The Ideal Sponger Life, Vol. 8

By Tsunehiko Watanabe and Jyuu Ayakura. Released in Japan as “Risou no Himo Seikatsu” by Hero Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by MPT.

The Ideal Sponger Life is doing a pretty good job of trying to strike a balance between fantasy (after all, this is a series with magic and dragons and the like) and realistic political outcomes. And one of the realistic political outcomes that comes up in this volume is Aura having to give up some of her power. This comes in two different ways – the first is appointing her general/rival as military leader, an unfortunate necessity now that she is pregnant with her second child. The second is finally giving in and admitting (and Zenjirou also has to admit this) that Freya has won the battle, and that she is now definitively going to be his first concubine. Ironically, this means that competition for additional concubines is heating up even MORE, as it means that he has a type other than “tall, strong, buxom amazon”, meaning there’s a larger pool of potential nobles stepping up to the plate. Starting with one who is probably going to be on the next few covers.

Freya is on her fourth straight cover, however this is effectively the end of her arc, as she and her crew have now finished repairs, and have to get back home to not-Sweden before the winter arrives there. She’s quite happy with Zenjirou himself, especially the way that he treats her as an equal, which I think she not only finds affirming but also arousing. That said, the heat is something that she’s going to have to get used to, and we see her and Skaji suffering through a typical “blazing season” here. Meanwhile, Nilda has arrived in the capital and needs training in how to be a noble, so ends up being hired as a palace maid – meaning, once again, that the three comedy maids are forced to step up their game and be more mature. As for Zenjirou, he finally masters teleportation – which means another mission to another country.

I must be honest, even if it weren’t for her name making me wonder if she was going to assassinate someone, I don’t think I’d be looking forward to the arrival of Lucrezia Broglie all that much. She’s far younger than his other love interests, and is deliberately being deceptive by pretending to be clumsy and naïve – something that, I suspect, is going to bite her in the ass when she gets to know the real him. Honestly, I’d be far happier with Bona as his next choice, but that does not appear to be happening, possibly as Aura thinks that she and Zenjirou are a bit TOO compatible. I do also wonder if we’re setting up for a throne war in the future – Aura is correct in that she’s going to have to start giving up some of her power, but in a heavily patriarchal society like this one, that’s power she’s likely never going to be able to get back. I worry about them.

All this plus, worst of all, no sex, as Aura is confirmed to be with child. Still, anyone reading this series for sex long since stopped, as I’ve said before. The politics is still first rate.

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