Defeating the Demon Lord’s a Cinch (If You’ve Got a Ringer), Vol. 2

By Tsukikage and bob. Released in Japan as “Darenidemo Dekiru Kage kara Tasukeru Maou Toubatsu” by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Caleb DeMarais.

The good news here is that everything is just a bit more toned down than the first volume. Sure, Ares spends much of the book frustrated and gritting his teeth, insulting the hero and companions at every turn, but he never runs into them, so it’s more tolerable. Toudou and company likewise are a lot more likeable than the first book (knowing Toudou’s secret helps), and I like their resolve even in the case of crippling fear and dealing with insane priests. And no, I don’t mean Ares, though he’s clearly not all there either – in fact, given Amelia also seems to exhibit some eccentricities this volume, I’m wondering if being in the Church means that sanity is an optional extra. But no, instead the second volume is spiced up by the arrival of Gregorio, a smiling nightmare of a crusader who seems ready to restart the inquisition. For once Ares seems to genuinely have something to be frustrated about.

We start where we left off, with our heroes trying to level up in an area known for tombs and undead. Sadly, two of the three in the hero’s party are terrified of the undead – including the hero. Area and Amelia try to help them out by finding an apprentice priest to join their ranks. Sadly, there isn’t one available, so Amelia grabs the cutest orphan she can find at the church and Ares forcibly has her killing (restrained) undead till she’s at least Level 10. That said, mostly what Spica does in this book is sit back and marvel at what is going on around her. Particularly once Gregorio arrives. He’s very devout, to a manic extent, very sure of his faith, and very ready to kill anyone who is not faithful enough. Which, given “faith” to him means “strength”, is not good news for Toudou, who’s still dealing with being rather low-level. Can Ares manage to intervene before Gregorio decides to purge them all?

The high point of the book is Spica, who is a fascinating study in what happens when you take an orphan girl with little to no power and then put her in situations where power is needed and she constantly feels useless and pathetic. You expect her to break, and arguably she does a bit, but once again Demon Lord Ringer has a last-minute reveal that’s so good I don’t want to spoil it. It absolutely makes sense for the character, though. As for everyone else, the hero’s team is a lot more likeable this time around, and we get a lot more from their perspective. This allows the narrative to not hammer on Ares’ asshole qualities quite as much, to an extent that I can almost start to feel sympathy for him. Almost. Also, Amelia, I think you’re going to have to throw him onto a bed and straddle him in order for him to get a clue about your feelings.

It’s a good second volume, and I’m liking this series a little more now. It keeps surprising me. If you can tolerate Ares, as well as endless discussion of levels and buffs, it’s a good read.

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