Sword Art Online, Vol. 7: Mother’s Rosary

By Reki Kawahara and abec. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen Press.

As I was reading this volume, I kept thinking that there was a pacing issue, and that events were happening far faster than I was expecting. As I came to the end, the reason why occurred to me: other than the first book, this is the only stand-alone Sword Art Online novel. In the main series, Books 2 and 8 are short story collections, 3-4 and 5-6 are two-volume arcs, and 9 onward is an epic 9+ volume arc. But this book completes its story in one compact volume, and it’s even pretty short compared to some other books in the series. Once the brain has adjusted to that, the reader can see what’s really going on: this is one of the best books in the series, where Kawahara finally balances storycraft and emotional manipulation perfectly, to the benefit of Asuna, who’s the co-star and narrative focus of this book.


Fear not, Kirito isn’t the other star of the book; for once he only has a small supporting role. (Though he does appear on the cover, apparently at the request of the editor.) No, the other star is Yuuki, the spunky girl with the sword you see next to Asuna on the cover. The first half of the book introduces her to us and has as its main mystery why she is so good with a sword – to the point where she can defeat Kirito, twice. She defeats Asuna as well, but Asuna gets closer than anyone else, so Yuuki introduces her to the rest of her Guild and asks for her help in taking down the boss of one Level – in a party of seven. Boss fights normally have at least 50. Clearly there’s another reason why they’re so desperate, and as Asuna discovers it despite Yuuki’s best efforts, we get the last third of the book, which will put a lump in your throat.

The second half of the plot is Asuna’s stormy relationship with her mother, who has demanded that she transfer out of the SAO survivor school and also set up a marriage for her (with her second cousin, because Japan). The repressed frustration and anger that Asuna feels whenever she talks to her mother will be achingly familiar to many readers, and it’s through Yuuki and her own struggles that Asuna finds the strength to fight back and stand up for her own life and experiences. (As an aside, I note that Yuuki seemed quite happy when she talked about getting married to Asuna in order to get around one of her problems.) SAO may have been a traumatic death game in many ways, but it did allow Asuna to really grow and reach out to others, and her refusing to be put back in her mother’s little box is a triumphant moment.

I’m trying to avoid spoiling more than I usually do in a review, but the book isn’t perfect. I am not a medical person, but even I could see that a lot of the details of the medical treatment and cause for it was a bit sketchy here. Also, I grow rather weary of the plot continuing to talk about how noble and good Kayaba was long after his death, given that he trapped 10,000 people in a game where they were allowed to die as his thought experiment. That said, Asuna and Yuuki are pitch-perfect in here, and for once the emotional and gut-wrenching final feels fully earned (Bonus points for not featuring sexual assault as a plot point, at last). Even if you gave up on SAO during Fairy Dance, I’d recommend getting this volume, as it’s one of the best in the series.

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  1. Shannon Luchies says

    Yeah, despite it’s flaws this was a good book.

    Was spoiled by the anime so I KNEW what was coming, but still a powerful moment. Sorta wish we’d have seen more of the Sleeping Knights and the usual SAO crew gaming together too. Would have been neat.

    Have you seen the magical girl versions of them?

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