How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 12

By Dojyomaru and Fuyuyuki. Released in Japan by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

Sadly, my begging to the author did not help, as Machiavelli is cited again in this volume. It was originally written in the webnovel version interspersed with Vol. 11, but they decided to split it up for book publication. Which is fine, but it does mean this book is very short. And what’s worse, it still needs side stories to make up the length… and has to start Book 13, to the point where the chapter numbering actually resets. Basically, in terms of bang for your buck, this is pretty slight. Fortunately, it does a little better when it comes to actual plot, introducing us at last to the Zem mercenaries and finding that they are not QUITE as villainous as the book has painted them to date. More importantly, though, we meet the late Duke Carmine’s daughter Mio, who is determined to get to the bottom of why her father did what he did. Souma had been planning to try to clear Georg’s name anyway, so this works out, but there are some other things to consider.

War is tough, after all, and though Georg did his best to try to keep casualties to a minimum, there are still soldiers who were killed in a battle that turns out to have been part of a massive con game, and their families won’t be happy with that. More importantly, of course, is the presence of Kagetora, the tiger-masked bodyguard who is absolutely not secretly Georg Carmine, no way, uh uh. Mio’s seriousness and general anger is something that Souma tries to curtail by the shortest route, and he does so by having Kagetora and Mio face each other in battle, something that manages to clue her in – and only her – as to what’s going on. (Less successful is Mio after this cathartic moment, when she becomes more comedic and starts throwing herself at Finance Minister Colbert… the author really does want to pair up absolutely EVERYONE, huh?)

The other big event in this book, aside from the cliffhanger that leads into Book 13 (which I’ll just discuss when that comes out) is the first in-person meeting of King Souma and Empress Maria. He needs the Empire’s help with their upcoming war, and knows that such a conversation can’t happen over video conference call. I liked that this showed off Maria being exceedingly clever, seeing what Souma is actually planning immediately, and also showcasing Jeanne’s frustration at being unable to catch up to her genius sister. That said, Maria’s (unheard by the reader) request of Souma is worrying, as it certainly sounds along the lines of “when I die, do this”. And here I was thinking they were going to work out a way to add her to Souma’s wives… oh yes, and the mad scientist group discusses the need to add drills to everything, which I still maintain is just a big Maria-sama Ga Miteru joke.

So, despite its slightness, this book succeeds at what it wants to do, although (like many, many light novel authors) the attempts at humor are not all that funny here. In any case, next time we get mermaids and dragons, and see another clever plan of Souma’s upended by a heroine inserting herself into the narrative.

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