Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
The Seven Deadly Sins: Seven Scars They Left Behind
Two years ago, Princess Margaret and knight-in-training Gilthunder bore witness to the fact that the Seven Deadly Sins were framed for the murder of Gilthunder's father, Zaratras. Now closely monitored by the witch Vivian, Gil and Margaret try to survive in an increasingly corrupt world. The only things that help them to manage are the gifts and memories left behind by those who have been banished in this prequel to Nakaba Suzuki's manga series.
If you're a casual fan of Nakaba Suzuki's manga The Seven Deadly Sins or its anime adaptation, you should be aware that this novel is intended to be read either after the first thirteen graphic novels or the full season of the anime. This isn't just because of spoilers, although those will certainly be major, but rather because it simply won't make a whole lot of sense unless you're aware of the situation in Liones. Assuming you're all caught up with either version, however, Shuka Matsuda's prequel provides some backstory for Margaret, Gilthunder, Howzer, and Vivian that helps to flesh out their characters and make it clear why Elizabeth felt that she needed to seek out the Sins in the first place.
The story is set ten years before the manga, two years after the Sins fled the castle town. Told as a series of interlocking short stories, the main character is Elizabeth's eldest sister Margaret, who is fifteen years old. Margaret accidentally stumbled upon the truth of Holy Knight Zaratras' murder, and as such is now kept under close watch by Vivian, former apprentice to the Sin Merlin. Because Margaret is a princess, and the heir to the throne, Vivian and her co-conspirators can't simply kill her, and Vivian is unwilling to kill the other witness, Zaratras' son and Margaret's friend and love interest, Gilthunder. Therefore she has assigned an invisible – but deadly – chimera to keep watch over the princess and uses her own “surveillance” of Gil to keep the two apart and silent.
At only fourteen and fifteen respectively, Gil and Margaret aren't in any position to take on the villains. Their feelings of helplessness and frustration are made clear throughout the book, with Margaret seeking to distance herself from everyone in an effort to keep them safe even as she desperately misses Gil and her sisters. Gilthunder is stuck in an emotional morass wherein his grief at his father's death, his longing for Margaret, and his frustration at not being strong enough to actually do anything with what he knows swirl together inside of him. Both he and Margaret are able to contain themselves, but they exude an air of loneliness that comes across clearly. They're children who have been thrust into an untenable situation that they have no real idea how to handle.
Interestingly enough, the character who feels the most developed from who/what she was in the original series is Vivian. As readers of Arthurian lore will recall, mythologically Vivian is the Lady of the Lake (one of many names given to the character, who is also at times split into several different Ladies), and part of her story is that she was Merlin's apprentice who eventually entombed him after learning all of his secrets. That fits with this particular incarnation of the character, whose jealousy becomes a driving force in all of her actions, from betraying her master to her refusal to allow Gilthunder to be killed to protect her secrets. She is Merlin's betrayer, but also sets herself up to be betrayed through her enduring attraction to Gil, making her a more emotionally vulnerable incarnation of the character. Where she comes across as seriously unstable in the original manga, here she is more of an immature character, not yet warped by what she has perpetuated; in fact, she's only just beginning her experiments, which makes the brief appearance of Guila feel more ominous than it otherwise might.
The book is written as a series of interconnecting stories, and referred to as “short stories,” but it really is more of a straight novel in terms of how it reads. Each chapter begins with a memory of time spent with the Seven Deadly Sins, with seven chapters in all, plus a brief prologue and epilogue. The eponymous scars are less wounds and more simply marks that the characters left when they vanished – memories, puzzles, songs, etc. The first and last are the most poignant, although arguably Diane's has the biggest world-building impact. She and Meliodas come across the most clearly as the characters we know from the original work, although King gets the most references in terms of his part (and past) within the main text. Everyone feels familiar, with no glaring character rewrites or mistakes, and on the whole, this serves as a very nice addition to the franchise's canon. It's definitely written at a low young adult level, but that doesn't stop Matsuda from creating a story that fits smoothly into Suzuki's original world and that makes you look forward to the day when Elizabeth will set out on her quest to save not just the kingdom, but Margaret and Gilthunder as well.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B
+ Fits easily into the main story's world and sets up the main series' plot nicely, good character work for Margaret, Gilthunder, and Vivian
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