A Tale of the Secret Saint, Vol. 2

By Touya and chibi. Released in Japan as “Tensei Sita Daiseijyo ha, Seijyo Dearuko Towohitakakusu” by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by Airship. Translated by Kevin Ishizaka. Adapted by Matthew Birkenhauer.

At least I can respect its consistency, as the 2nd volume of Secret Saint has exactly the same flaws as the first volume did. It can be a lot of silly fun, especially when Fia is forced to be the straight ma in the group despite the fact that she is an airhead 100% of the time. This even holds true, mostly, for the fighting scenes when our heroes are battling the most deadly monsters they’ve ever seen before and Fia reacts the same way you would if you spotted a blue tit in your bird book. On the other hand, it does mean that when we get to the more serious stuff involving the pasts of both Fia and Zavilia, it feels out of place. It’s written well, don’t get me wrong, but out of place. Also not helping things is that this book is technically only 130 pages – the other 80 or so are side stories, interludes and bonus stories, meaning we don’t get much of the main plot.

After the events of the first book, it’s clear that Quentin, at least, has figured out who Fia’s tamed familiar really is. Unfortunately, that makes him into goofy airhead #2, as when he’s talking about powerful monsters he gets obsessive and over the top. The knights are going to set out on a mission to try to drive out the black dragon that is presumed to be in the forest and send it back to its lair, thus solving the “why are so many monsters hovering around here lately?” problem. There are two issues with this plan: 1) the reason the powerful monsters are coming around is they’re drawn to Fia; and b) the powerful black dragon is in fact the familiar that she’s putting bows on to make it look cuter. Still, I’m sure nothing will go wrong, even if it means forcing all the soldiers to deny everything they just saw.

While they feel awkwardly out of place, I will admit that the more serious parts of the story are also the most memorable. Zavilia’s past is the Ugly Duckling gone horribly wrong, and its moral is basically “people are assholes even if they’re dragons”. Far more impactful is Zackary, the most sensible of the captains, trying to get Fia to confess who she really is. She almost does, and feels like she can trust him, but when she starts to do so she has a complete panic attack. This is quite well handled, and Zackary does a good job of helping her recover and backing off, but it’s clear that the trauma of her past life is not remotely something she has gotten over, and therefore allies are going to need to either rely on good faith or assume that the world has turned weird.

I’d argue that if you’re looking for fun overpowered dimwitted swordswomen, Reborn to Master the Blade is probably a better choice. This is still pretty good, thogh, I do hope volume 3 gives us a bit less “let’s pad out the book with other people’s POV”.

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