I totally picked this up because there is a K-drama of this manhwa running right now!! It is set in modern times while this is set in historical times when they believed sacrificing a person could bring the weather change they need to survive. I wanted to see how the the tv show compared to the original story… but today let’s just talk the manhwa (Korean “manga”)!
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Bride of the Water God
Drama, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Supernatural
When Soah’s desperate village sacrifices her to the Water God Habaek to end a long drought, they believe she will bring much-needed rain. Not only is she rescued by the Water God, she’s a welcomed guest in his magical kingdom, Sugak! As she draws closer to Habaek and his cousin, Mui she is thrust into the political machinations of the gods…
Bride of the Water God Series
by Mi-Kyung Yun
Published (vol.1) October 30th 2007, (vol.2) February 19th 2008, (vol.3) June 9th 2009, (vol.4) September 29th 2009
by Dark Horse Books
I was really surprised by how consistent this series was… I’ve been reading manga for a while and I do have my favorite series where each volume is better than the last but there are many, many more where I love one volume but the next is a little disappointing and the one after is much better, etc. This series improved slightly in some areas in later volumes but mainly stayed quite good but with room to grow and improve.
If you enjoy politics and machinations with some romance to up the stakes then you’ll enjoy this manhwa… Unlike Japanese manga this is read American style so it’s a great middle ground from which to start reading manga!
⋆⭐⭐⭐⭐ improving in Volume 3-4 to ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Volume 1: THE ART!! WOW!! It is truly breathtaking! It’s better with color but the black and white are still gorgeous… It hearkens back to an older art style when manga first became popular and were still incredibly detailed. This is a manhwa and they like this style a lot. The problem with the style and why manga became more streamlined is because it’s not always clear what is happening in a frame. When you feel befuddled about what is going on you start to come out of the story and get more and more frustrated. I had a hard time keeping track of who was who. Their names aren’t used a lot so it makes you feel lost. The look of the characters is compelling and I know the men are different just not who they are! Soah’s face is rather expressive and really helped keep me grounded in the art.
Volume 2: The art is gorgeous! Sometimes confusing… I did understand some of the frames that were unclear but is that me reading better or the drawing being better…?
Volume 3: There were some seriously stunning frames in this volume! From the bath and battle scenes to ones where our tiny tyke gets mad and ones where his mother dominates… truly stunning. And I wasn’t as confused this time! In fact, its safe to say I understood every frame. There was even a time jump and I understood that it happened!!
Volume 4: I’m not sure how she does it but the art seems to be getting better when I think it has already reached the best it can get! The illustrations about the lovers were so gorgeous I could have those for my wall, really! The intercuts of the buildings and setting were stellar!! Added so much more to the art in this volume. Because it exceeded my expectations it still gets a 5 star but there were two spreads where I just could NOT decipher what was meant. It makes me feel real stupid and I HATE that!
In Total… This manhwa is all about the art! It is gorgeous and expressive and sometimes befuddling but always reminding us where we are and who we are dealing with (gods and a gorgeous human female)!
⋆⭐⭐⭐⭐ improving in Volume 3-4 to ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Volume 1: The plot is COMPELLING! I love this kind of old-fashioned story and adding in gods and goddesses and all that power play between them is quite compelling. We meet a BIG player here in the first volume as well as the gods that surround Habaek. I liked the twists surrounding Habaek and that seems to be the central plot point besides meeting the other characters and getting some details about the world. Nothing is really explained!! It makes it feel like a rather formless plot. As there seems to be little reason as we flit from scene to scene and there are few transitions as we abruptly pass between interactions. Combined with the uncertain art it can be quite confusing! In a first volume you aren’t going to learn much, its all about being intrigued and that I AM!
Volume 2: The plot is compelling… in this volume Soah learns about Habaek’s past and being in love with Nakbin is introduced and through contact with Mui due to a potion from his mother she learns he also has a past with Nakbin. She was told to doubt Tae-eul-jin-in’s word so sets out to learn for herself if what she suspects is true and actually he helps her while the person who told her it’s a lie is trying to hinder her. Through all this drama it seems Habaek is truly falling for So-ah.
