The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt (Hey, How About Treason?), Vol. 3

By Toru Taba and Falmaro. Released in Japan as “Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saisei Jutsu ~Sou da, Baikoku Shiyou~” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jessica Lange.

Calling your main character a “genius prince” can be a bit of a two-edged sword, as you need to have him continuing to be reasonable clever while not killing the audience’s disbelief. So far these books do a good job in holding to that balance. Sometime it leans straight up in Wein’s direction, such as when he describes having a book ghostwritten that will give bad advice to nobility and make it easier for him to eventually take them down. And sometimes it has Wein straight up flummoxed or panicking, which is just plain fun (as the illustrator of the book will tell you). And then there are the moment when you realize that Wein has a steel core that lives for one person alone, and threatening that person can cause things to get very dark very fast. All this comes together in this book, where Wein has to deal with possibly becoming one of a group of noble elites… all of whom seem to be extremely broken.

Wein and Ninym (who are on the cover again – these covers are very Strike the Blood in their choice of subjects) have just returned from touring the country in the middle of winter, but have to head right back out again when Win is invited to the country of Vavarin for a conference and also a religious festival. It smells like a trap. It is a trap, but that’s not going to stop Wein. That said, he also has to deal with the Remnant Army, the remains of Marden, which was torn apart in a previous book. After getting separated from his guard by bandits, he ends up taking in a representative from the army, Zeno, who is a) a girl dressed as a boy, and b) probably even more than that. (It’s not much of a surprise, trust me.) Zeno is filled with thoughts of revenge, but is also fascinated by Wein, who is doing his best to keep several balls in the air… and then trying to move as quickly as he can when all the balls drop.

There is one really terrific scene in this book, which I will try not to spoil much but involves a murder. These books can get a bit too intellectual for their own good at times, so it is good to remind us that Wein is a royal prince who can get away with a lot of things that other people cannot. It also reminds us that insulting Ninym is bad enough, but threatening to kill her means your life is forfeit. Speaking of Ninym, I wish she had more to do in these books – she gets some good scenes, but this is a series about Wein first and foremost. I wish there could be more balance in their relationship which is imbalanced by definition. I also enjoyed the rebellion by home by the traitorous general, which again did not surprise me in its twists and turns but was very satisfying narratively. As was the twist ending, showing how much Zeno really learned from Wein.

These are great books, especially if you like political intrigue. I’m anxious to read the next one.

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