Jul 2, 2014
thewhitesea (All reviews)
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.