Volume 3: There is TONS more plot compared to the first two volumes. I mean TONS more… I’m not sure it’s my favorite type of plot but we get to witness Habaek’s feelings more… He truly acts like a god and plays his cards very close to his chest!! You have to read into his actions but in the most subtle of ways… it’s more a hope that he feels more than a sure knowledge. It’s terribly compelling and you certainly want to read more and see how these events play out! I did love that we changed up the dynamic between Habaek and Soah! It would get boring if it stayed at the stalemate it was and I think other eyes are watching to see how invested he is in this wife…
Volume 4: I was glad that we didn’t linger any longer over her back history and that story line. It was a great way to start the series and explain what Soah came from but now lets stick with Sugak! Tae-eul-jin-in has his own arc this time which I LOVED!! I have a soft spot for Loki type characters!! Huye also has this odd loyal and betrayer role in Habaek’s life… I want to learn more about what Huye thinks and feels. He advises Soah about Habaek and I’m not sure she should follow his advice, in fact, I’m SURE she shouldn’t… Would you be so trusting of the others in a realm of a god? I’m not sure I would… maybe if they truly seem happy to see me and spend time with me then yes… but everyone else I’d treat with a grain of salt. There is also our no name villain… she has some big revelations she’s holding onto!
In Total… this manhwa has some major politics working… its only behind the scenes right now but I think its going to blow this story open. I feel like these four volumes were hooking me, all setup for when things really hit the fan and I was suitably compelled!
⋆⭐⭐⭐⭐ improving in Volume 3-4 to ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Volume 1: It’s hard to tell where these even are! It doesn’t say a chapter number like in manga so you just flow from page to page, there is no break. I searched out a couple and they are compelling endings but they are about adding to your questions at this point not revealing anything. I’m sucked into the story but it’s a rather formless feeling like exploring something new and not having near enough answers.
Volume 2: The chapter endings were still rather indistinct but at least they seemed to have better transition so I could see where they were at!!
Volume 3: Because there was more plot and it was ALL actionable there were definitely stronger chapter endings! I applaud them and found myself reading feverishly through the volume to see what happens next.
Volume 4: Because the plot was stronger the chapter endings WERE SO GOOD!! I wish the endings were a little more clear cut, but I also appreciate that the Koreans want these to read like books rather than like comics.
In Total… this manhwa keeps me reading at a feverish pace… I don’t feel like the chapter endings give me a place to rest and maybe walk away from the series… In fact I NEED to keep reading… definitely a good sign of things to come!
Soah – The bride of the Water God. I really like her. She is rather passive compared to modern girls but hey that is how it was back then. Women had little power and anyone who’d allow themselves to be sacrificed to the Water God is not big on rebelling. This may irritate some readers. I’m more compelled by the fact that she wants to get along and live in the water kingdom!
Habaek – The Water God. Talk about a random little sneak! I feel like he has A LOT of history and we don’t know but the minutest of things. TONS of it is hinted at in this volume and I’d say most of the plot will be coming from his back history. I wish I understood at least one of his motivations so that I had something to root for or hold onto about him. At this point he seems random even though I know he’s not.
Volume 1: Together they have chemistry and I am rooting for them to fall in love even though there hasn’t really been enough to say that I think they are starting to yet… I feel like Soah just met the real Habaek! So I’m still out on whether to ship this couple or not!
Volume 2: I love Soah and Habaek and I love them together too… She isn’t quite as passive as she first appeared. She is a woman of her time though and tries to be sneaky rather than demanding. She’s smart and realizes something is wrong and is able to take action herself! I would rather have scenes with them falling in love rather than those scenes seeming to happen off screen. This is ultimately a shoujo and I want to see the falling in love! Right now Habaek seems to be changing toward Soah with very few scenes together to back it up… but the ship scenes were gorgeous! It’s a ride I’d want to take too…
Volume 3: Soah is cast as the human set adrift at the whim of the gods. She makes decisions based upon what she knows but it’s really not enough to make good ones. She is rather conflicted and I really felt for her. She has this lovely helpless strength that I find compelling and I’m not a man, lol!!
Volume 4: We really get a sense of how much this stony faced alpha male of a god was hurt by this Nakbin in this volume. He is VERY leery about being hurt again… we learn that the bet was an excuse that he gladly latched onto but which still wasn’t enough for him to go after what he wanted. It must really be hard being the water god and in contention with the emperor. Soah is portrayed as rather dim. I know she’s had proof shown her that they are different Habaek /Mui but still, come on!! And she also didn’t reveal some knowledge she had, so she’s no weak flower, yet I also see that she is soooo shy in his presence that she can hardly get out the words she wants to say… and he doesn’t make it easier for her!
