Tearmoon Empire, Vol. 8

By Nozomu Mochitsuki and Gilse. Released in Japan as “Tearmoon Teikoku Monogatari” by TO Books. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by David Teng.

Tearmoon Empire is a very funny series. There are tons of scenes of Mia being silly or smug, other people misunderstanding her to comic effect, etc. But the series also knows when it’s time to be 100% serious, and that time is whenever get get a glimpse of what life was like in the original timelines. We’ve already seen how things progressed in Bel’s world (and see why Dion is her absolute hero, something that baffles both the Dion of this world as well as Citrina), but we’ve also seen the main cast occasionally have dreams of their prior lives. They’re never good dreams. It’s Tiona’s turn here, and it hits especially hard given that Mia was thinking that she hopes the Tiona and Sion of her past life, the “perfect couple”, lived happily ever after. Instead, in both Tiona and Sion’s case, we see that the need for vengeance, justice and revolution ended up driving them away from each other, and nobody ends up happy. Everyone should be relieved Mia went back in time.

Because no Tearmoon Empire volume can ever QUITE get the arcs to line up properly, we start with the end of the previous arc, as Mia fosters better relations between the Empire and its domain by doing the one thing that even the narrator admits she’s fantastic at: dancing. Feeling good about things, but reminded of her previous complacency, she decides to read her Bloody Diary. It’s a good thing she checked – now it says that Sion is assassinated in a month’s time. Coincidentally (or is it?), Esmeralda comes to Mia in a panic, as her father has said she'[s to be married off to a Sunkland noble. Realizing that she can go to Sunkland and stop Sion getting killed if she tags along with Esmeralda’s engagement party, Mia and her entourage visit Sion’s country for the first time. And, as it turns out, getting assassinated by bandits may be the least of Sion’s worries…

We do sometimes get the device of seeing Mia’s POV of a scene and then seeing the same scene again with another character, though not nearly to the extent of, say, My Next Life As a Villainess. And sometimes we don’t even need to get the other half of the scene because we can infer the heartwarming in our heads. Now that Citrina is no longer an enemy, she’s ready to do anything she can to help Mia – including, she assumes, what she’s be best at – killing people. But Mia assures her that she will never ask her to kill someone else for her, something that poleaxes Citrina. Yes, it’s framed around Mia wanting delicious mushrooms (as is most of the book, really) but the sentiment is also genuine. Mia wants as few people killed as possible, even if that might affect her end goal. It inspires Citrina, who is really crafty for such a young girl, to try to help Mia in slightly less permanent ways. Her growth was my favorite part of this book.

This volume spent most of its time setting up a stack of dominoes, but unfortunately we have to wait for the 9th volume to knock them over. Till then, this remains one of my absolute favorite light novel series.

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