Altina the Sword Princess: Loose Threads

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.

Yes, as you guessed from the title of the book, it’s time for a short story collection. That said, there’s only three stories in this volume, so they’re pretty long. The first of these stories is essentially an Encyclopedia Brown story with Regis as the title character and Altina as Sally, made all the more impressive by the fact that they haven’t actually met each other yet when it occurs. Altina is at her new command, but no one is taking her seriously yet. Meanwhile, Regis’ commander has just died and he’s busy waiting to be demoted/exiled. And then a crate of expensive wine goes missing in Altina’s camp, and they try to find the culprit. This shows off Regis’ ability to be “the smart one”, although frankly the solution to this problem was not all that hard. More to the point, it establishes the relationship he and Altina will have before they even see each other, and as such it’s rather sweet.

The second story is also a “how they met”, as we get a closer look at Eddie, the erstwhile knight protector and lover of Auguste… or rather of Felicia, the 5th princess who is pretending to be Auguste. There is some cute writing here, mostly in the author trying to have the reader think some sexytimes are happening and then having it be something totally innocent, but for the most part this is a serious story. Eddie is renowned for being a soldier who doesn’t kill, and as such is regarded as a coward and a failure, mostly as his detractors are a bit too rock-headed to see how strong you have to be to do the level of not-killing that Eddie does. The revelation that it was Felicia who started him on this path is a bit on the nose, but nice. I also enjoyed the multiple descriptions, both in this and the following story, of Altina as this monster who can lift cows by herself and is not someone to imitate at all.

The final story is the one specially written for this book (the other two were previously published), and continues the story of Bastian and Eliza from the fourth volume, who if you’ll recall were last seen near death and had a death warrant put on them by the usurper queen. They’ve managed to find refuge with one of the few families not willing to sell them out, but it’s still tough times. This story hammers home something we also saw in Eddie’s story, which is that the best way to have peace is not to fight. Unfortunately, that can be difficult, especially as Bastian’s family has been doing nothing but fighting for four centuries now. He also gets a crash course in democracy from a young student who is also having to lay low while the war is going on, and might be reconsidering the whole “noble/commoner” dichotomy. This is the most serious story in the book, and looks like it might serve as a way to get the third prince back into the main storyline.

Which we will see next time, as Altina the Sword Princess 8 is… already released! But definitely read this volume first. It’s a good collection.

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