Ascendance of a Bookworm: I’ll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!, Part 3: Adopted Daughter of an Archduke, Vol. 2

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 digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by quof.

Let’s face it, Rozemyne has done a lot for the world she now lives in. From all of her printing achievements, which have the potential to change the world as everyone knows it, to even such things as shampoo, the footprint of Myne/Rozemyne is everywhere. However, there is a limit to what she can achieve. Ehrenfest is not going to slowly become modern-day Earth. What’s more, there is a disconnect between a) the way nobles think, b) the way Rozemyne thinks as a commoner who was raised into the nobility; c) the way Urano thinks as a former modern-day Japanese woman who’s been reincarnated with her memories; and d) Rozemyne’s natural eccentricity. As such, sometimes she doesn’t get how other people think, and other people assume that she is familiar with things that she absolutely is not. This becomes a big problem in this book, where Rozemyne taking some abused orphans from a local mayor turns out to have many, many repercussions.

Of course, Rozemyne has an additional problem that she has to deal with, which is that Ferdinand is not only assuming that she gets all the nuances and subtleties with which he speaks, but is also, in his own way, as eccentric as Rozemyne. He is the definition of “it would be easier if I just did everything myself”, and the fact that he can only makes life harder, especially as Rozemyne also falls into that category a lot. This leads to her having a near emotional breakdown when he tells her to solve the problem that she’s gotten herself into, implying that the entire TOWN has to die because of her actions. While Benno and the others are able to help Rozemyne flip the problem on its head (don’t think about how to kill the mayor, think about how to save everyone who is NOT the Mayor), Rosemyne and the reader are left with the harsh reality of a world that does not run on modern-day ethics and morals.

Fortunately, the rest of the book is not as serious as this. There’s a cool action scene as Rozemyne goes to the forest to get ingredients for the potion that will help her Devouring and the forest is overrun by monsters. More importantly, Wilfried once again whines about how easy Rozemyne has it, and she proposes changing roles for one day. This serves as a massive splash of cold water to the face of everyone involved with Wilfried, especially his father, who had been spoiling him without realizing that that had led to a young man who could not read, write, play any instruments, etc. There is some blistering dialogue here about how to educate young people, particularly those with short attention spans. It also shows off Sylvester as a very imperfect Archduke – he’s not a happy camper here, especially when his wife hears about this. Fortunately, Wilfried DOES have a good memory when he bothers to use it, so all is not lost.

There’s not as much of what made Bookworm tick in the early volumes – Benno and Lutz are here, but in supporting roles, and papermaking/bookmaking is also a side project compared to everything else. But it’s the expansion of Rozemyne’s world, and the fact that this world can be terrifying, that makes this arc of Bookworm the best yet.

Ascendance of a Bookworm: I’ll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!, Part 3: Adopted Daughter of an Archduke, Vol. 1

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 digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by quof.

I was expecting great changes with this volume. When last we saw Rozemyne, she had had her past altered to make her the daughter of a noble, was then secretly adopted by another noble (who was also the archduke), and was getting ready to move to the noble part of town… while also maintaining her businesses, finding ways to employ the temple’s orphans, and assuming the role of high bishop. Some of the things that I was expecting did actually happen. Rozemyne had a bit of culture shock when she came across noble attitudes, and they in turn were unprepared for both Rozemyne’s health and her ways of thinking. She would start her high bishop duties and give lots of blessings, which would stun those who witnessed it both because of her age and then because of her ridiculous amounts of magic. What I did not expect, and this is totally a failure on my part, was Rozemyne organizing an idol concert.

Actually, there was a lot that did NOT happen in this book, which seems to want to give Rozemyne an easier time of it than the previous books. After the terrifying battle that ended book 7, this seems sedate by comparison. Rozemyne has to get used to her new family, including winning over Elvira, who is her new mother now… and it goes quite well, mostly as Elvira is a Ferdinand fanboy and will happily do anything he says, but also as Ferdinand has been grooming Myne this entire time to prepare her for her role as Rozemyne. (I will admit the grooming does worry me a bit. Given that Books 22 and 23 still show Rozemyne as a child, I don’t think romance is in the cards here, but it is suggested once or twice that Ferdinand and Rozemyne should be a couple, and please, no.) Ferdinand is even prepared for Sylvester’s spoiled son to not “get” that Rozemyne can’t run around, and has a solution – let her almost die in front of the boy.

