the original tale, and while I've never actually read the original One Thousand and One Nights, I believe that this manhwa has more than done it justice.
Story (9): The overall story is done pretty well- sure, there are the few cliches of the 'driven mad by -love' kind of crisis with Sultan Shahryar, and the whole
'falling for the person who helps you' romance that he and Sehara eventually embark on, but personally, I didn't find it all that off-putting. The fact that the story of Sehara and Shahryar does stem from the original One Thousand and One Nights doesn't allow the writer the flexibility of deciding how they fall in love, but the writer does an amazing job in the development of the plot leading to the romance. The fact that it's two men isn't something that's an in-your-face, forbidden romance type of thing. It's just like anything else in the series, it's different from what the normal perception is, but that in itself isn't what makes it stand out. Unlike other BL or yaoi, the fact that it's two men isn't what defines the story.
I need to point out that the romance, just like the original tale, is not the crucial element of this series. It's a subtle, gentle force (and a real slow build, you should know) that reminds you of the purity with which Sehara tells his stories, and the gradual care that Sehara develops for the sultan. He tells his stories initially in order to to ensure his own survival, but his purpose changes to telling the stories to make Shahryar a better man, to impart philosophies and morals to allow him to make better decisions that will save his people. The stories themselves add the the intricacy of the plot- they let you see more sides to something than what is originally presumed. Even the author's notes at the end of each volume (I highly encourage you to read them) tell you so much about what goes on in addition to the original stories that he bases them off. I do no justice in describing the marvellous wonder of these stories, so I implore you to read them in the series yourself. They move me to a great extent, which not a lot of manga/manhwa do, that I am actually able to empathise with the characters, and understand their motivations, even if they are portrayed as the villain.
Art (7): To be honest, the art was what made me hesitate on reading this series. It's not excellent, but it's certainly not bad. Like most manga/manhwa, it has panels where the effects and the drawings took my breath away, and others where it made me cringe slightly (though I'll say that this didn't occur that often, and the former effect thankfully occurred more). The overall fairy-tale effect was quite ethereal, and aided by the grace with which the characters are drawn with, I would say this series provided a rather beautiful atmosphere. One thing I have to say that definitely stood out, though, were the CLOTHES. Some of the garments, royal or not, were stunning. Some of Shahryar's vests (I'm not actually sure what they're called, sorry) deserved their own harem, just for how sexy they were.
Character (10): Initially you might not like the characters all that much because they're fairly typical. The caring martyr who sacrifices himself for the sake of his stubborn sister, the aloof sultan who does what he wants and threatens others if they don't obey him, the bodyguard of the sultan who never speaks a word and hulks around intimidating people, the misunderstood voice of reason of the sultan who was imprisoned due to the latter's spoilt nature, etc.. Despite all of this, what makes the characterisation of this series so amazing is you see them all gradually grow outside those little cookie-cutter personalities. As you learn more about the events in the story, their characters gain depth. Sehara becomes more elaborate, Shahryar stops wallowing in his self-pity long enough to apologise and help other people, Jafar (the imprisoned one) grows in his capabilities to be far more than just an underling, and Maseru (the bodyguard) is a wonderful, touching embodiment of loyalty and a very gentle soul (he and his lamb make me cry).
I loved how Sehara wasn't a teary-eyed, blushing and fawning uke who relies on the seme loving them like most in the genre are, and I definitely loved how Shahryar was the one who needed Sehara's guidance, but only in order to fix his pre-existing problems, and not as a constant desire for possession. The power balance between the two is very equal, you don't get the sense that one of them having more power in the relationship, and that's something I really love seeing in a manga/manhwa relationship, be it BL or not. Even when they are heavily dependant on each other, it isn't made in a way that they have to be with each other in order to be complete. Each of them are already their own person, but they compliment each other in such a way that together, they create greatness.
You should definitely give this series a try. At least stick with it for a volume or to, and it'll show you the wonderful messages that any human can be improved with. I for one, feel that I have taken away many life lessons from Sehara's tales. I'm extremely sorry for the fact that this manhwa isn't more popular, because it is an amazing, overlooked gift that needs to be shared with more people. If you, like me, really love it, it's available on Amazon- so we can not only support the creators, but this amazing work can be readily available to us on your bookshelves.
Ooh this is a difficult one to rate! First off, the art is lovely, full of absolutely stunningly beautiful men (especially as the volumes go on) - sadly the historical real-life characters on which some of the stories are based probably didn't look quite so stunning....
