Der Werwolf: The Annals of Veight, Vol. 11

By Hyougetsu and Nishi(E)da. Released in Japan by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Ningen.

The last couple of books have been trying to explain why Veight is as successful and beloved as he is, and that it’s not simply “he is an incredibly strong and powerful werewolf”. As Veight notes in this volume, he could immediately solve the problem in the kingdom of Kuwol if he simply killed Zagar. He’d be justified in doing so. Zagar killed the king and framed Veight for it. But doing that would plunge the country into chaos, which is absolutely not what Veight wants. Zagar is certainly strong, and can kill anyone who is suddenly no longer useful to him. But all he wants is combat, which means he’ll never be satisfied. Veight, on the other hand, has spent the last ten books making the kingdom safe for both humans and other races, and all he wants to do is settle down with his wife and child. He investigates thoroughly. He takes the opinions of commoners into advisement, but also thinks of the nobles and their pride. He’s just really good at this.

No, don’t worry, that’s not Veight’s unborn child on the cover, but the late king’s, who it turned out had a favorite consort. This volume picks up where the last left off, as Veight tries to figure out how best to unite the nobles, stop Zagar, and not have everything explore into war. He’s helped by the return of Parker, who may have gone missing but was never really in danger, and who is perhaps at his least silly in this book. With the help of a mountain tribe and a cleverly placed fake… as well as, admittedly, the power of modern laser guns… Veight is able to win the day. This allows him to hurry home, as he’s gotten an unfortunate prophecy about Airia, who it turns out needs to have a cesarean section (completely unknown in this world) or else the touch of death may strike her and their child. Can Veight and company save the day? And will the prophecy come true anyway?

This is not the final book in the series – J-Novel Club has licensed at least through Vol. 13, and the rights to the novels were just sold to Square Enix, who will be releasing more. But it’s the end of the “main story”, and the author says that the rest of the books are essentially going to be side stories. (They’re even changing the illustrator to reflect the books “lighter feel” starting next time.) Certainly this seems like the “end of one age, stat of a new one” sort of book, especially with the last few pages of the main story showing off Veight and Airia’s child as well as the return (sort of) of a very old friend. This is why Veight is not Zagar. Zagar cannot be satisfied unless he’s fighting an enemy. Veight, though, once he’s managed to protect what he wants to, and helped others to thrive as a nation… he’s ready to relax and be a husband and father. In fact, he looks forward to it. Well, and a simple vice-commander, of course. He’ll always be that.

I have perhaps enjoyed this series a bit more than it really deserves (it might be the medium – J-NC has licensed the manga and I find it near unreadable), but I do think it rewards readers who like this kind of thing. I look forward to a more relaxed tale going forward.

Der Werwolf: The Annals of Veight, Vol. 10

By Hyougetsu and Nishi(E)da. Released in Japan by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Ningen.

Now that Veight has pretty much succeeded in uniting the continent, and Airia is settling in as the new Demon Lord (and also getting pregnant, which answers that whole ‘can werewolves and humans mate?’ question from the last book), the book have been branching out into other unrelated countries, showing how they really need Veight to come in and shake things up. His trip to Wa was fairly straightforward and normal, despite the past life shenanigans, but this time things are a lot more difficult, and Veight is going to be forced to take action despite wanting nothing more than to stay by Airia’s side. Oh yes, and teach young students how to be a good leader. In fact, this book may be outdoing Realist Hero on the subject of running a country, and it also does not need to venerate Machiavelli, which is always a plus. Most of all, though, we get a really nasty and horrible villain here, something we haven’t seen in these books for a while.

