Ascendance of a Bookworm: I’ll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!, Part 5: Avatar of a Goddess, Vol. 9

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.

Thankfully, after the start of this volume, things are allowed to calm down a bit, as we have the aftermath of what’s benn happening for the last two book. Unfortunately, that means that the start of this volume absolutely does not calm down at all. I hate that it happens to her, but one of the best plotlines I’ve seen so far in this series is Rozemyne being in the thick of the battlefield, and what it does to her psyche afterward. PTSD does not really seem to be a thing here, and indeed we are on Rozemyne’s side. Why the hell is everyone so used to war and slaughter? People turning into feystones when they die has been around for some time, but it’s still “this is a fantasy world with magic, not real”. It’s not till Sylvester does the equivalent of pulling Georgine’s corpse out of his robes and slamming it on the table in front of her that she really snaps.

As I noted above, the start of this book is the fight against Grausam, who actually turns out to be in several places at once… which leads to the conclusion that Georgine is as well. Moreover, the battle ends up having to involve ONLY Rozemyne and Matthias for plot reasons, and she not only sees many soldiers have limbs cut off, get poisoned and turn into multiple feystones hitting against her pandabus, but she has to turn the pandabus into a kaiju in order to finally take (the real) Grausam down. At the same time, they are told that Sylvester has managed to defend the foundation and kill Georgine, and they can all return to Ehrenfest (after paying off Dunkenfelger with some booze). Unfortunately, thanks to the battle, Rozemyne can’t even look at a feystone. What’s worse, she has to figure out what to do now – and how Ferdinand is going to be involved in whatever she does.

If there is a lighter side to this rather heavy book, it’s seeing Rozemyne continue to explain how what she feels for Ferdinand is not, in fact, love. Again, this is Rozemyne and her life in Japan, where she’d never had a boyfriend or lover, trying to apply romance-novel rules to love. Love is desire, love is sex, etc. She doesn’t have those feelings for Ferdinand. But every OTHER part of love is literally exactly what she describes her ideal life with Ferdinand to be, and it’s no wonder that Hannelore and the others stare at her as if she’s out of her mind. To their society, where almost everyone marries for political reasons and having a marriage based on love and sex is seen as really weird (see: Sylvester and Florencia), what this is is just Rozemyne saying “Sure, I love him, but it’s not love because I say so.” It’s amusing, but in a sort of dark way.

As with the previous book, the last quarter of it is devoted to filling in the war from the POV of people who are not Rozemyne. We see Charlotte’s attempts to administrate everything, and are reminded that, with Rozemyne leaving and Wilfried… being Wilfried, she’s the next Aub, at least for now. Judithe has to deal with the fact that she’s defending the temple, and not in a more important role. (Judithe is also the utter innocent of the book, assuming everyone is going out to look at flowers and not, y’know, “pick” them.) Gunther gets to PUNCH THE EVIL AWAY thanks to the power of the love his family has for him and his shonen dad power. Florencia gets to have a nice chat with Veronica and finally move on and forget about her. And Sylvester gets to narrowly escape being poisoned to death but, to the very end, still not understand the boiling rage and hatred that is making Georgine do this. It’s very well done.

So much going on here that I haven’t even touched on. I’m sure the 10th book in this arc will be fine and filled with tea and snacks.

Ascendance of a Bookworm: I’ll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!, Part 5: Avatar of a Goddess, 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.

Most of the time, summarizing each plot of a typical volume of Bookworm can be difficult, and I inevitably leave things out, because these are chunky books and a ton keeps happening. That’s true here as well, but it’s a lot easier to summarize: War. We saw the start of it at the end of the previous book, but this one sees the full consequences: Rozemyne, with the help of Dunkenfelger’s battle-happy soldiers, invades Ahrensbach in order to save Ferdinand, while Ehrenfest prepares for Ahrensbach, or rather the more easily manipulated bits of Ahrensbach, to invade them, while Georgine herself goes incognito in order to assassinate Sylvester. Hell, even Hannelore, normally the scared fluffy bunny of this series, is in armor, ready for battle, and controlling a group of nasty looking fantasy Dobermans. As for Rozemyne herself, she’s going to basically do anything to get her “family” back together, even if that means becoming the Aub of her greatest enemy’s territory.

I hate to be a broken record, but Bookworm really does alternate viewpoints well. It’s a common feature in Japanese light novels, but usually the way that it’s done as like My Next Life As a Villainess does it: we get a scene from our heroine’s perspective, and then we see the same scene from the perspective of someone else who was in the scene, showing what they felt about everything. With Bookworm, the POV switches really are necessary, because Rozemyne’s lack of common sense (both because she’s used to the ethics, morals and customs of 21st century Japan and also, let’s face it, because she’s bonkers in general) really does need to be underlined… and Rozemyne’s POV is just as important, because sometimes she’s really in over her head. Everyone in this world is a lot more used to death and bloodshed than she is, and the dismay and nausea she feels when seeing stabbing victims is only going to increase as the series goes on.