There are some gripping stories in the mix here too although this is a bit more uneven IMHO. You're not always that invested in the characters of the stories - kind of inevitable when they're of short duration - and I found myself a little impatient at times to get back to the main story.
Sehara is a very sweet character,
but I found it really hard to get invested in the relationship between Sehara and the Sultan, Shahryar. This is after all someone who is chopping off a girl's head every night....and the reasoning/explanation eventually given for why he's gone off his trolley and started this mass killing spree does not seem nearly sufficient enough to redeem him/make him more sympathetic at all!
At one stage I was going to give up, but then would come along a story I really got into. I especially enjoyed an absurdly complicated story set in ancient China that's based on an historical text and would presumably be a lot more accessible to an audience more familiar with the main historical figures (Clamp's Gate 7 suffers from the same problem) - I spent some time backtracking to try and work out exactly who everyone was and how they fitted into the rather complicated timeline and feel like I have an enhanced knowledge of Chinese history as a result (albeit a rather madly constructed shoujo-manga alternative universe version, but hey).
So overall it kind of annoyed me in parts, kind of lost me in parts, but then gave me a huge amount of enjoyment in parts - one of *those* kinds of manga/manhwa!
I've always loved reading a classic with a twist. It's no wonder that I've fallen for One Thousand and One Nights. This manhwa takes the tale of Arabian Nights and creates a story filled with treachery and betrayal, hope and courage, and love and its power to heal.
The story follows a young sultan named Shahryar who proposes a terrifying ultimatum for all the young women called to his harem: if the girl is a virgin, she is to die by the hand of the sultan; if she is not, she is to die by the hand of a close male relative.
To Sehara's horror,
his younger sister has been called to the sultan's harem. In order to save her, Sehara disguises himself and takes his sister's place. Of course, it is not long before Sehara is disovered and senteced to death.
However, Sehara doesn't throw himself on the floor and plead for mercy, like you'd expect him to. Instead, he turns to Shahryar and says, "I'd like to tell you a story."
And thus begins the story of One Thousand and One Nights.
The art is beautiful. The art is gorgeous. No two characters look the same, and every little piece of scenery is thoughfully and tactfully placed. The backgrounds? Why, they make you feel as if you, yourself, are in the sultan's palace.
A paragraph ago, I said that no two characters look the same. The same is true of their personalities. Shahryar, the sultan, is impulsive, moody and unstable. Sehara is like water: fluid and cool, calm and forgiving. We also come across variety of characters in Sehara's stories: a cold and ruthless princess, a witty prince, an Egyptian queen, a Roman conqueror, a Greek philospher, and many more.
Enjoyment & Overall:
At first, I planned to read a chapter or two and then get something to eat. An hour later, when my stomach growled, I realized that I was about to start the third volume. One Thousand and One Nights--its art, its plot, its characters-- it really got me hooked. Each of Sehara's stories were tragic and captivating and each had its own moral.
Needless to say, I really enjoyed One Thousand and One Nights. If you love a fresh take on a classic, or even if you're just looking for something to read, give One Thousand and One Nights a shot. I'm sure you'll enjoy it too.
One Thousand and One Nights is unlike any other manga (or manhwa) you'll ever read. Not only is it set in the ancient Near East (a highly unusual location for a manga), but it also has stories within stories. A friend unfamiliar with the Sheherazade storytelling plot format asked me why they couldn't just skip the stories and get on with the main plot. I told them, "well then it wouldn't be 1001 Nights!" The stories ARE the plot, and I can't stress this enough. Both plot progression and character development take place through the stories. And what beautiful stories they are, ranging from folk
tales from around the world, to revisionist history, to one that the author made up himself. I know it sounds corny, but to me, it's like stepping into a beautiful dream!
The relationship between Shahryar and Sehara flowers in a very gradual, natural progression. It's very satisfying to watch it grow from homicidal distrust to real devotion. They are stark contrasts to each other - with Shahryar being passionate and impulsive, while Sehara is serene and wise - and so complement the other perfectly. It might be a bit formulaic, but it's a formula that works, and is done well. On top of that, the art in this series is absolutely gorgeous - some of the most beautiful I've seen! - so there's plenty of eye candy to stare at.
This is a very addicting series that flies by really fast. I so wish there was more of it, but I guess I'll just have to get my 1001 Nights fix by re-reading it over and over, lol. The re-reading value is pretty high, too. While the plot is straightforward enough, the symbolism in the stories gives it many layers, and it's fun drawing more and more connections between the characters/themes in the stories and the characters/situations in the overall plot. It celebrates the power of storytelling to transform ourselves and the world.