Accomplishments of the Duke’s Daughter, Vol. 3

By Reia and Haduki Futaba. Released in Japan as “Koushaku Reijou no Tashinami” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Andria Cheng.

You can try to take the otome game aspect of your book out of the book, but it still might be coming back regardless. As I said back with the first volume, this feels very much like a book that wanted to just be political intrigue, but Villainess stories were blowing up, so this is an easy way to tie it into that fad. But the author has done a good job of tying it in regardless. Iris may have escaped the fate she had in the game, and also escaped being excommunicated in the last volume, but that doesn’t mean that danger is over – not only is the Queen still trying to get rid of her, but even the tiniest issues in her governership turn out to snowball into near-disasters. What’s more, it’s not just her dukedom – we’re getting closer and closer to a throne war, and one that might actually spill out into a real war. Iris is going to have to finally let go of her peaceful Japanese past memories and admit she might have to send people to die for her.

Iris is still in the capital dealing with the fallout from her failed excommunication, which in some ways is good – it allows her to meet Dean’s sister, who is gorgeous and very similar to Iris and totally not the princess in disguise, nope – but in other ways is not so good, as her mood has been dropping the longer they’re there. Back in her own home she feels better, but having been away for so long the work has gotten appallingly backed up. Fortunately, Dean just happens to be free for a bit, so is able to help her with it. Then there’s the problem of Yuri’s castoffs – now that she’s engaged to Edward, the others who were hovering around her are needing to find something else to do with their lives. It’s not going well. Indeed, Yuri may not in fact be the cute young otome game heroine she appears to me…

There is, of course, quite a bit of romance going on here. It is a romance series. Of course, we’re not ready to do anything with it just yet. It is also interesting to contrast Albert’s motivations for doing what he does with Yuri’s. Both are very driven people trying to get past the death of their mother, but one is trying to save the kingdom and the other to destroy it. Yeah, sorry, it’s not that much of a spoiler – Yuri is indeed our real villainess. That said, we start to get at least some movement towards her not being a cartoon. I also really liked the story with Iris’ aides as well – Tanya and Dida may not be a couple just yet, but you get the feeling it’s gonna happen right after Iris and Dean happens. I don’t blame them for ignoring love right now, though – there’s simply no time to relax and de-stress here.

The volumes have been getting better as they go along, which is definitely a good thing. Read it for the politics, but don’t give up on the Villainess plot too much – there’s still a bit of work to do there as well.

Accomplishments of the Duke’s Daughter, Vol. 2

By Reia and Haduki Futaba. Released in Japan as “Koushaku Reijou no Tashinami” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Andria Cheng.

It’s not always easy trying to reform something. First of all, how much can you really do? Iris is the acting governor of her land, and is doing a great job of building it up and modernizing it. But what about the next domain over? What about the entire Kingdom? What about the Kingdom next door, which is not nearly as well off as you are? These are not questions one can easily answer, and Iris has trouble coming up with answers either, though she’s doing her best to try to make changes that everyone is going to want to emulate. Fortunately, as I noted in my previous review, she has a ridiculous number of allies who are there to help her make those changes. Unfortunately, she also still has a large number of enemies. The villainess otome game aspect of this continues to be a very small part, while the politicking and intrigue are definitely at the forefront. Which is for the best, really.

Iris may be the glory of Armelia, but that means little to the Kingdom as a whole, which does not know she’s behind the Azuta Corporation and thinks of her as the noble who got shunned by the second prince. That said, an invitation by the Queen Dowager to a major function helps her start to reintegrate into high society, helped along by the prince, who is being an absolute dick, and also Yuri, the protagonist of the otome game that this supposedly is based on, who is at best ridiculously unaware of everything and at worst an actual enemy agent. Then, just when things seem to be going really well, word comes from the Church that Iris has been excommunicated! With employees leaving her company and neighboring domains refusing to allow trade, is there anything Iris can do to possibly get herself out of this? If only she had a really hot assistant who was secretly the first prince…

