I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
Poseidon of the East, Vast Blue Seas of the West is Eugene Woodbury's fan translation of the book Tokyopop translated as The Vast Spread of the Seas. It takes place 500 or so years before Youko's books, although I'd still highly recommend at least reading Youko's first book before this one. Otherwise, you'd end up missing out on a lot of context.
Anyway, this book focuses primarily on an event 30 or so years into Shouryuu's rule as emperor of En. The kingdom is becoming more stable, although it still has a long way to go before it's as beautiful and prosperous as it is in Youko's time. Unfortunately, not everybody is happy with Shouryuu and his laid-back style of governance. Atsuyu, the son of a province lord, tries to seize power by having Rokuta kidnapped. Interspersed with all of that is the story of how Rokuta came to choose Shouryuu as the emperor of En.
This is the third one of Woodbury's Twelve Kingdoms translations I've read, and the last one that has a corresponding Tokyopop translation. Or, for that matter, corresponding anime episodes. On the one hand, I'm excited, because that means the next one of his translations I'll be reading will be completely new to me. On the other hand, I would still prefer good licensed translations.
Shadow of the Moon, a Sea of Shadows was Woodbury's cleanest translation – there were a few errors, but overall it wasn't bad, and I loved his inclusion of translator's notes. A Thousand Leagues of Wind, the Sky at Dawn was disappointing, by comparison. It had a greater number of errors, no translator's notes, and some of his translation choices bugged me. Sadly, this book was worse. Although I don't recall any translation choices that particularly bothered me (aside from the title), the text was much sloppier, with frequent typos and misused words and even one or two unfinished sentences. Starting about two thirds of the way through, there were also what I assume were page numbers left over from the text's original browser-readable form.
Yes, this was a free download, yes, it's a fan translation, and yes, I'm happy that fan translations exist and that Woodbury kindly made his available in MOBI and EPUB formats. What gets me is that I've occasionally seen Woodbury's translations recommended over Tokyopop's. I'm sorry, but for all the Tokyopop translations' faults (and they are many), they're at least better edited than this (for the most part – again, avoid hardcover editions of Skies of Dawn like the plague).
As far as the story itself went, if you'd like a full review, take a look at mine from 2014. My feelings about the story haven't changed much. The first half of the book was still overly dry, with lots of place names, troop counts, and governance details that made my eyes glaze over. I still felt that Shouryuu held his cards way too close to his chest, and I didn't really blame Rokuta for doubting him. The ending, when Rokuta and Shouryuu were reunited and Shouryuu was revealed to be a far more caring emperor than Rokuta realized, was still awesome. The only bit I considered doing a text comparison on (but in the end was too lazy to do) was the beginning, which seemed slightly more confusing in Woodbury's translation than I remembered it being in Tokyopop's.
All in all, this is still my least favorite Twelve Kingdoms book, but it was worth a reread. The next time I reread it, I'll be going back to my Tokyopop copy.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)