Rising from Ashes: My Dear Emperor, You’re Putty in My Hands!, Vol. 2

By Makino Maebaru and Yoko Matsurika. Released in Japan as “Torotoro ni Shite Sashiagemasu, Kōtei Heika. Moto Konyakusha ni Ie o Yakareta Tsuihō Miko wa, Ringoku Kōtei ni Chōai Sarete Sainō o Hanahirakaseru” on the Shōsetsuka ni Narō website. Released in North America by Cross Infinite World. Translated by Zihan Gao.

As with the first volume, this is a series that I find interesting for its darker elements more than the romance at its core (though I will admit to a fondness for Sai’s dorky maid, who at one point vows to defend her mistress by hitting a man with a broom over and over… and then we fond out he’s the king of a foreign nation. Luckily, he’s amused). Lilly, the Saint who has been busy destroying Sai’s home country since the start of the first book, is barely in this. When we do finally see her, at the very end, Sai is there to sacrifice her own life to send Lilly back to Japan… which is a shame, as Lilly would rather die than go back there. In fact, that’s her goal. She’s riveting, and I wish her fate was a bit less vague.

Everything’s been going well for Sai lately. The Wagtail Priestess is hideously popular… indeed, perhaps a bit TOO popular, as a visit to an island that’s also a penal colony proves. Indeed, she’s so popular that she’s getting a lot of marriage proposals… mostly as her daughter will, of course, have the same powers. But there’s a slight hiccup – Sai’s in love with the Emperor, and the Empress can’t be the Wagtail priestess because *she* has to give birth to the next God. And that’s not even getting into Sai’s terminally low self-image. With all this going on, honestly, a request from her old country, which is now being completely destroyed, to get rid of the Saint might be a welcome distraction.

A bit of a spoiler here, but it’s also my biggest issue with this series: given that so much of Sai’s personality and backstory revolves around her beloved parents dying in war and her abusive, Cinderella before the ball childhood, the revelation that her parents *are* still alive… and in fact that she has a sister… really reads like a rabbit out of the hat too many. Then again, it might have been the only way to possibly get the writer out of the hole they’d written themselves into. When you have various things that can only be done by sacrificing life, magic, or life AND magic, sometimes it helps to have a spare daughter who can take up the slack. The book ends rather abruptly in general, to be honest. The fate of Centoria, with a queen who was presented as being very sympathetic, is basically “eventually the country fell” with no other explanation. And Haruka and Sai’s wedding is confined to an “extra story”, not even wrapping up the main series. Ah well.

As with the first volume, this wasn’t terrible or anything, but it’s definitely in third place (of three) in terms of series by this author which have come out over here.

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