Altina the Sword Princess, Vol. 11

By Yukiya Murasaki and himesuz. Released in Japan as “Haken no Kouki Altina” by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Roy Nukia.

It’s actually surprising how little Altina the Sword Princess has leaned into the usual anime cliches. It’s very concerned with its sort-of-Europe worldbuilding, and therefore there’s no real room for a lot of bath scenes or accidental groping. I say it’s surprising because this is, after all, the author of How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord, a series begun after Altina had started and which eventually grew so popular it may have led to Altina’s extended hiatus. In any case, all that changes here, as Regis, in order to avoid getting caught by Latrielle’s troops, has to disguise himself as a woman. And he makes a very good woman indeed. Cue a lot of “I didn’t know you were into that” jokes, with furious denials. Fortunately, like most everything in this series, it serves the purpose of keeping the plot going, as Regis, now that he has made a mortal enemy, has to do everything possible to stop Latrielle becoming the next Emperor.

We pick up where we left off last time, with Regis and Fanrine being horribly murdered by Latrielle’s soldiers. Except of course they are not – their deaths are faked and they’re spirited away by Jessica and Franziska, who are trying hard to be big bad mercenaries but can’t quite be evil enough. That said, headless corpses, both of whom turn out to be men, is not going to fool the army for long, so Regis goes into disguise to try to get more evidence against Latrielle. The only thing that can really stop him becoming emperor now is for the news of his patricide to come out, but unfortunately all they have is secondhand rumors, mostly as the maids and staff who were there when it happened are all quietly murdered too. Fortunately they also have the Grand Chamberlain, who is under house arrest not avoid him talking. That said, if they had an ally who was ALSO a prince, house arrest might not be too hard to get around.

If you’re wondering how Altina is taking all this, well, she is actually in this book, fear not. She received news of Regis’ tragic “death in battle” and doesn’t believe it one bit but it’s annoying enough to make her take a large part of her army and head over to where Latrielle is, leaving us with a cliffhanger confrontation. (There’s also a side story which shows that being the Sword Princess is possibly the best thing that ever happened to her, as she’s useless at everything else. It also shows the whole “maids have to put up with sexual harassment” thing is bullshit if your superior officer can punch you unconscious. Other than that, as the author admits, this was a lot of talk and moving pieces around and not a lot of action, though that looks to change in the next book.

Altina is the definition of a ‘solid’ series – you’ll never rush to read it the day it comes out, but it’s always good.

Altina the Sword Princess, Vol. 10

By Yukiya Murasaki and himesuz. Released in Japan as “Haken no Kouki Altina” by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Roy Nukia.

Well, after a couple of volumes where she played a very small role, this volumes finally gives us what we’ve sort of been expecting. Altina the Sword Princess does not appear in it. Instead, we finish up Regis’ time on the side of Latrielle, as we get the second half of the big siege we started in Book 9, and also bring to an end the war with Britannia. I had sort of guessed that the war was going to end in this volume, if only as a minor character I did not expect to die brutally died brutally, and the denouement is pretty much everything you want in a military-themed light novel series. Unfortunately for Regis, he has made himself far, FAR too valuable. This is not merely a matter of taking a promotion exam and returning to Altina’s side anymore. Especially as Latrielle reveals his plans for the future of the nation, and they are absolutely terrifying. So now the big question becomes: can Regis survive?

Regis has reason to be concerned about his plans, of course. A lot of them rely on their soldier in the walled city itself, Varese, and the teenage girl who has basically decided to glom onto him and live or die with him. Unfortunately for her, that comes close to meaning dying, though I am hopeful we’ll hear from them again. As for the plan to fight the massive army, things are helped along by the mercenary corps suddenly deserting the enemy army mysteriously, which is good news for our heroes… for now. Eventually everything comes down to stopping the Queen from escaping back to Britannia, which of course means stopping Oswald, something that that Regis is thoroughly incapable of doing if it requires physical strength. Fortunately, he has a wannabe emperor at his side.

There are a few highlights in this book, but in terms of the ongoing plot I think the biggie is Latrielle’s plan for the future of the country, with Regis’ occasional interjections pointing out the difficulties. The biggest one, I think, is only alluded to, which is this kind of military dictatorship Latrielle wants is only really feasible while he’s alive. It is quite brave and also quite stupid of Regis to essentially tell the future King, to his face, “no, I disagree with everything you say, I’m going to return to my liege now”. No surprise that the book ends with Latrielle essentially ordering a halt to Regis’ future prospects. Even the romance in the book is fraught with peril. Regis does his best Catarina Claes impression when Fanrine, the noble who’s fallen in love with him, gives him the old Japanese staple “I want to cook for you for the rest of your life” and his response is essentially “That would be great. But sadly, I’m about to be assassinated.”

Still, quite a strong volume, and one that both makes me happy that the next one is coming soon and sad that we’re about to hit the series’ “end” – the author has been busy with other better-selling series like How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord for the last three years. But we have a few volumes to go till that happens. Till then, enjoy Regis the Strategist, with no appearances by Altina.

Also Laetrile’s plot would never work as he’s banned in the US! (Obscure, I know.)

Altina the Sword Princess, Vol. 9

By Yukiya Murasaki and himesuz. Released in Japan as “Haken no Kouki Altina” by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Roy Nukia.

I’ve been waiting for plot developments like the end of this volume to happen for some time. Regis is a bit of a Golden Boy throughout the series – that’s the point, he uses his brains and Altina’s brawn and royal presence to help seize the day, even when it’s involving a bubbling under civil war. And now he’s been noticed enough that he’s forced from her side to Latrielle, the heir apparent, and is giving him the best advice fictional books can buy. Now, we’ve seen him lose troops based on his decisions before, to the point where he almost passed out, but the advice was correct and they won the day. Here, though, not to spoil too much, his advice is good but they do not win the day. Someone has anticipated him. They lose, and there are many casualties. And this is when you realize that, for all that the country is supposed to be on the same side fighting Britannia, Regis is very much surrounded by enemies.

Of course, the book is not just about Regis. Jessica, Franziska and Martina want to rescue their brother, but can’t, and they’re deep in enemy territory. So they accept the kind offer of the man who saved them last time to stay at his place. His place, of course, turns out to be the castle, much to their shock. (Elize is there as well, but one senses the author is not really sure what to do with her.) Altina is back at her fortress, dealing with Eric’s game-breaking injury, and finds that even though Regis is away from her side he can still come up with advice to win the day – in this case, suggesting a career change for Eric that would still allow them to remain a soldier protecting Altina. We get a brief glimpse of the enemy, which is dealing with a major problem – Queen Margaret is bored with all this and therefore doesn’t care what happens.

And then, as I noted, we get Regis’ plan to defeat the enemy, which is anticipated and rebuffed. He does get in one small triumph, which allows us to meet yet another new cast member and promises to take up a chunk of Book 10, but it also involves the deaths of a LOT of men – and these are not his own troops of the Fourth Division, which is back at Altina’s side. The generals were already annoyed with Regis for sacrificing their units earlier, they’re now livid. Fortunately for Regis, Latrielle is not stupid, and knows that the plan could have worked and exactly who was clever enough to anticipate it. The generals may be angry, but they know not to argue with their future King. As for Regis, I think it’s a good lesson for him, especially mentally. Now if he can only work on his physical stamina, which is laughably pathetic.

The author already admitted the final part of this book got so long it has to finish in the next book, so we’ll see what happens then. In the meantime, this is a solid volume of Altina that shows events moving along slowly but surely – will we see the end of the war with Britannia next time?