Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire, Vol. 5

By Hayaken and Nagu. Released in Japan as “Eiyu-oh, Bu wo Kiwameru tame Tensei su. Soshite, Sekai Saikyou no Minarai Kisi ♀” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Mike Langwiser.

I am deliberately not reading prior reviews of this (which I normally do), because I know I will be typing the exact same goddamn thing again. There’s just no avoiding it. So here we go: This series only has one joke. It’s STILL a good joke. That said, the dichotomy between Reborn to Master the Blade as amusing reading about a meathead and her slightly less meathead sister and Reborn to Master the Blade as a dark fantasy with a lot of casual death is widening, and it does not always mesh together well. There’s a moment in this book where an entire city rises into the air, and Inglis notes that this is likely due to a LOT of people being executed to harvest their energy. And, as it turns out later, she is correct. However, we barely notice this as we’re listening to Inglis trying to figure out how to clone herself to solve her fighting problems.

Inglis and company are traveling in secret to Alcard, in order to try to do something about the impending war. Unfortunately, Alcard has changed a LOT since the last time Lahti, Pullum and Ian were there. The people are starving to death, their food having been taken at the behest of their heiral menace, Tiffanyer, who has the power to make anyone sing “I Think We’re Alone Now”… erm, well, I’m not sure if her power is literal brainwashing or merely incredible charisma, but she’s won over a lot of the knights of Alcard, including Lahti’s older brother. She’s also hella strong, meaning Inglish is having trouble focusing on the mission and not focusing on getting a really good fight with Tiffanyer. That said, the thing that shows up at the very end of the book makes even our favorite meathead step back and pause to reflect.

Again, the one joke is a REALLY GOOD JOKE. The running idea of Inglis thinking about cloning herself, and being told the many ways this is a bad idea, then trying to fix it by tripling herself… it’s hilarious. It will never happen, and THANK GOD, but it’s hilarious anyway. I also loved the desperate stupidity of the world’s two hungriest girls trying to get by on eating snow with sugar and salt sprinkled on top of it. Beyond that, however, things are pretty dark. There’s one point where they literally find a church full of dead children who starved to death due to the machinations of Tiffanyer. What’s more, she’s not merely evil for evil’s sake – she’s grabbing what she can because she knows the penalty for failure. It’s increasingly likely that peace is not something that’s coming anytime soon. And given what shows up at the end of the book, apocalypse is looking a bit more likely.

If you can tolerate the book turning from “this is a horrible tragedy with the corpses of children” to “dur hur Inglis love fighting!” this is still a fun series. Plus the books read fast.

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