Altina the Sword Princess, Vol. 7

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.

We’re still fighting the battle against Britannia here, though after the one volume dedicated to the other side it’s been very much a battle seen from Altina and Regis’ side. Things don’t go swimmingly for our heroes here, though they do get to claim the big win in the end. There are far more casualties than Regis has ever had to deal with as a result of one of his plans, leading him to have even more self-loathing than his normal levels. Even worse, some of his plans actually don’t work, and he’s forced to watch in horror as the biggest, baddest mercenary in Britannia’s army ends up waltzing right into their camp and dueling Altina. Fortunately, they do also have a few things go their way, including some surprise new characters and the return of a beloved weapon. That said, the entire book may be dwarfed by the ending, which I will try not to spoil but which is definitely a game changer. Assuming that Belgaria manages to survive this war, they’re certainly going to have their hands full.

The series is in general a military chronicle, and not all that interested in romance. That said, Altina and Regis shippers should be relatively pleased with events towards the start of this book, though Altina really is going to have to spell things out to Bakarina levels in order to get past Regis’ self-image issues. She’s also growing up and getting smarter… and, more importantly, more inclined to think first and not act as impulsively. She asks Regis the reasons behind some of his decisions, and does not need it dumbed down quite as much as she did in Book 6. The conversation they have about balancing the present and the future is also excellent, with Regis trying to get Altina to be more forward thinking, and Altina trying to get Regis to see that “a land of peace” can in fact be an option to try, even in a land as warmongering as their own.

I will admit there was one plot twist that I found a bit eyebrow-raising, as the blacksmith who is trying to get Altina her now-repaired sword ends up meeting a seemingly harmless old man in the middle of a battlefield. I didn’t expect him to be harmless, but I was expecting him to be one of the enemy. The revelation that he ‘s actually Altina’s mentor is a bit too pat in a series that usually doesn’t rely on that sort of thing too much. That said, the end of the book is also extremely predictable in every possible way, but this time it works quite well, mostly as it’s fast, violent, and will spark a lot of plot in upcoming volumes more than Altina being reminded that fighting fair is something that you should not worry about on a battlefield.

This came out in Japan at the same time as a volume of short stories, which the author says complement the novel. Good news, we are getting the short story volume over here, but bad news, it’s coming out simultaneous with Volume 8, not 7. At least you know which to read first! In any case, still a good series with no magic or fantasy elements, just straight up alternate world battlefield.

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