Ascendance of a Bookworm: I’ll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!, Part 4: Founder of the Royal Academy’s So-Called Library Committee, Vol. 8

By Miya Kazuki and You Shiina. Released in Japan as “Honzuki no Gekokujou: Shisho ni Naru Tame ni wa Shudan wo Erandeiraremasen” by TO Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by quof.

This is the penultimate book in the fourth arc, and each of the arcs has featured a game-changing plot twist, so what we see happening in this book should not be a surprise, and yet it still feels a bit unreal. Ever since the 4th volume in the series, Ferdinand has been the second most important character after Rozemyne, and his presence… and ability to rescue her in case she got herself in a jam… were always there. Now he’s going to be leaving, and not in a happy way, either. As a reader, I know that something is going to happen to stop this, but I’m not sure when it will happen, meaning we may have to wait for Rozemyne to graduate before we get any results. And, um, I highly suspect that the civil war that keeps bubbling under will be underway well before then. Times are dangerous.

The first half of the book is pretty normal. Rozemyne finally meets her younger brother, Melchior, who is shorter than her! – just. She’s doing temple stuff, pushing publishing, and working on the finances of the duchy. Then we get the Archduke’s conference, and everything goes to hell, as Ferdinand is asked to marry Detlinde, an Ahrensbach noble. We know from the Royal Academy sections of the story that she’s the girl who wants to bully Rozemyne, so we already hate her. Needless to say, Ferdinand says no. Then the King tells him he has to do it. You cannot really say no to the King. We gradually over the course of the rest of the book hear the official reasons why this is happening, as well as the unofficial reasons, but hovering over all these is a secret reasons: Georgine is plotting bad, bad things.

One thing that this series has hammered home time and again is that very few marriages in this world are based on love, or even have any romantic feelings at all. Political and practical marriages are the watchword. Rozemyne is engaged to Wilfried, but neither of them really care about it. Angelica’s engagement is broken in this volume, and she literally has to practice being devastated by it, as in reality she just doesn’t care. So it’s not surprising that Ferdinand’s own feelings are being ignored here. (Indeed, a side story tells us that other duchies think he’s being abused by Sylvester and company!) But I mention this because the scenes with Ferdinand and Rozemyne here, while not romantic, are intense. She literally says that all he has to do is give the word and she will raise hell and go rescue him. Even if you are still wary of them as a match, it’s heartwarming in a familial sense.

The next volume, as noted, is the last one in this arc, and should feature Rozemyne and Ferdinand permanently “breaking up” – not that I expect that to actually happen. Will she be able to help? Will the country explode in war? And will Rozemyne ever stop looking like a 7-year-old so that all of this can get slightly less creepy? Can’t wait to find out.

Ascendance of a Bookworm: I’ll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!: Royal Academy Stories – First Year

By Miya Kazuki and You Shiina. Released in Japan as “Honzuki no Gekokujou: Shisho ni Naru Tame ni wa Shudan wo Erandeiraremasen” by TO Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by quof.

While we have gotten short stories at the end of each volume of Bookworm from the perspectives of the people in the cast who are not Myne/Rozemyne, it’s nice to have an entire volume that does not feature her at the center – in fact, a lot of these stories revolve around her absence. Instead we get a sense of what the Academy is supposed to be like for people who are not Rozemyne, and how she really is just tearing through everything like a bull in a china shop. There is political wrangling about tea parties, political wrangling about sports, and literal assault as a romantic overture. One thing I will note: everyone who said “I still hate Wilfried” as we went into the 4th arc should read this, as you really do feel bad for him. That said, anyone who hated Traugott will find only things that make you hate him more. I can’t believe he was once engaged to Best Girl.

