Altina the Sword Princess, Vol. 3

By Yukiya Murasaki and himesuz. Released in Japan as “Haken no Kouki Altina” by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Roy Nukia.

Having given us a military story for the first two volume, Altina now dives headfirst into the politics of medieval succession, as she and Regis return to her Empire’s home for a formal get together. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that. She was set up to fail as the commander of her remote base, and succeeded; she was set up to fail by taking an untakeable fortress, and succeeded; now she’s back home so that her brothers can make use of her once and for all in their own power struggles. Of course, each has their own problem. The first prince was poisoned recently, and since recovering has looked rather weak… among other things. The second prince is in the strongest position, and has his own version of Regis, but still feels the need to reach out to Altina. And there’s a third group of nobles also jockeying for position, and their leader seems to really, really like Regis. Fortunately, this is the one area where he’s an idiot.

It has to be said, Altina is a much better military commander than she is a princess, and she likely realizes this; she’s too straightforward and honest to manipulate. Which at times is a problem, such as when Latrielle, the second prince, offers to have her join him and her hot-headed response is exactly what the situation doesn’t need. Fortunately, she is smart enough to realize Regis needs to be there, and he comes up with a very elegant solution to a difficult problem though admittedly it also involves immediately fleeing as quickly as possible to avoid being killed. He is helped out by Auguste, the first prince, who has a rather poorly kept secret that nevertheless has persisted. Speaking of secrets, Eric continues to be a good, if excitable bodyguard to the princess, but gosh, it’s so odd how he doesn’t want to change in front of Regis and keeps blushing all the time about it. And asks him about daughters who are trying to keep their family traditions no matter what. Wonder what that could be?

These are short books, and the writing is snappy, so the prose flies by. Unlike some other series by this author, there’s also minimal fanservice, so it’s safe to recommend to other folks. I will admit that we do lean very hard on Regis being so self-loathing and modest that he is unable to see why any woman would possibly be interested in him, despite Altina, Clarisse, Elenore, and Eric (oh what a giveaway) all making overtures of some kind or another. This doesn’t just apply to his non-romance either; he regards his tactics as fake because they come from books he’s read, and therefore has a low opinion of his own brilliance. It’s frustrating, but makes sense for his character, and I hope he slowly grows out of it. (Also, we get some details on the books he enjoys reading, and wow, this world has some bizarro fantasy novels.)

There’s setup for a war that looks like it will happen next volume. In the meantime, if you like political intrigue, fiery redheads, and something you can polish off in an hour or two, this is your book.

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