The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt (Hey, How About Treason?), Vol. 4

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.

The title continues to be increasingly archaic, as there’s not even any scenes of Wein bemoaning how he can’t pawn his nation off on someone else and relax here. Indeed, he’s so busy he can’t even spare the time to go to the Empire’s Summit Conference, where the three brothers vying for the title of Emperor (and Lowellmina, who is also vying for the title but not officially) are getting together to try to hash things out. In reality, it’s mostly posturing, so Wein decides to send his little sister Falanya, who needs to gain some independence and become her own person. This succeeds beyond everyone’s wildest dreams; however, as is always the case with this series, events spiral out of control fast and Wein’s presence is required to stop what might be a very nasty conflict. And stop his sister getting married off. Oh yes, and defend himself from the charge of poisoning the eldest prince. Any sane man would collapse from the strain.

The highlight of the book was the journey that Falanya makes over the course of it. We’ve seen her briefly in the first three books, getting taught politics and history and being very bored with it, and also having a massive brother complex. This does not go away here (though thankfully it’s familial in nature – Wein/Ninym is Falanya’s OTP), but this book does see her forced to grow up fast, as well as fend off unseen assassins (OK, her bodyguard does this), unwanted proposals, evil princesses out to steal her brother (well, “evil” is perhaps incorrect here) and, most importantly, become fascinated with debate and parliamentary procedure to the point that, when the city the conference is in is in danger of being conquered, she can rally the populace with stirring speeches and save the day. She is fantastic all round here. And getting more like her brother every day.

As for Wein, I give him credit for actually staying home for a while, as I was thinking we’d get some comedy here of him secretly tailing Falanya because he’s worried. That doesn’t happen, but he does end up running himself ragged, having to race to the conference after all and then getting roped into the political nightmare that it happens to be. He’s in good form here, trying to gauge what everyone wants while not giving anything away himself. The Genius Prince books also have a very nice habit of one big surprising scene 3/4 of the way through each book, and the surprise this time is that it does NOT end with a corpse, but things are still very bad for Wein. I also like how his collapse near the end is not really part of a secret double-bluff or anything – it’s just exhaustion finally catching up with him. And it does allow us to see Ninym being something other than stoic and cool.

Overall, this is perhaps the best volume to date in a series that’s already excellent. Very highly recommended.

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