Week 1: 薬屋のひとりごと

True. I rejected that possibility because, in my mind, “twisted” doesn’t have the right nuance (due to me auto-translating to my native language), but checking the dictionary, I see it can also mean stuff like “perverted, corrupt, deviant, …” which does fit.

Chapter 1

No, it’s just a basic となると “when it comes to” (characters, that is, literacy in this case). While they’ve been taught the most basic etiquette, when it comes to teaching them how to read, that’s a bit hard considering the time/situation constraints.

It’s not direction, more like way, but I can’t find the proper word in English right now. Like, it’s on the good side of the probability distribution (thus rare).

先帝 is the previous emperor. 花の園 is the nickname of the 後宮.

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Haha thank you. It’s one of my favorite light novel series, so I feel invested. :slight_smile:

Chapter 1

Yeah, I got that. Just couldn’t think of how to word it either. Thanks for confirming.

Ah, well that helps. Would have been nice if that was explained in text. :sweat_smile:

I finally finished the first chapter… really not a good pace if I want to keep up with the book club and have a decent level of comprehension. Hopefully it gets better within the first two weeks, but I may have trouble keeping up and keeping up my comprehension level in the long run. Mainly because if I’m doing intensive reading I can’t read when I’m at the gym or walking, which is a large portion of the time I spend reading. Even reading in the morning before work may be difficult. That would leave me with only a small amount of time after work each day and on the weekends, and I’m not sure that’ll be enough time.

@Naphthalene I know this is the advanced book club and this book was deemed to be halfway between the typical “easy” and hard" difficulties for determining pace. But did you look into what a schedule averaging 15-20 pages per week instead of 25-30 pages might look like?


To be fair, it’s a typical metaphor. That expression was used as is in the other two series based in the 後宮 that I have read (紅霞後宮物語 and 後宮妃の管理人), so I guess it’s just standard, probably based on historical reality.

I haven’t checked in details, but that would be about 15~20 weeks. That being said, things felt easier after the first couple of chapters, so I think it might be okay? Let’s see after next week.


That was definitely one of the more difficult things I’ve ever read! There were a ton more vocab lookups than I’m used to but once some of the setting-specific vocab started to become more routine (e.g. 官女, 後宮, etc.) it felt a little smoother even by the end of chapter 2. I only just realized that this is the first book I’ve read that doesn’t basically take place in a modern-Japan-like setting, so I’m excited to expand my vocab to help tackle other genres that I’m interested in.

I definitely appreciate the ramp-up schedule. Can’t wait to keep reading!


Oh that makes a lot of sense I was baited by the 猫猫は籠を持った女官に話しかける。.

Even though it has been difficult to read I have had a lot of fun to go through it all! I’m actually itching to read on right now!

To check it out I bought the manga and read up until the point I had read in the book. Is it mostly the same content @Naphthalene?

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There are two manga adaptations!
This one:

and this one:

For some reasons, the first one is in the shonen category, while the second one is in the shojo category.
I read a few volumes of the second one, and it was indeed pretty close. I didn’t notice any major difference.
I don’t know the first one, but it is free to read on Booklive for a few days, so I will probably check it out.


Oh wow thanks for pointing it out, I did not know that it had 2 adaptations. I read the second one yesterday and the first one right now. Both of them look really good can’t decide which one I like better

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I just finished the first volume of the first adaptation. I feel like it’s moving at a much faster pace. Also, there have been some modifications to fit the manga format (like adding 猫猫’s abduction scene at the beginning rather than just an explanation)
In the first one, it’s 小蘭 (instead of a random servant) who gives the basket to 猫猫 so that she can get to the center (and it’s merged with her explanation about the hot eunuch being over there). In the other version, 猫猫 just goes empty handed.

I didn’t really notice those differences when I read the manga, since I had mostly forgotten. It’s interesting to check all three versions at the same time.


しまった. Finished the part of chapter 2 that is freely available so I have to buy it tomorrow ^^.
The amount of vocabulary was still pretty insane but I feel like the grammar was way easier in this part at least. (I mean I’m not to surprised I haven’t yet learned words like お世継ぎ or 東宮 or みまかる ^^)
EDIT: One advantage of the rare vocabulary is that most of it has furigana and is therefore easy to look up :smiley:

Three small piece for the small part I read.

  1. The second girl in the picture seems to be listening even more intently to the rumors than MaoMao. Lets see who that is.
  2. 怪談めいたもの couldn’t break it down and make sense… I know 怪談 though
3. Just general summary of what I read

So the former crown prince produced 1 heir, then ascended to the thrown and produced 2 more heirs. All 3 of them died as infants really young. So now he has 2 more heirs (making it a total of 5) with 玉葉 and 梨花 (one each) wich are currently 3 months and half a year old. They need a doctor at the moment and there is speculation that it is poisening since 5 dead children is suspicious even with high infant mortality at the time. MauMau doesn’t think so since they are girls and they don’t have a claim to the throne so there is no reason to kill them. Plus the food for the 下女 sucks…

Uff ended up basically transcribing nearly all I read in the end -.-.


