Third Loop: The Nameless Princess and the Cruel Emperor, Vol. 1

By Iota AIUE and Misa Sazanami. Released in Japan as “Nanashi no Ōjo to Reikoku Kōtei: Shītagerareta Yōjo, Konse de wa Ryū to Mofumofu ni Dekiai Sarete Imasu” by M Novels f. Released in North America by Cross Infinite World. Translated by JCT.

So there is a trend in fiction in general… honestly it’s always been a trend… to mine the tragic backstory of the protagonist for emotional trauma in the reader. We are shown how utterly, utterly TERRIBLE their life has been to date. Usually this ends up becoming “but then this happened and suddenly all my karma reversed at once”, be it meeting the prince of your dreams or just buying a Super Cub. Third Loop, of course, is one of those books. Honestly, the reason I was so looking forward to it was the sheer over the top ludicrousness of the backstory in question. Our heroine does not have a name. She’s just called “That”. That said, this particular book, while it does not minimize all of the abuse she’s gotten, is more of a Cinderella story than anything else, and most of the abuse stems from a very real place: grief.

Not only is Princess That despised by her father (who says if he ever sees her he will have her executed) and servants (her head maid is trying actively to destroy her life), but this isn’t even her first life: this is now the fourth time she’s been through this. In previous lives she’d never really experienced enough love from anyone to realize the extent of her abuse, but now, having lived in one life long enough to escape the royal estate and be taken in by a commoner family, she knows what actual love is. As such, she now decides to fight back, be it using her past memories to appear to be a genius or “messenger of heaven” or just looking really sad and crying in front of sympathetic maids and knights. And, as it turns out, she’s really quite powerful, and in this fourth life, things finally start to go her way.

For the most part I really enjoyed this. The Emperor, Feilong, was deeply in love with his wife, to the point where it actively caused political issues. (Honestly, the backstory of the previous generation sounds more interesting than the main one being told here.) Unfortunately, she died giving birth to her daughter, and in his crushing despair, he decided that his daughter killed her. That said… it does not really take much to change his mind. Honestly, everyone in this book, with the exception of the head of the inner palace, Mion (who is aiming to be the Emperor’s new wife), is relatively easily won over by the princess, because it turns out that she is not, in fact, a monster but is plucky, smart and cute. The one drawback in the book is that once her father and brother are won over, they start to have “jealous of other men who are close to her” rage, which is used comedically but made me sigh, especially since in this life, the princess is three years old for the majority of the book.

This is another one of those books that feels complete in one volume, but there’s apparently at least two more. Fortunately, the nameless princess gets a name before the end of this book. I bet they don’t change the title, though. A rewarding read if you can get past the traumatic backstory of everyone.

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