As I said earlier, the otome game aspect of these books is minimized, but I do want to come back to the character of Yuri. I’m not sure if the author of Duke’s Daughter read My Next Life as a Villainess before starting this (there are many other examples of the genre, but Villainess did begin on the web about 8 months before this title), but it’s hard to look at Yuri and not see Evil Maria. Which makes sense, given that Iris is essentially Good Original Catarina, without the personality of the Japanese girl overwriting her. I appreciate that Iris can’t be sure if Yuri is a spy that is seeking to have the kingdom collapse simply because if she is, she’s so bad at it. There are many other ways to go about doing this rather than acting like a cliched otome game heroine trying to get all the Good Ends with the various boys. I doubt we’ll ever get anything from Yuri’s perspective, but it would be interesting.

With another crisis solved, you’d think the series would be wrapping up quickly. But alas, the first Prince absolutely does not want to marry Iris, as he’s far too content seeing her “flying free” and changing the entire world. it’s hard to disagree with him. That said, I hope Dean sticks around, if only for her own mental health. This was an improvement on the first volume, though it has the same flaws.

Accomplishments of the Duke’s Daughter, Vol. 1

By Reia and Haduki Futaba. Released in Japan as “Koushaku Reijou no Tashinami” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Alexander Keller-Nelson.

Seven Seas has been circling back a bit now that light novels actually sell and has picked up a few of the books they chose to only pick up the manga for earlier. The one that interested me most is this title, whose manga I had reviewed the first volume of in 2018. Since it’s come out, we’ve seen a boom in “villainess” works, mostly helped along by My Next Life As a Villainess but with a bit of help from this series as well. Unfortunately, the novel coming out now does sort of give the reader the feeling that they’ve read this all before, even though it was one of the first to pull off this plot. That said, the isekai aspect of it is barely touched on, and it’s clear that it’s more an excuse for the author to write political intrigue and worldbuilding. To be fair to the author, they are very good at that. As is Iris, though she’s helped along by a built-in support system.

An unnamed young woman, after being hit by a car in Japan, wakes up inside an otome game she enjoyed playing. Who she was is unimportant, because unlike other villainess books in this genre, Iris Armelia is still fully in charge here. Unfortunately, she’s about to get thrown out of school after bullying the “heroine”, and then exiled to a nunnery. Iris, whose influx of isekai memories has caused her jealous heart to come to its senses, is having none of that. She goes to negotiate with her father and, after proving that she’s no longer a lovestruck young lady, he puts her in charge of their local fiefdom. And it needs someone like her in charge – the economy is struggling, there’s a huge gap between rich and poor, and even basic needs such as medicine are hard to come by. Can a former villainess manage to turn things around? And introduce chocolate to the masses?

The biggest fault here is the same as I mentioned in my review of the manga – for a villainess, Iris certainly seems to have everyone on her side already. Her behavior towards Yuri is explained away by iris (and, indeed, the narrative) as basically a temporary lapse of reason, as for the most part she’s been a sensible and kind young noble, whose ENTIRE servant group comes from orphans she rescued from dying in the gutter. (Is this where all the other books get it from?) She has a capable butler, a doting and incredibly strong grandfather, and her savvy mother, who is such fun to read about you wish that she’d get a multi-volume prequel written about her past by the same author. (Good news on that front, though it’s not licensed here.) And of course there’s Dean, whose secret identity is not so secret to anybody but Iris, but that’s fine – he’s there to save her from literally working herself to death, and also setting himself up as the one non-problematic love interest in her life. Villainess? She’s loaded with allies, and did not even need to fall and whack her head to get them.

I definitely think this is a must for fans of the manga. That said, I suspect fans of “I’m in charge of a country and must reform the nobility” books, such as Realist Hero, might get more out of this than the standard Villainess reader. I’m definitely picking up more, though.