Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? On The Side: Sword Oratoria, Vol. 8

By Fujino Omori and Kiyotaka Haimura. Released in Japan as “Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darou ka? Gaiden – Sword Oratoria” by Softbank Creative. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Liv Sommerlot.

This volume of Sword Oratoria has a lot of the author’s strengths and weaknesses, minus Lefiya’s crush on Aiz, which gets a pass here. Instead, we get a mostly very serious book devoted to the backstory and current troubles of Bete, everyone’s least favorite grumpy asshole in Loki Familia. Picking up right where we left off in Book 7, i.e. with a lot of dead family members, we see Bete’s usual coping tactics at work – insulting and belittling his dead family members for being weak. Needless to say, this gets everyone so angry with him that he’s ordered to take a few days off away from the Family till things cool down. Right away, though, he runs into an Amazon who had a small appearance in the sixth book, and who Bete pounded in the abdomen back then. This has, in a typical Amazon way, led her to want to have his children. I’d say hijinx ensue, but this isn’t that kind of book. Instead, we get Valletta coming back and trying to cause Loki Familia even more pain.

Let’s get my major beef with this book out of the way: Bete’s backstory catches up with his current story at the end of Vol. 7, as it turns out that the one dead family member we actually knew anything about (Finn’s support mage) had a crush on Bete. If we combine this with a) his little sister (dead); b) his childhood friend (dead); and c) his first love (dead), we wind up with Stuffed Into The Fridge about five times over, as this is all to support Bete’s own emotional pain and his journey and explain why he’s so terrible. We’re also told that if you combine the looks of the three girls in Bete’s backstory you come close to Aiz, something that creeps me out more than a bit. Aiz, of course, can take care of herself, which is why Bete’s seemingly so fond of her. Oh yes, and the amazon girl, Lena, is also cut down in front of him halfway through the book. It’s hard not to groan at this point.

Other than that, I’ve said before that Omori specializes in writing fight scenes, and it’s still true, as they’re excellent as always, and keep the book moving briskly. Unfortunately, the author is less good when having to lay out exposition – learning why Bete is the way he is is laid out in several long interlocking scenes where Loki, Finn, Gareth and Riveria all tediously explain what we’ve long guessed to the rest of the family so they’re not mad at him any more. (That said, it does lead to the one great joke in an otherwise humorless book, as Loki convinces Aiz to cheer Bete up, which Aiz does as only a monotone deadpan character can.) This was probably a necessary book, as we needed Bete to get some backstory. I just don’t care for how it was handled. (And thank GOD for that editor, or else it would have been even worse.)

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