Book (Manhwa): Men of the Harem by HereLee, Alphatart, & Yeongbin

Logo of Men of the Harem webtoon, chapter 148
Men of the Harem chapter heading (chapter 148)

Men of the Harem
by HereLee, Alphatart, Yeongbin
published by Webtoon (150 chapters, 2 seasons, ongoing)
2021 – present

Latil believed her boyfriend would send for her after settling a crisis in his home empire, but instead she received an invitation to his wedding as emperor… to someone else.

After her father was murdered and she executed her dangerous brother, Latil became empress of her own empire, and decided to establish a harem of consorts – for spite and fun! Would her ex become jealous? Oh, yes. Would a variety of handsome and influential men apply, ranging from both wealthy royals to mercenaries and spies? Again, yes – and one of them is her emperor-ex’s overconfident brother.

Despite the fun implications of the title, Latil is a really hard worker, and birth control doesn’t exist in this world yet, so it isn’t the party it could be. Latil must stabilize her empire and determine who killed her father, so she is too busy to frolic with her attractive consorts and risk a pregnancy that will leave her unable to swing her sword – something she still needs to do often. Also, because of the influence of the men, favoring one over another creates political drama outside of the palace – and not just drama for her closest knight, who secretly pines for her.

Season 1 is filled with drama, political intrigue, flirting, secret maps, magical items, and possible imposters.

Season 2 reveals that dark magic seems may have returned to the world after an absence of 500 years, with outlying villages being emptied by monsters, and rumors that her ex’s new empress has gone mad, because she is claiming to see people back from the dead.

Did I both gasp AND make a pained sound at seeing a familiar character oozing blood and sinking into a pond – yes, yes I did!

Even during crises, the harem is a source of campy humor and entertainment – and outside it, some of her consorts are both useful and eager to help. My favorite is the secret leader of the assassins’ guild, who also likes to read (ooooh), fall of out his clothes (haha), send Latil naughty paintings (o_o) – AND ALSO go undercover with his empress, collect intelligence for her through his guild, and capture people! (Competence is sexy!) Then there’s the big pale one who implies he has always known her, without explaining the specifics of these prior life relationships. His strength and unflinching devotion are assets, even if he is a bit spooky… When he says her knight was born to protect her, is he being melodramatic, or is he hinting at a prophecy he is eager for her to ask about?

Latil is a woman who works too much and needs to have more fun (aside from participating in brawls while eating street food without her knights present), and I really want her to have a chance to relax! And also, not to need to manage a zombie outbreak, or worry that she’s going to become the bad guy. (Problems we all face at one time or another, amirite.)

Season Two delivered the always enjoyable, ‘don’t worry, this isn’t my blood’ trope that I eagerly await in all Korean graphical fiction.

I stayed up too late several evenings reading Season Two, and I’m eagerly awaiting Season Three.

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