In this volume, we get the conclusion of the storyline in Rush Valley, and the boys finally make it to Dublith to their teacher’s home. This sparks a flashback that lasts the rest of the novel. The young Elric boys lose their mother and devote their lives to alchemy to bring her back. They find a teacher in Izumi Curtis, a housewife passing by who helps save the town from flooding. Curtis deposits the boys on an island for an entire month and tasks them to solve the riddle “one is all, all is one.” After their training, the boys return home and decide to conduct the human transmutation they’ve been waiting for. Meanwhile, Lt. Colonel Mustang travels to Resembool to recruit a 31 year old alchemist, only to find too late that he's after 11-year-old Ed. Mustang finds the evidence of their transmutation, but still offers to sponsor Ed’s entrance exam to become a state alchemist. We get our first glimpse of President Fuhrer King Bradley as he decides to attend the practical exam for the youngest alchemist in the military’s history.
The tragic backstory of the Elric brothers is one of the pieces of this story that make it so rich. All of us can relate to some sort of loss we felt in our childhood, and most of us know what it's like to lose someone and not really understand why they're gone. This universal theme of loss spurs the Elrics on and makes them sympathetic characters for the reader. We don't care that the boys are breaking one of the greatest alchemical laws to bring their mother back, because we want them to reverse that pain and loss they felt. Arakawa's illustrations in this volume are perfect - the way she draws the Elrics as children is wonderful, and who doesn't love Al in his actual human body? Re-reading this amazing series in hardback has me extremely motivated to share it with everyone I know.
Sara's Rating: 10/10
Suitability Level: Grades 7-12
Reviews of previous volumes in this series: vol 1, vol 2, vol 3
Tags: Rating: 10/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Manga, Action Adventure
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