Accomplishments of the Duke’s Daughter, Vol. 7

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.

If the first book in the “Accomplishments of the Duchess” prequel was about discovering the hellion that Merellis once was, this volume is about showing us how she came to be the woman we know from the main series. In essence, this is also a book about her training for battle, it’s just the battles she’s going to face are in society rather than in the military, and the enemy is anyone who dares to look down on her. And, frankly, she takes to this just as well as she took to being a swordswoman. Frankly, as I’ve said before, Accomplishment of the Duke’s Daughter is not a series to read if you want to see protagonists struggling valiantly against impossible odds. For the most part, it’s about seeing women kick ass, in a variety of settings. In that regard, this volume works perfectly fine. And, in case you were worried we’d lose the awesome swordplay and butchering of enemies, no worries, we get a bit of that as well.

There is an ominous beginning, where Merellis’ father forbids her from taking up the sword and announces she’s going to be engaged to be married to the son of Duke Armelia, a political marriage. She suffers greatly over this for about five pages, but the reader is in on the joke, so we know everything will be fine once she figures out who the duke’s son is. After that it’s just a matter of shifting gears. If she can protect the most people around her through politics rather than the blade, then politics it is. As such, Louis’ mother gives Merellis a crash course in nobility, something she has assiduously been avoiding for the past several years. Just in time too, as it’s time for her to make her debut and attend the academy. Let’s hope it goes smoother for her than it did for her daughter…

I enjoyed seeing how Merellis’ training in military and the sword can be of use to her in society, particularly in how she watches the way people move and stand. Twins who are indebted to her father for saving their lives arrive at the estate, and Merellis can tell very rapidly that a) they have some basic fighting skills, and b) they’re OK to trust. These skills will serve her well. The book’s pacing is sometimes a problem, and sometimes the plots it drops can be more ominous than intended – Merellis’ old maid injures herself and is forced to return home, and there is a suggestion that she will die… which she may indeed have done, as we never hear from her for the rest of the book. It’s at times like these that the series shows off its seat-of-the-pants webnovel roots.

Fans of the main series may still be a bit put off that Iris is only in the wraparound at the start and end of this, but for those who found her mother to be a cool character, good news, here’s more of her.

Accomplishments of the Duke’s Daughter, Vol. 6

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 would be more accurate to call this volume, and apparently the two following it, “Accomplishments of the Duchess”, as we now begin an extended side story telling us about Iris’ mother Merellis. Featured in the first few books of the main series as a caring mother who seemed the sort to speak with her mouth behind a fan, the final book in the series showed us that behind all that etiquette is a dangerous swordswoman who will cut you down as soon as look at you. I said I wanted to hear her story, and it turns out iris does as well. Merellis’ past had never been revealed to her daughter, so Iris asks and Merellis tells up about her childhood, starting with the tragic murder of her mother by bandits, which sets her on a path leading to revenge and… well, revenge. What else does one need? the book was excellent, but fans of the series who loved it for the economic theory might be a bit thrown off.

After her mother’s funeral, Merellis is consumed with rage and a desire to take revenge on the bandits who did this to her family. Her father decides to train her in the sword to at least try to distract her, and, although from her own perspective the gains she makes and slow and inadequate, it’s actually rather terrifying how quickly she takes to it. Soon she is Mer, impersonating her own body double and rising through other guards, then knights, rapidly becoming an amazing military commander. Unfortunately, when all your life is dedicated to one goal, there are obstacles that are hard to overcome, such as your father getting his own revenge for his wife’s death and leaving you with no purpose in life. If only there was a guy her own age she could talk to about this…

As I said before, this feels like a completely different story. Merellis is not a meathead swordswoman, and very much shows she can take charge on a battlefield, but the book shows her worldview gradually opening up, as she goes from “I only care about my revenge” to “now what the hell do I do?” to “I want to protect my family” and then to “I want to protect others around me so that they do not suffer as I have”. At her side, though they’re not a couple yet (the two haven’t even hit puberty by the end of this first novel in the subseries, though the inner artwork may not have gotten that message) is Louis, son of the Prime Minster and Merellis’ future husband. She’s fairly smitten with him by the end of the book, but they also fight,as he tries to get her to see the bigger picture.

I suspect the next book will feature a lot more nobility and gowns and less fighting, but who knows? Merellis was clearly a little hellion until she got married (and then became a big hellion). This is a great book, but it’s nothing like its parent series, except maybe as it regards the greater good and how to move towards it.

Accomplishments of the Duke’s Daughter, Vol. 5

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.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, isn’t this series eight volumes in total? And yes, it definitely is. That said, this fifth book is the final one of the main series, resolving most of the plot points and wrapping up the love affair between Iris and Dean. Gonna be honest, it feels a bit rushed. This is very odd, as this comes from a webnovel, so by definition should not have to worry about “the book isn’t selling so well, wrap it up next volume” woes. That said, it still feels rushed. Leticia’s subplot is not exactly out of nowhere, but I wish we had another book to develop it more. Alfred’s fate is handled as dramatically as possible, and certainly devastates Iris, but the reader is just sighing and going “uh huh”, and I’m pretty sure the author knows this, so the impact is lessened. It’s a decent book, it just is not quite as good as previous ones.

Tasmeria is going to war, which means Iris has to return to her domain to prepare. Good thing, too, as her port is one of the first to be attacked… by a completely different country. Is this related to the proposal she got last volume? There’s also the problem of Alfred also having to go to war, as when you’re the recent victor of a throne war you don’t sit back in the palace and let others fight for you. Unfortunately, this turns tragic when Iris hears the news that he was killed by an archer’s arrow. Devastated, she loses herself in grief for a bit before managing to pull herself together in time for the rest of the war to wrap up smoothly… thanks in great part to her mother’s secret identity as the most feared warrior in the land. (Secret to Iris, at least.) That said… is Alfred/Dean really dead?

The best scenes in the book are probably a) the ones with Iris’ mother Merellis, who is sort of what happened if the “ohohohohohoho!” ojou could also kick your ass and stab you, and b) the subplot with Edward and Yuri. By this final volume Iris’ past life in Japan is not even mentioned once, and the villainess part has long been thrown out the window. It briefly comes back here, though, as Iris and Yuri have a final confrontation and Iris states bluntly that the fact that Yuri is afraid to trust anyone is what led to her downfall. If Yuri had confided in any of her love interests, particularly Edward, things may have been different. Edward and Yuri’s story also impacts Leticia, who is essentially taking over the entire country this book, and for the most part doing it regally and stoically – though the cracks do show on occasion. I wish we’d seen more of her.

I also wish we’d seen more of Marellis’ past, but that’s being taken care of, as the next volume will tell us her story. Till then, this is the end of Iris’ story, and she’s happy, but I’d give the book only a ‘satisfactory’ as a grade.