The Magician Who Rose from Failure: Tales of War and Magic, Vol. 3

By Hitsuji Gamei and Fushimi Saika. Released in Japan as “Shikkaku Kara Hajimeru Nariagari Madō Shidō! ~ Jumon Kaihatsu Tokidoki Senki ~” by GC Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Alexandra Owen-Burns.

It’s time to talk about a tragic problem facing many young manga and light novel characters today. They’re young, clever, they want to be helpful. And yet… everyone seems to be suspicious of them. How sad! Is it because they never seem to show you which side they’re really on? Is it because they exude an aura of “I could be incredibly evil, if I wanted, but I choose not to be?” No, we all know the real reason. It’s because they never open their eyes. Studies have shown that nine out of ten characters who smile while constantly having their eyes shut later turn out to be villains in some way, shape or form. (Well, if they’re guys. For women, please see the “ara, ara” subclause.) As such, we identify very much with Arcus in this book as he meets a strange merchant who really wants to establish a connection with him, but cannot really get past looking and feeling incredibly shifty.

Despite the cover promising us delicious pizza, for the most part this book is all about battles and intrigue. After briefly spending a morning flirting with Sue (well, flirting on her end, not his), Arcus runs into a slight problem: he has to get silver to make more of his cool magic thermometer, but someone is buying all the silver in the kingdom. As such, he and his two bodyguards head west to a holding with lots of silver mines. There, they run into a different problem – bandits, who are busily trying to destroy a village, though it looks like their hearts aren’t really in it. Could these two problems be related? And can Arcus manage to figure this all out without a war starting between his country and the Empire? Oh yes, and in the meantime his sister is going on a magical quest and getting possessed by her ancient ancestors.

As with previous volumes, Magician Who Rose from Failure is good enough that you want to read the next book in the series, but not really good enough that you have a lot to talk about with someone else. Arcus remains cool. He gets to use his magic here, and everyone is amazed at how powerful he is. There is a bit more brutal death than the previous books, and Arcus briefly looks queasy about that, but by the end of the book he’s recovered enough to immolate one of the bad guys. We also meet the son of the local Lord, Deet, who has a minder of his own and who looks like the sort of kid who wandered into this series from the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump, He’s fun, and contrasts nicely with the staid and calm Arcus.

As the author indicates in the afterword,the next volume will likely focus more on the ‘war’ part of the book rather than the ‘magic’ part. Till then, this series remains ‘solid’, for good and ill.

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