Many of these stories are from Hannelore’s POV, and indeed the collection itself came about as the author wanted to find a place for the web-only Hannelore stories that didn’t fit into the main books. I can sum most of them up as “Being Hannelore Is Suffering” and leave it at that. There’s also a long story from the POV of Rauffen, the ditter-obsessed housemaster of Dunkenfelger, and how he proves to be much more on the ball than I had anticipated. And we get a wonderful story with Angelica, showing how even if she wants to serve Rozemyne for the rest of her life, she still has to realize what that actually means (though she also proves more emotionally adept than I had anticipated at handling the temple servants). And there’s Hartmut, as we see the short story that had been referenced before in the 7th book of Arc 4 (this volume came out in Japan before that one), and it’s a lot of fun.

I’d argue this is pretty essential reading even if it’s just short stories without Rozemyne in them. The discussion of ditter and what it was originally meant to do, as well as the changed made to it, forecast an ominous fate for the knights if there is, say, a civil war. The most ominous short story is the one with Ortwin and his sister Adolphine, who had been expecting a relatively easy and happy engagement, but thanks to Rozemyne’s intervention and the power of True Love, is going to get one that’s far less easy and far less happy. The words “I’m screwed” do not pass her lips, but they drench the text, and I think this is also going to play out in future volumes of the main series. And we also learn that even if she may only be 11 years old and look like she’s 7, Rozemyne is still a hot item, which helps explain why she got a rushed engagement. Powerful people want her in their duchy.

As with most short story collections of large series these days, this came out awkwardly after the books that refer to it. I assume that’s the usual rights issues and contract stuff. Still better than Re: Zero, which relies on “no, we’re not doing these volumes, just read the wiki to figure out who this is”. Thankfully, we have it now, and it’s a great read for Bookworm fans.

Ascendance of a Bookworm: I’ll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!, Part 4: Founder of the Royal Academy’s So-Called Library Committee, Vol. 7

By Miya Kazuki and You Shiina. Released in Japan as “Honzuki no Gekokujou: Shisho ni Naru Tame ni wa Shudan wo Erandeiraremasen” by TO Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by quof.

Each of the parts of this series expands and builds on the one before it. We begin with Myne pretty much confined to her tiny home and the immediate area around it, and this expands when she starts doing her paper thing and meets Benno. Then we expand into the temple environment, where we see our first exposure to the religion of this world, Myne’s role in it, and noble society, where there is a chasm so great that Myne has to die and Rozemyne has to be born in order for the plot to move forward. The third arc gives us all we want to know about nobles and their infighting, and ends with Rozemyne in a two-year coma. In the fourth arc, we move to the Royal Academy and begin to see Rozemyne seriously influencing people beyond her duchy, up to and including the royal family. We’ve still got two more books after this, but after this one I think we all know where things are headed. Civil war.

Rozemyne may spend the first half of the book away from the Academy, but that does not mean that this is a laid back and relaxed sort of book. Things get serious right away when she reads the Bible, trying to find the bits of the Book of Exodus describing how to build an altar (this world, alas, does not seem to have that), and finds that she can suddenly see a magic circle hovering over her Bible. Ferdinand is so unnerved by this that he urges her to never mention it to anyone or even remember she saw it… but then she has to give testimony about all the cool things she did in the previous book, and admit that she learned dark spells form the Bible she has… which is not the same as the Bible other duchies have. This almost sparks a holy war, and I’m pretty sure we aren’t done with it. But I suspect that the terrorist attack we get at graduation time will distract people from it just a tad.

There are many funny moments in this book, not least of which is the introduction of the perfect partner for Hartmut, a woman who is just as obsessed with Rozemyne as he is AND able to threaten to kill him with a knife. Every man’s dream. That said, it’s hard not to focus on the more serious parts. The attack is harrowing, and has a body count… though the body count is not from Ehrenfest, which sadly, given the way nobles think in this world, means they’re actually under suspicion. We also get a prologue showing us how much stress Hannelore is under merely by being in Rozemyne’s orbit, and an epilogue showing us the tragic past of Eglantine is even more tragic than we had previously been told. I have a sneaking suspicion that Eglantine’s pacifism is going to tie into future books, and I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

If you’re reading this series and wondering if you should pick up Book 19, you don’t need my review. But I’ll tell you anyway: yes, you should pick up Book 19. This remains a top-tier light novel series.