Culinary Chronicles of the Court Flower, Vol. 10

By Miri Mikawa and Kasumi Nagi. Released in Japan as “Ikka Kōkyū Ryōrichō” by Kadokawa Beans Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hunter Prigg.

For a great deal of this series, we’ve been presented with a question: who will Rimi end up with? It seemed fairly obvious for the first half, as it was very much a romance between her and Shusei, bonding over food and dodging inner court intrigue. But then Shohi also fell in love with Rimi, and things got shaken up… to the point that Shusei is now starting a war in order to gain the throne so he can get what he wants. Ironically, if he’s only waited a little bit longer he might have gotten it anyway, as while it’s clear Shohi does love Rimi, and she loves him, their relationship is explicitly likened to a mother and son, and so when he’s told he needs to sire an heir NOW because of the upcoming war, he can’t see Rimi as a partner in that way. This WOULD be good news for Shusei… if it weren’t for the last three or four books, and honestly, I’m starting to wonder if the books might now just end with no romantic resolution at all.

Rushing back to the palace, Shohi and company find that a large number of the bureaucrats have switched sides, and are asking him to abdicate. This includes Shusei, who is generously giving him ten days to decide whether to abdicate or go to war. And Shusei, by far, has the larger force to make war. There are, unfortunately, other problems as well. They still haven’t found the spy in the court, Mars. Tama has been out of sorts ever since they returned, and her actions midway through the book cause a crisis. Oh yes, and Shohi starts to become ill and also go blind, which doctors say is some mysterious illness, but the reader can very obviously see is because he’s being poisoned. By Hakurei. Which… makes no sense whatsoever. Can Rimi figure out what’s really going on? And are they really going to war?

Mars’ identity has been a well-placed mystery this whole book, and when it’s revealed here it makes sense – I won’t spoil it, but it has an impact. I also enjoyed seeing the four consorts have a large role in this book, especially Ho, who is forced to deal with all the manipulation Hakurei has done against her and help with the main plotline. (Yo continues to be comedy relief, alas, but at least she’s funny most of the time.) As for Shusei and Rimi, it’s very clear from Shusei’s actions that he’s got several tricks up his sleeve, and I don’t think all of those involve his own victory. Unfortunately, given he’s a traitor, and also given Rimi right now thinks that “Lord Ho” has killed the Shusei she knew and is 100% against him, I’m not sure quite how this ends. Exile with Rimi at his side would feel far too pat.

I should not have too long to find out, though, as the next book is the last in the series. A good addition to one of the classic “intrigue in the emperor’s court” genre.

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