And then there’s Ferdinand. There is a thing that happens a lot in series, where we have a heroine who is very obviously coded as asexual and everyone loves the fact that we finally have an asexual heroine… until the author ends up hitting the romance switch, at which point the asexuality slowly recedes. Bloom Into You is an obvious example, as is (sorry, anime onlies) The Apothecary Diaries. Bookworm may actually be one of the few to pull that trigger, though, as even though Ferdinand is clearly in love with Rozemyne, and everyone else in the land is horrified and appalled at the shameless way they’re all over each other, Rozemyne keeps emphasizing the fact that Ferdinand is family and of course that’s why she’s overthrowing a country for him. It’s mind-boggling, at least until you see Ferdinand going “welp, OK, in that case let me take all my limiters off” and you remember that he’s just as eccentric, perhaps even more, than she is. Towards the end, Rozemyne whines that Ferdinand never taught her about courtship or love or anything, and her attendants point out that’s because he’s a man, and this is a thing women tell to other women. Alas, Rozemyne was a book gremlin who looked 8 years old and spent years inside a magical cocoon. And now there’s war, and I get the sense it’s probably too late.

There are a number of scenes after the main action, which ends about 2/3 of the way through the book. We get an extended flashback dealing with our main villain, Georgine, who is treated far more sympathetically than Detlinde ever was. You can see why she’s doing this, though it does not extend into sympathy. We also get scenes from other territories showing us how the war is going in their area, meaning we get to see Brigitte again. We get to see Philine and everyone else at the temple and orphanage hunker down in what has essentially become a bomb shelter. We see Effa and the rest of Myne’s family taken to her library to shelter, and get Effa’s conflicted feelings on her birth daughter and how far she’s gone compared to their normal commoner life. And we see Gunther defending the borders, and just generally being a good soldier and dad. Both to his family and his troops. These stories were all very welcome and helped flesh out what is otherwise a “run at full speed” storyline.

The war’s not over yet, and I suspect the next book will show us Sylvester vs. Georgine. You won’t regret reading this. (Well, unless Rozemyne/Ferdinand bothers you, but if that’s the case I assume you dropped this already.)

Ascendance of a Bookworm: I’ll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!, Part 5: Avatar of a Goddess, 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.

Covers always spoil of course, but this one perhaps spoils a bit more than most. That said, we were due. Given that Rozemyne keeps being engaged to various people, as well as the clear “we are each other’s destined forever” relationship she has with Ferdinand, keeping her looking nine years old forever is a non-starter. That said, this is only one of the huge things to happen in this book. The time for set up volumes is done, we’re now ready to fire off all the guns on the wall. Fourth year? What fourth year? Instead we get war, or “true ditter” as the book calls it, with Rozemyne being forced to choose between the life of one man and the fate of the entire kingdom and chooses the one man, because really what has the kingdom ever done for her? And honestly, she has a point. In other news, Letizia manages to pass Hannelore for “most unlucky person in the series”, though that naivete costs her a lot more.

The book starts off relatively normally. Rozemyne is headed back to school for her fourth year, and there’s a lot to do. She has to prepare for the move to the sovereignty, investigate the giant magic circle only she can see above the school, and of course get everyone to pass all their exams and get first in her year again. Sadly, that last one won’t happen, as while praying to the odd statue on the 2nd floor of the library, she is whisked away to meet the Gods. There she gets a book!… forced into her head, with so much knowledge that it’s painful. Worse, it’s not even the entire book – about 30% is with someone else. (Ferdinand. Come on, it’s Ferdinand, we all know.) In addition, after seeing that her “vessel” is far too tiny for all the mana she has, they get the God of Growth to give Rozemyne the body to match her age at last… which, unfortunately, means a lot of PAIN.

She gets back (yes, this is still a summary, it’s that kind of book) to find that the school year has come and gone without her (no first in class for her… heck, she may have to redo the year) and that Georgine’s plans are far more advanced than anyone realized. Everyone prepares to combat Georgine, but Rozemyne is mostly going to leave that to others. Then, um, Ferdinand is poisoned. And is slowly dying. And crying out to Rozemyne via a psychic link (we actually saw this before like 25 books ago, with Myne calling out to Lutz to save her, so kudos there) so that she knows exactly what’s going on. Now they have to go to war IMMEDIATELY, which means they need more manpower. Gosh, if only Rozemyne was best friends with a girl whose father was head of the most war-happy duchy around…

So yeah. It’s a lot. Oddly, despite the poisoning and general dire things going on, the Rozemyne sections are still the light-hearted part, if only as whenever we cut to someone else’s POV it’s much worse. Letizia is totally schnookered into being an attempted murderer, and might be executed, and she also essentially had the corpse of her closest ally thrown at her feet. Meanwhile, Detlinde is 100% OK with a foreign invasion as long as people continue to praise her and kowtow to her, though she perhaps is unaware that it’s all massively phony. (Her attendant isn’t, but sorry attendant, pretty sure you are also going to die by the end of this.) And then there’s Ferdinand, who still expects Rozemyne to have the common sense of this world, and also have an ounce of romance in her body, and she has neither of these things. Consciously, at least. Even if you don’t ship them, you have to feel bad for him.

Next time, TO WAR! Bookmaking will be taking a back seat for a while. Also, this series may end with Rozemyne as the supreme ruler of everyone. Be afraid.