Reign of the Seven Spellblades, Vol. 5

By Bokuto Uno and Miyuki Ruria. Released in Japan as “Nanatsu no Maken ga Shihai suru” by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

It’s been several books since we’ve had to deal with the revelation that we got at the end of Book One, which is to say it’s been a while since Oliver and his allies have tried to murder a teacher. Good news! We get that here, as the academy’s resident mad scientist is next on the chopping block. More good news is that we also get a lot more explanations and backstory for exactly what is going on. Being Seven Spellblades, of course, it’s complex, and its discussion of Gnostics and Gnostic Hunters is very reminiscent of the battle for the “true face” of Christianity around the time of the Apostle Paul. There’s more suggestions that by the time this series is over Oliver will be dead or evil, but honestly, that’s not really a surprise anymore. Revenge is sometimes more important than… well, everything else. That said, boy, this revenge was costly. If the body count goes up with each dead teacher, the academy may be empty by the final book.

The book opens to a flashback showing us Chloe Two-Blade, the legendary Gnostic Hunter, and her fight against the Lovecraftian wyrms that have devastated her comrades. Hold that thought, because we then move back to the present, as our heroes try to tame griffins the hard way, learn about astronomy (which honestly seems more like history than anything else), and worry about Nanao, who has unfortunately Been Noticed – not only by Chela’s father but also by the headmistress of the academy, and you really don’t want to get noticed by her. Also, Professor Forggieri takes Pete on a tour of his mad scientist lab, with Oliver and Nanao tagging along. Still, there’s a sense of unease and tension throughout the book… which lets out in the second half, which is one big battle to kill said mad scientist.

Our main cast are probably safe, at least until the second to last book where one of them will tragically sacrifice themselves (my money’s on Chela), but the book is here to remind you that anyone else can die, as we’re introduced to more students who seem fun, powerful, and who are in the end sacrifices to help Oliver get his revenge. Even aside from Oliver, Guy and Katie meet a student who cheerfully says he’ll die soon due to experimentation, and try not to be like him. this is a super dangerous place, and even after graduation there’s no guarantee you won’t die fighting monsters from beyond our ken… or end up being brutally tortured and murdered by your allies. I really enjoy the religious subtext at the back of this series, and how it’s trying to show you that kindness is not a virtue here – something that may prove Oliver’s undoing, as little hints here and there suggest that we’re building up to a final battle between him and Nanao.

Fans of this series should be quite happy, as long as they don’t get too attached to anyone, and are familiar with 2nd-century religious persecution.

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