The Seven Princes of the Thousand Year Labyrinth looks like an entertaining fantasy-mystery series. The basic premise is that seven different attractive young men wake or end up in the Castle-of-the Thousand-Year-Labyrinth. They are candidates to be the next emperor, since hereditary monarchy was outlawed centuries ago, and they can’t leave the castle until they decide among themselves who will be the next emperor; everyone else becomes the ruler’s new advisors.. Ewan is the main character and he looks like a naïve country boy, while the rest are public famous figures including a mater thief (Titus), a master detective (Messiah), a human rights activist (Gideon), a blind singer (Zan), a nobleman (Lawrence), and the heir to a business empire (August). Messiah once arrested Titus, and they don’t get along. Gideon and Zan appear to be friends, and Titus is a major fan of Zan’s. Lawrence and August apparently grew up together, even though August looks 12 and Lawrence looks 20. August also likes to cross-dress, much to Lawrence’s discomfort.
The characters seem interesting and everyone clearly has some kind of backstory. In this first volume, we get a little about why there’s tension between Titus and Messiah, and who Lawrence’s father is. There are hints the Ewan is more important than he realizes, particularly when Lawrence and Messiah both promise their loyalty to him on two separate occasions. August’s family owns the castle, but something’s gone wrong, as the building appears to be trying to kill everyone. Early on, they discover the 7th candidate’s body without its head, having apparently fallen victim to a booby trap. The building also appears to randomly start filling areas with water, or springing puzzle traps that have lethal consequences.
While all of the character interactions make for some entertainment, watching them solve the Indiana Jones style traps could be a little better explained. For example, why the locked rooms with the hourglasses seems safe to everyone is not totally clear (as it turns out they actually are, but then the question is why, given that everything else is dangerous).
Hopefully in later volumes we get to see a little more about August, Gideon, and Zan’s backgrounds. Gideon and Zan both seem too nice compared to everyone else. There are scattered hints that Messiah might be the bad guy, although it’s early enough that these strike me as a little red-herring-esque, especially since the body they found before was missing a head, and the clues to his identity a little too neat. Obviously, Ewan will end up being something special and the key to solving the eventual ‘final problem’. The cliff hanger volume conclusion has Lawrence and Titus maybe dead, Messiah looking maybe guilty, and everyone else separated. While it’s possible the series could possibly stretch the puzzles and shifting loyalties and the mystery behind Ewan’s identity for who knows how long, I hope we get all the info about the characters, but not have to spend an eternity with meaningless adventure episodes.