The Faraway Paladin: The Archer of Beast Woods

By Kanata Yanagino and Kususaga Rin. Released in Japan as “Saihate no Paladin” by Overlap. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by James Rushton.

I’d mentioned in my review of this first volume of this series that it had more of a high fantasy feel to it than a light novel feel, and that continues in the second volume, which sees William making his way back to civilization and discovering what said civilization actually is. (Also as I said in the first volume review, the fact that he’s a reincarnated Japanese guy is completely irrelevant to the story. I suspect it was added in order to draw in fans of that genre.) He immediately runs into the character we see on the cover page (and in the title), a half-elf who is both bemused and amazed at Will’s combination of superpowers and stunning naivete. In fact, mentioning superpowers, I am reminded of what Will feels like in this second book. He feels like Superman.

There are, obviously, a lot more characters in this book than the last one, as Will and Menel are going around saving villages, battling monsters, and meeting up with Antonio from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, who I was rather surprised to find in the middle of a light novel. (It gets even worse later in the book when Bishop Beesley from Michael Moorcock’s Cornelius series arrives, though thankfully this is a less evil version.) It helpfully shows off how bad Will can be at not only actual human interaction, but understanding consequences in this new world – he needs to be bailed out several times by his companions. Fortunately he’s aware of this, as he keeps worrying about social ostracism, but that doesn’t make him any less bad at it. His pureheartedness may also remind the reader of Dudley Do-Right at times.

The writing on this book continues to be excellent, with the better scenes towards the back half of the book. William has a bit of a breakdown near the end as he realizes the distance between himself and his colleagues, and the way that we get to see this happen from his narrative point of view and scream “no, stop, you’re being an idiot!” is really well done. Luckily, he is stopped for being an idiot, and other characters get to show off that just because he’s super pure and strong does not always mean he saves the day – cunning and experience still has its place. There’s also a bit more humor this time around as well, mostly due to a) Will’s po-faced reaction to things, b) Menel being a massive tsundere; and c) the presence of Bee, a hobbit (in all but name) who regales everyone with song and stories. This also leads to the most touching moment in the book, where she narrates an epic song that turns out to be about Blood, Mary, and Gus – Will is so happy they weren’t forgotten he starts to cry.

In the end, this remains a very good fantasy novel, with a distinct lack of harems, little sisters, or other light novel cliches, and the main character’s overpowered nature is balanced out enough in the text that I don’t think it matters. To me, this remains the J-Novel Club release to read for those who don’t like J-Novel Club releases. That said, we’re almost caught up with Japan, so I’m not sure when the next release will be.

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