Crossing over into another world and time after a freak accident, Korean highschool girl Sabina is taken in by a duke of the Crentia kingdom— only to soon be offered up to the ugly old emperor as a concubine. When the king is killed by a mysterious assassin, Sabina must face the poisonous circle of other candidates in a battle for the royal seat. Can she attract the loyalty and affection of the men and women she needs on her side to survive?
This is a story of Sabina first being forced to be a concubine against her will and then being forced to be a queen against her will. She tries her best to retain a sense of identity and self-respect in the face of her lack of freedom, being willing to stand up to people who would do her harm. The very reason the king made her the queen was because of this independent streak--he felt like he could trust her. As she stays in the palace longer, she starts to adopt the goals of the king as her own goals and she starts to see her relationship as being more than thrust upon her. I'm sure the author intended it to be heartwarming, but I couldn't help but see it as tragic. She's in constant fear for her life and, subconsciously, she knows that if she fell in love with anybody else, then that person would be killed by the king who wants her all to himself. She expresses a desire to not be physical with him and his compliance to not rape her is supposed to be seen as generous, though it's more about him wanting to conquer her and have her beg him for sex than out of any sense of love or respect. And he still forces her to kiss him all the time and pulls her body around like a rag doll, reminding her that he could have his way with her if he wanted to. And these are all expressions of his love. Which of course, like all relationships with abusive elements, brings to mind Haddaway's lyrics: "What is love? Baby, don't hurt me." Of course that's trying to apply normal standards to the story and I shouldn't be doing that. No, it's a fantasy, and at times people just want to fantasize about being conquered by a devoted suitor or about conquering somebody with your manliness. And in that sense it was generally enjoyable, if a bit over the top and never relatable. For the last dozen chapters or so, the story just meandered with no sense of direction. If that's any indication of the continuation's quality (which there is a continuation), then I have the lowest of expectations for it.
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