In Total… our main characters, Soah and Habaek have places to grow… I want to see more of the falling in love in the frames and not off screen. BUT they are heading in the right direction. Soah is no shrinking violet but she does have principles and is rather needy. I see the potential for many misunderstandings and I hope that is NOT where we are going with this… Habaek is as broken a soul as I’ve read, perhaps because he lives so long he feels keenly when his emotions are engaged… I want to see more of this vulnerable side!
Hu-ye – The commander of the Water Kingdom.
Mura – The Witch of Chung Yo Mountains in love with Habaek.
Ju-dong – The God of Fire.
Yo-hee – A goddess who is fond of Soah.
Tae-eul-jin-in – A doctor and inventor in the Water Kingdom.
Suh-wang-mo, Yanghee – The Queen Mother of the West and the Goddess of Death, she is Habaek’s mother.
Yook-oh – A grandfatherly butler who serves the Water God.
Banwing – A masked messenger who serves the Emperor.
Volume 1: This is a MASSIVE number of characters to meet in the first volume! I went back and took a picture of everyone in the volume to become familiar with them and I realized each was quite compelling and added real depth to the first bit of story but it was A LOT to grasp… You don’t really know the purpose of everyone yet but you are starting to get a sense of their natures. My favorite at this point is Tae-eul-jin-in because he loves to push Habaek’s buttons… There is an obvious bromance between Habaek and Hu-ye but also some history too… I’m probably most intrigued by these two besides our lead couple!
Volume 2: The side characters are starting to show their true colors… which I thought was good! And Soah is not quick to trust any of them but seems set to learn for herself…
Volume 3: The side characters from the water kingdom play only a small role except for his mother who makes a bet with him whose outcome if he loses will make him give up his memories of heartache. At the same time another nameless character comes and plays a dirty game with him through which we learn some of his back history with his previous wife. That which causes his mother such concern that she feels she must mettle. How he chooses to solve both of these situations is not what I would want if I were his wife but Soah is not consulted. We meet a man from Soah’s past through this solution and Dong Young makes waves in a way that I appreciated!
Volume 4: Nakbin is this crazy HUGE side character whom is like the ghost of Christmas future… scary and without a face, its like looking in a mirror and seeing yourself. Other gods and goddesses obviously know the power she has in Habaek’s life and wish to bank on that fact… Will he allow that? We shall have to wait and see… I did enjoy seeing Huye and Tae-eul-jin-in play a big part in this volume…
In Total… the side characters have major potential but as of yet that potential is abrupt and rather inconsistent. Right now they are milling around waiting for the opportunity to cause Habaek trouble. The pots are a-stirring but lets get out of the setup!!
Volume 1: Overall, I was quite compelled by this volume and I am looking forward to the next couple that I have picked up… I an already starting to see the connections to the K-drama having read this volume (and learning the names of each character!!) I do want a better delineated plot and better reveals at the end of chapters.
Volume 2: Overall, I’m pleased with where this is headed even though very little progress was made on her learning the truth about Habaek. I’m anxious to see if volume three stays the same quality or not…
Volume 3: Majorly improved plot added a lot! Not quite a 5 star outcome… we are still at 4.5 stars overall but also a striking improvement! I’m looking forward to volume 4!!
Volume 4: Some good advancement that makes me look forward to my next 4-volume-arc (volumes 5-8)!! Habaek and Soah’s relationship is VERY SLOW!! And I wish I understood Habaek’s relationship with the people of Sugak… still so much that can be explored!! This series definitely has place to grow and get better, but it is also compelling and well developed!!
In Total… A political plot that I can enjoy with an intriguing if slow burn romance… The gods and goddesses make this fascinating, especially because we aren’t saving the world or even in the earthly realm!
As a writer I am super intrigued how she made reading a politically motivated plot compelling! This is NOT my favorite genre as a reader… the romance certainly played a large part in sheltering my feel good mind from taking in all the political implications. And I wonder how much the super fancy art played in lulling my senses as well! The backstories also play a part… even though we know very little about those histories you can feel them seethe in the background and anticipate learning more… Part of the job of a writer is assembling the details so that they are more palatable… this is certainly done well in the first 4 volumes…