From Old Country Bumpkin to Master Swordsman: My Hotshot Disciples Are All Grown Up Now, and They Won’t Leave Me Alone, Vol. 2

By Shigeru Sagazaki and Tetsuhiro Nabeshima. Released in Japan as “Katainaka no Ossan, Kensei ni Naru: Tada no Inaka no Kenjutsu Shihan Datta noni, Taisei Shita Deshitachi ga Ore o Hōttekurenai Ken” by SQEX Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

There’s almost a mini-genre now that can be summed up as “OP protagonist is excessively humble, does not realize their own OPness”. It can’t simply be that they’re constantly belittling themselves and saying anyone can do what they do with a little bit of effort, it’s that when we see them in action we know that this is demonstrably false, that they really are incredibly talented and special. Several times in these books we see Beryl fighting someone or something and thinking “huh, I guess they’re not all that strong, I wonder where the real fighters are” and it turning out that no, those are the real fighters. Heck, for the climax of this new volume the opposing soldiers of the church have to literally dope themselves to even try to be able to defeat him. The hotshot disciples of the title won’t leave him alone because he’s seriously hot stuff.

After the events of the last book, Beryl is in need of a new sword. What’s more, he finds that one of his ex-students, Kewlny, is using swords far too light for her muscular body, and needs to move to a much heavier sword. Fortunately, another one of his ex-students is a master blacksmith, who took a year to learn swordsmanship in order to better his craft. (He’s also not in love with Beryl, which reassures me that the “students” he taught are not all haremettes.) As he waits for his sword to be forged, he runs into a pickpocket who is, surprisingly, able to use magic. Unfortunately, the reason she’s picking pockets turns out to have a tragic origin, and of course Beryl gets involved. Could the reason for all this turn out to be an offshoot of the neighboring country’s religion?

Yeah, evil Church again, though at least we get a good priest to show that the evil church is mostly this one evil guy and his goons. It does, however, help us to codify what magic is in this world and what it can and cannot do. The reason that Mui (the pickpocket) using magic is so surprising is because people who are magic capable pretty much get snapped up and put into the academy, so the fact that she isn’t is surprising. We also hear why the folks who use magic are called Wizards and not Mages, and it makes sense in the context of this world. What’s more, there are things magic can’t do. From the moment “resurrection magic” came up, we knew that things were going to be headed down a dark path. I wasn’t sure if it would mean vampires or zombies, but I knew it would not lead to happy people back from the dead and fine. There *are* series that do that (Delicious in Dungeon comes to mind), but this one runs on stricter rules.

All this plus almost none of the silly romantic antics I was expecting this series to have. A look at the summary of the third book tells me that may change soon, but ah well. This has become a pleasant surprise.

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