A Tale of the Secret Saint, Vol. 3

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.

I think I’m going to have to give up and accept that this series is never going to be quite what I want it to be. It will continue to have broad comedy and horrible tragedy rubbing elbows with each other, and not always be successful at blending. It will also consist of about half the actual book I want to read, and half side stories and extra stories. That said, now that I have done that, this was a pretty good book, giving us an extended flashback showing us exactly what life with Serafina was before her tragic end. Unsurprisingly, she’s a lot like Fia. We also meet Serafina’s aide, the Blue Knight, and learn of a near tragedy that happened a few years before said tragic end, which involves a pandemic and an uncaring government doing nothing to stop it because racism. Again, I think this was written before COVID, but…

That’s Serafina on the cover, by the way, rather than Fia, as well as Canopus, her Blue Knight. The book starts in the present, though, with Fia being invited to join Cyril as he returns to his homeland of Sutherland… which is also the homeland of Canopus, so Fia is interested in going so she can visit his grave. Unfortunately, Cyril’s parents were both of the Bad Royal variety, and as a result the populace has a seething hatred for knights in general and Cyril in particular. This may change with the arrival of Fia, who happens to look exactly like the sacred saint that they venerate. Can Fia manage to keep her true identity a secret, find out about Cyril’s tragic past, and attempt to assuage the population? Especially given there’s a return of the pandemic she fixed three hundred years earlier…

The answer to at least one of those questions proves to be no, though it also ties in with a rather vicious cliffhanger, so I won’t talk about it much here. (The cliffhanger is on Page 177 of 225, which is why I find the side stories kind of aggravating). There’s a rather serious look at racism here as well, especially in the “300 years ago” sections. The Sutherland people are actually an island people who moved there, and they have darker skin as well as slightly webbed hands – which, as you might imagine, leads to a lot of rage and disgust – the ever popular “filthy” gets used – and also gives us a hint as to why Serafina’s family ended up betraying her in the end (hint: because they’re bad people and she is not). I will admit that the introduction of the 13th Brigade Captain, which I honestly barely noticed at first, proves to be a bit convenient – but that’s only in hindsight, so I’ll have to give it a pass.

Fia is still deeply dippy a lot of the time, but that may change with the next book, which might force her to be more serious. Till then, this was better than the first two volumes.

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