Lydia Carlton is a fairy doctor, one of the few people with the ability to see the magical creatures who share our world. During one of her rare trips to London to visit her father, Lydia’s quiet life is suddenly transformed when she is rescued from kidnappers by a mysterious young man! Edgar Ashenbert claims to be descended from the human ruler of the fairy kingdom, and he urgently needs Lydia’s help to find and claim his birthright, the legendary sword of the Blue Knight Earl. Things will never be the same for Lydia as she is pulled into a dangerous quest against dark forces!
I first heard of The Earl and the Fairy when the anime was announced in 2008, but didn’t give it much mind until Viz announced the license last year. The way the premise for the anime was presented didn’t sound too interesting to me, I decided to give the manga a try. I’m glad I did. It’s a story filled with plenty of action, but what really makes this volume shine is the characters.
The story follows Lydia Carlton. She’s a strong-willed young woman determined to make it as Fairy Doctor despite living in an age when few people, if any, believe in fairies or other magical creatures. She is also kind, and soft-hearted, as she holds no ill-will towards those who think she’s a little off. Lydia makes a good female lead. Her strong personality keeps her from being a wilting flower, though she does try to keep out of the more physical altercations. She doesn’t back down from Edgar’s challenge to find the Treasure Sword, despite being abducted twice in the volume. She’s got spirit, which makes her fun to read.
As much as I like Lydia, I like Edgar even more. He is so enigmatic. His expression is always neutral, so it’s hard to tell when he is being serious and when he is joking. It’s this mysterious nature that makes it just as hard to tell if he really is an Earl or born of the Blue Knight line. I really like that about him. He fits the legend just well enough to keep Lydia (and the reader) from knowing for sure if he’s lying. Raven and Ermine, his two faithful servants, contribute to the uncertainty by helping Edgar fit the legend further.
It’s just as hard to tell though whether or not to feel any sympathy for him. His experiences in the American South in the 1800s probably has more of an impact on US readers that Japanese, as it is a dark part of our history, so after hearing about his past, it’s easy to want to feel sympathetic towards him. But then there’s his darker side, that makes no bones about want to just use Lydia, and the lingering doubt that he just wants to use the Treasure sword to gain prestige even though he may not be the heir to it. Or maybe he just wants the sapphire. I love all the ambiguity!
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the one fairy in the cast, Nico. He is Lydia’s constant companion. He can make himself invisible, or if he wants to be seen, he appears as a gray, fluffy cat. But he has a lot of un-cat traits. He likes to wear string neckties and cuffs, and is more comfortable on two legs. He also really enjoys his liquor. He helps Lydia, and gives her advice, solicited or not. I also really liked Nico, and not just because he looks like a cat.
This first volume is filled with lots of action, as Edgar and Huxley fight over Lydia for her fairy knowledge. She is (technically) kidnapped twice, and is nearly taken for a third time, when Huxley catches up with them. While Edgar, Raven and even Ermine do most of the fighting, Lydia isn’t afraid to try to defend herself in whatever way she can. I liked th art as well. The men are all mostly bishonen, while Lydia has a more down-to-earth beauty.
The Earl and the Fairy is off to a great start. It’s a story with lots of action, and a quest as well as the hint of romance brewing. I like that it’s delving into more of the celtic myths and mythical creatures. It’s rarely done it either US or Japan, so I’m looking forward to seeing more about that as well as seeing more of these characters. The Earl and the Fairy is going into my keep pile, for now.