At the beginning of this novel, we get the resolution of the big reveal from the previous volume, where Ed, Alphonse, and Mustang all become privy to just how far the reach of the homunculi is within Amestris. The rest of the novel is a major flashback to the Ishvalan Civil War. We know from previous volumes how the war started, but until this point, we have only been privy to snippets as characters try not to remember the slaughter they took part of. Hawkeye, never one to shield Edward or treat him like a kid, is finally the one to educate him on the horror of what they were asked to do as part of the military. We also learn a vital piece of Colonel Mustang's past, and it further explains the dynamic between Hawkeye and Mustang.
Since Ed and Alphonse, and by extension, the reader, know so much now about the corruption of the country and the truth behind the Philosopher Stones, this is a perfect time to launch into this complicated story of the Ishvalan Civil War. This event has been a driving force behind so much of the plot in the previous nine volumes that we are so familiar and yet so clueless as to what happened, just as Edward admits to being with Hawkeye.
There is more violence and blood in this volume as we are talking about a war, but the blood is always understated in the drawing, looking more like dirt spots than gore.
While the subject matter in this one is pretty heavy, there are many parallels to draw between the Ishvalan Civil War and the extermination campaign of Nazi Germany. The operation the Amestrian military undertakes is even called the "Extermination" effort or mission. Any student who has studied World War II should be able to make these comparisons and have a deeper appreciation for the gravity of this event in the story.
Sara's Rating: 10/10
Suitability Level: Grades 7-12
Reviews of previous volumes in this series: vol 1, vol 2, vol 3, vol 4, vol 5, vol 6, vol 7, vol 8, vol 9
Tags: Rating: 10/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Manga, Action Adventure
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