I assumed that was the woman who was gossipping sharing her knowledge.

めいたcomes from めく, to show the appearance of, to be like. In past tense like here it means that it’s a もの showing signs of/ seeming like 怪談. As another example of this usage, 謎めいた for example means puzzling and has its own dictionary entry even.


Serious question: Since you’re talking about just buying it tomorrow I’m assuming you’re reading digitally. So why does the furigana matter at all for lookups? If you are using an ebook reader like Kindle or reading in a browser it should be easy to look up words no matter what, no? Are you using something without easy dictionary lookups?

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Good question. I couldn’t find an option to mark words on the bookwalker web viewer. It seems to render pictures? (Maybe it was also a limit of 試し読み? So for now I’m working with the Booklive pc client to read digitally. Normally you can mark and copy/lookup words in there but for some reason in this book I can’t mark text (yet?). Maybe because it is just the 試し読み? In Honzuki marking and copying text is possible.

It is not that big of a deal for me since I can normally guess readings pretty solidly since finishing wanikani. Or alternatively know other words with the same Kanji so I don’t often have to resort to radical lookup to look something up.
It’s also a pretty usefull skill to have when not reading on a PC. Which I hate doing for manga and normally also prefer for books.
Often I’m at a lake in sommer and only have my smartphone with my to look the most essential parts up.

Since this one is on the harder side though and I’m not sure how long I’ll stick to it I first wanted to dip my toes into it before pulling the trigger, hence I’ve done digital this time.


Yes. It’s super annoying, but you can’t select text in the free preview (and thus no dictionary look up)


I’m reading this book so slowly that my kindle is convinced I’ve walked away and that I’m not actually taking as long as I am. :sweat_smile: Pretty sure I took 30+ minutes to read what my kindle claimed would take 6 minutes. Grammar wasn’t quite as bad in this chapter, though still so many words to look up that it took me forever.

Chapter 2 questions



The passive なる in both of these is just that stupid passive for politeness thing, right? Somehow I’m still not used to it no matter how often I see it when reading.


What’s the reading for 赤塗? Jisho says 塗 could be the suffix みどろ, basically meaning the same as まみれ. But I’m thinking it could also just be ぬり. あかぬり seems like it would make more sense to me, but I wanted to check.


What’s going on with the 宦官の医者については猫猫は知らない part? The previous parts are talking about the two 妃 in their order of importance or maybe more accurately the order the doctor visited them due to the importance of their babies as mentioned earlier in this chapter. But I don’t really get that last part.

Chapter 2

Yes. Usually, I’m fine with it, since there’s no other possible meaning, so it kinda goes through without me noticing (especially when talking about people or things of high rank).

I assume it’s あかぬり based on context.

It’s from her point of view. She is checking who is there. She recognized the first two, but doesn’t know the last one.

Grammar-wise, I think it remains basically at that level, so it should be fine. Vocabulary-wise, though, every now and then a new thing happen that brings its own set of words… That part doesn’t really get better until a few volumes in…

Chapter 2

This one hurt my brain so I’d also like someone else to chime in.

My gut says also says あかぬり for what it’s worth.

This makes more sense with the context of the previous sentence.


In this case I’m pretty sure 順に is referring to the order in which the scene was just laid out, where 猫猫 first assigns names to the 罵る女、うつむく女、etc., then offers up what else she knows about each of them. In the case of the 宦官の医者、she knows nothing.

Chapter 2

Oh wow, I completely misread this section. For some reason I thought she was talking in generalities about people like that, not the specific people in front of her. Makes a lot more sense now!

The Japanese people invented polite passive just to annoy us foreigners. It literally adds nothing to the meaning other than politeness. I just wanted to check since I was already writing up other questions anyway.

I’m honestly not a huge fan of settings like this. I’m unlikely to read subsequent volumes unless the difficulty seriously ramps down or this becomes like my favorite series of all time. If I remember correctly, you said that the first volume stands alone well, which would make me even less likely to keep reading even if I enjoy it.


I mean, it’s related to the fact that the world is based (partially) on the Tang dynasty time period (and partially on the end of Edo period; yes those are literally a millennium apart, let’s not think too much about it). Except if you are already familiar with those settings, every time she bumps into anything, you’ll have a bunch of new words popping up. The good thing is that you’ll know those words for the next 後宮-based series you read :crazy_face:


Finished this weeks part. Nothing seems too unclear this time around. Liking 小闌 for some reason. I get an uwasa slinging character that is short with words but at the right place at the right time kind of feeling from her. If you need infos, go to her ^^.

洗わねば is just an older/formal form for 洗わなければ right? First time I saw that but interesting to know.

But honestly the second half of chapter 2 was brutal again… It took me literally 2 hours for just 3/4 of a chapter -.-… Every sentence has around 2-3 unknown words, at least.
Sometimes its just stuff like writing 馬鹿 with 莫迦 and me double checking if I missed something…