Der Werwolf: the Annals of Veight, Vol. 2

By Hyougetsu and Nishi(E)da. Released in Japan by Earth Star Entertainment. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Ningen.

I’m always pleased when a second book in the series proves to be even better than the first, and that’s definitely the case with Der Werwolf. I enjoyed the first book quite a bit, but the second volume steps up its game, showing off Veight’s political and diplomatic skills in the first half, then pulling the rug out from under the reader with a plot twist I wasn’t expecting for a few more books yet. Perhaps best of all, there’s virtually none of the typical isekai cliches in this book – probably as the “I’m from Japan” part is still mostly irrelevant. There’s no gamer terminology, dungeon levels, and the romance is kept very much on the back burner – i.e. there isn’t any yet, though there’s clearly a few women who like Veight. Instead, we are simply reading a fantasy book. It reminds me a lot of The Faraway Paladin, and fans of one should enjoy the other.

At the start of this book, Veight is interested in expanding his allies on the Southern half of the continent, so reaches out to a pseudo-Arabian city along the coast. As with the first book, we occasionally get the viewpoints of other characters (though I wish they were marked off in the text a bit better – it can be tough to tell when we’ve left Veight’s viewpoint and when we return), and that helps here to show off the rock and the hard place that the other city is caught between, and also how Veight thinking that he’s being calm and reasonable is seen by other people as Veight being threatening and terrifying. In fact, there’s a running gag here, even more than the first book, of Veight saying he’s “just a vice-commander” and denying that he’s anything special, despite constant evidence to the contrary. It would be annoying if he were doing it deliberately, but he means it, so it’s just funny.

The second part of the book is much darker. We’d been introduced to the concept of a Hero arriving and challenging the Demon Lord at the start, but this proved to be a false lead (though it did get us another cute girl character, the stressed-out mage who can do illusion magic). Then a real hero does show up, and things go badly very quickly. It’s great to see how the concept of a hero here, in a book essentially narrated by “bad guys”, is that of a fiercely destructive force that none can stand against except the Demon Lord himself. Even more intriguing, there’s clear backstory between the hero and the Demon Lord, apparently involving a woman… but we never really get to find out what it is, except it’s made the hero hell bent on revenge. Actually, I’ll be honest here, I was expecting things to get even MORE dark, but thankfully things got a little better at the end, and Veight gets to go on being the most humble yet awesome vice-commander ever.

This is a pretty long-running series in Japan, so we have a ways to go. This pleases me, as reading these volumes is a treat. I highly recommend Der Werwolf to anyone who enjoys good light novel fantasy without the “light novel” cliches.

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