Then there is the concert. I must admit, given what I’ve been writing about him in this review, I did feel Ferdinand sort of deserved what happened to him. That said, it’s also a terrific way to show that Rozemyne is not done coming up with innovative ideas just because she is now a noble. Her old ideas are also still going strong, of course, and I appreciated that Benno, Lutz, etc. did not simply vanish. (Myne’s old family appear slightly less, but they are also there, especially Tulli, who gets to learn manners from a most welcome tutor.) But Rozemyne needs money, and the idol concert was the best way to do it. I really enjoyed how she was able to spot, based on the reactions of the noble ladies to Ferdinand, that there would need to be attendants on hand for when they fainted. And the special final guest was also hilarious.

So far so good, then, but I expect trouble has not abandoned Rozemyne completely. In any case, if you enjoy books at all, light novels or no, this is a series that you should be reading.

Ascendance of a Bookworm: I’ll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!, Part 2: Apprentice Shrine Maiden, Vol. 4

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 digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by quof.

(This review contains more spoilers than usual. I’ll try to keep the big ones to after the cover art.)

To my annoyance, the book starts off with a scene between the villains, each trying to prove that among the sneering evil bastards, they are the MOST sneering evil bastards. To my relief, it’s all uphill from there – as always, Bookworm’s books are long but they feel like they’re too short. Myne is trying to get her kid’s picture books off the ground, which involves experimenting with colored ink as well as getting new wax for their stencils. the second quarter of the book has a lot of the arts and crafts we’ve come to love from this series. (It also has the author, in probably the funniest part of the book, write in “Myne and Lutz as an adult married couple” and have it be DEAD ON.) Unfortunately, right at the start of the book an abandoned baby arrives at the orphanage, and Myne, trying to convince a reluctant Delia to care for it with the others, makes a big deal of Delia being the child’s big sister. This sets off a terrifying change of events that will shake up the lives of everyone – and result in a major fatality.

Though we’re not quite going to be leaving the temple yet, I suspect this may be the last we see of Delia as a major character. I had wondered if Myne would ever manage to win her over to betraying the high bishop, and sadly the answer is “not really”, though this isn’t helped by everyone keeping secrets from Delia because… well, she’s a spy. At least she avoids execution. Indeed, this book is filled with executions and threats of executions galore, and it’s a reminder of just how dark this world can be when it’s not about “hey, let’s make paper!”, and when the archduke is pondering whether it would be easier to simply have Myne’s family executed, you get the chills. Fortunately, Myne has her fingers in too many pies to make this really feasible, especially given that her printing press is the proverbial genie that cannot be put back in the bottle. No, instead of everyone around Myne getting executed, the simplest thing is for Myne to die.

And so we end this arc, with Myne dead. Fortunately, we have a new heroine in Rozemyne, who is the hidden daughter of a noble adopted by the archduke, and who happens to look, talk and act just like… OK, yes, Rozemyne is Myne, something most people are immediately made aware of. But the cover story is very important, and the scene where Myne has to say goodbye to her family as a family is heartbreaking. We know they’ll meet again (if anything else, I’ve seen Tulli on a few book covers coming up), but it’s not the same. Indeed, the cover story is magical, to the point where even Myne’s magical contracts change names. As for the Archduke himself… well, I admit, I didn’t see the reveal coming, though others may disagree. Certainly he helps to rescue Myne in the nick of time from a hideous fate. We’ll see how the double act holds up in the next arc. (The book proper ends about 2/3 in, and we get some very good post-Myne short stories, including some subtleties in regards to the High Priest’s aide, and how his seething cauldron of anger is not as secret as he’d like.)

The next arc is titled ‘Adopted Daughter of an Archduke’, and as such I expect a lot of noble life, probably some bullying – Rozemyne will likely find it hard. That said, she’s now in a majorly important position, the daughter of the MOST important man, and as we saw here, has enough mana in her to whip up a prayer to 5 or 6 gods, all at once, and have it work fine. No need to worry, even if Myne has left us, Rozemyne should be just fine. This was an excellent volume in the series, despite the “I am eviler than the most evil person!” villains.