Kuwol, a southern kingdom with lots of sea transport, is getting close to a civil war between two varieties of nobility and a rather shallow and brainless king. Veight is trying his best to stay out of it, knowing that they don’t have the ships to send a huge army and also don’t want to get involved in foreign affairs, but as things go further south, and Parker goes missing, he is forced to act. What he finds is that one of the groups of nobles has hired mercenaries to supplement their forces, led by Zagar, who is a thoroughly reprehensible man who nevertheless commands intense loyalty from those at his command. Veight doesn’t trust him, but is not particularly a violent man, so is content to wait and watch and try to make things better for the civilians caught in the war. Unfortunately, this proves unwise as Zagar has grander plans than a simple civil war.

The main plot is pretty much what you’d expect, and the author says in the afterword he wanted to show Veight’s hands-off approach being the wrong choice. That said, there are lots of little details in this book I liked. Seeing Veight’s young students trying to come up with forward thinking ideas. Airia’s absolutely awful morning sickness, and Veight feeling somewhat helpless to do anything for her. There’s a moment near the end when Zagar offers Veight three of the former lord’s mistresses for pleasure, and Veight, naturally, is uninterested in anything but Airia. However, Zagar is determined to second the women to Veight’s company (are they spies?) and so asks if they can be secretaries, and they promptly show off a savviness that I quite liked. That said, the brutality of the final scenes is start, and we’re left with a cliffhanger that makes us wonder how Veight is going to handle things without the whole nation falling apart.

The next book is supposed to be the last book in the “main series”, though I know there’s at least one after it. I suppose peace and prosperity are harder to write about, which is probably why Veight is traveling to a civil war. In the meantime, Der Werwolf remains very underrated, and has a minimum of Veight being super modest this time around.

Der Werwolf: The Annals of Veight, Vol. 9

By Hyougetsu and Nishi(E)da. Released in Japan by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Ningen.

While we’ve had a lot of fun watching Veight do a lot of really cool things while claiming to be just a humble vice-commander (and we get that here as well, to the point where he uses it as a tag line, Bruce Willis style), there has been a certain “harem manga” element to the title since it began. There were already a couple of his werewolf subordinates in love with him, we know that Eleora also fell for him, etc. That said, there’s really been no doubt since the series began that if Veight was going to finally clue in to romance, it would be Airia that is the choice. The main problem is that, due to her job and Veight having to save the nation so much, she’s gotten very little to do in the books. As a result, this book not only had to sell the romance finally starting but also remove the power imbalance between the two. In succeeds quite well, provided you don’t mind ridiculously overpowered hero and heroines. Which, hi, light novels?

As you can see by the cover, the book is not exactly concealing what it’s about this time. One of the fleeing senators from the north hid in a mine and then died with a hideously powerful magical artifact in his hands. Now Veight and the Southern Continent have to deal with a massive attack of undead skeletons. Unfortunately, the artifact is sentient, looking for its next occupant, and decides that Airia fits the bill. Can Veight figure out that she’s no longer who she seems to be in time to stop its plan? Does he actually want to stop the artifact’s plan? And will all of this finally manage to get it through his thick skull that he loves Airia and she loves him? (The last, trust me, will be the most difficult. Everyone breathes a huge sign of relief when Veight finally confesses.)

As you can guess from my synopsis, the romance here is not really a big surprise to anyone. There’s a ‘mindscape’ scene, a mutual confession, and a wedding. (We don’t see the wedding night – this series is as pure as its leads – but there is discussion on whether a werewolf can get a human pregnant.) The bigger surprise is the way that the artifact’s plot to bring a hero into this world forcibly is taken care of. Veight’s solution makes sense, but is also something only he could come up with. (Veight’s past does come up here, and he actually admits to Airia he’s a reincarnation from another world, but we still know next to nothing about it – by design, the author admits). It also allows Airia to take a much stronger role in the series… though I admit I’m doubtful that actually happens. I suspect we’ll still mostly be seeing Veight traveling.

So overall an excellent volume, with lots of awesome, lots of heartwarming, and a bit of fanservice (Airia’s large breasts feature heavily in much of the art). Fans who enjoy this series should find much to love. Now, the question is where it goes from here.