The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt (Hey, How About Treason?), Vol. 11

By Toru Taba and Falmaro. Released in Japan as “Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saisei Jutsu ~Sou da, Baikoku Shiyou~” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jessica Lange.

We’ve always had the backstory of “the college years” simmering through this series, even if we’ve never had an entire book dedicated to it. We get the odd flashback, such as in this volume. First there was Wein and Ninym. Then, gradually, they added Strang, Glen, and Lowellmina. And the five of them pretty much shook the world as a team. Now each of them is deeply caught up in political intrigue as an adult. Wein and Ninym theoretically have it easier. They’re not from the Empire. They don’t have to participate in this throne war the way the other three do. But of course they really do, and in fact Wein and Ninym have been dragged into it since it began. It’s a proxy war. A war to se which of the five is truly the best, the top strategist, leader, and person. Wein is, frankly, looking down from on top of the pile. He’s the protagonist. But this book suggests it may not last forever.

The battle for the Empire has been going on since the start of the series, and it’s finally reaching its climax. Each of the three candidates for Emperor are making their moves. Lowellmina is dealing with assassination attempts, Strang is trying to show Wein that standing back and doing nothing is going to do nothing but drag his own nation into a war, and Glen is just trying to do his best as a soldier while his boss runs amuck with the largest army. There’s Levetia, which is secretly backing one of the princes basically for the lulz. There’s Eastern Levetia, which just want to have a nice word with Prince Wein but get dragged into the conflict anyway. There’s Falanya, who is cognizant that forces are trying to overthrow her brother and put her in power, but is not sure she wants it. And there’s the Flahm, who are desperate for a beacon of hope to guide them, and may end up being the final stake in Wein’s heart before all this is over.

I admit I was faked out a bit by the author. When Strang asks Ninym if she’s ever wanted to go up against Wein, it feels like a big moment, one that will pay off with her willing betrayal. But that reckons without the fact that she and Wein are joined at the hip, as well as in (unspoken) love, and while it is an intriguing idea (we have not gotten nearly enough of Ninym as a strategist on her own in this series, as opposed to Wein’s sounding board), it’s not something she can do of her own volition. That’s why the cliffhanger for the book is so important. This is the sort of thing that could break the two apart permanently, and I don’t think either of them could stand that. This series is too lighthearted to end by killing off its two leads, but, as I’ve said since the start, I would not be surprised if it ends with Wein “winning” by heading off with Ninym to some quiet place where he can not be a ruler.

The 12th book isn’t scheduled yet, so I’m not sure when we’ll see what happens next. At least the giant throne war is over. For now.

The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt (Hey, How About Treason?), Vol. 10

By Toru Taba and Falmaro. Released in Japan as “Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saisei Jutsu ~Sou da, Baikoku Shiyou~” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jessica Lange.

As the series hits double digits, it’s pretty clear that it’s at least sauntering towards a conclusion. Wein is closer than ever to becoming the King, but (see premise of the series) he really does not want this, and would much rather leave things to the little sister who’s been growing by leaps and bounds over the course of the book and just run off somewhere with Ninym to do all the things he could not do with Ninym when he was heir to the throne. Of course, what’s stopping him is the rest of the plot. For one thing, he’s made such a name for himself that people are not yet taking Falanya seriously, though I expect that will change in a big way after this book. For another, there are too many people whose ongoing plans really need Wein to be around and also as clever as he normally is. Lowellmina is the obvious one, but the Church has an eye on him too… or rather, on Ninym, by his side.

After events in the last book, Wein’s country, or more accurately the vassals in his country, really want him to stay home. Unfortunately, Delunio is holding a big event to celebrate their alliance with Soljest and Natra, and have asked Wein to attend. He’s not going to, but he can send Falanya… despite the fact that the disgraced prime minister of Delunio is now Falanya’s adviser. Of course, this does not mean that Wein gets to sit around either, as there’s a more serious crisis in the Empire. Lowellmina has too much power now, so her brothers have come up with a clever scheme: fight each other, let the casualties pile up, and then tarnish Lowellmina’s name because she, the peace loving princess, did not intervene. She wants Wein’s help. And as if this weren’t enough, in Soljest… Gruyere has been overthrown?!

The fun of this series is the fact that not just the main characters, but EVERY character seems to have one main scheme and seven backup schemes all going at the same time. The best scene in the book features a most unlikely pairing, Gruyere and Nanaki, but of course the main thing to talk about here is Falanya. She’s finally gotten to the point where Wein does not have to worry about her when she’s trapped in a dangerous political hothouse, and while she does need his help near the end, 80% of the victory in this book is down to her own clever scheming. There’s a reason that Sirgis has decided to make it his goal to have her become ruler rather than Wein, though I’m not sure I buy his “he doesn’t care about the people of the country” – if that were the case, Wein could have schemed himself out of this a while ago. But it definitely feels like we’re headed for a sibling throne war, which is good, as Natra has experience with that.

So very glad to have this back, and I am pleased that it won’t take as long for the 11th book to come out here. Recommended for political intrigue fans.

The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt (Hey, How About Treason?), Vol. 9

By Toru Taba and Falmaro. Released in Japan as “Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saisei Jutsu ~Sou da, Baikoku Shiyou~” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jessica Lange.

As we’ve now gone through about nine volumes of this series, it’s good to remember that the initial premise was that Wein was trying various ways to abdicate his responsibilities, and failing for the most part because a) he’s too good at his job, and b) he won’t do it if it means the people of Natra suffer. For the last few books, that’s mostly been forgotten, to the point where the title almost seems archaic. But this book reminds us that yes, Wein really does not want to be running his country, and he is still trying to take steps to avoid being the ruler. Fortunately for Wein, he has an adorable little sister with even more charisma than he has who sucks up knowledge like a sponge. The most interesting scenes in the book are when he asks Falanya is he really is “good” to the Flahm, and if so, how? Getting her to stop hero-worshipping him is a good first step.

Wein and Ninym are on their way to Ulbeth, a nation divided into four regions: Muldu, Altie, Roynock, and Facrita. In theory they all are distinct areas with their own distinct rulers but united as an alliance. In practice, they all hate each other. Wein has been invited by Muldu’s representative, Agata, a Holy Elite who wants Wein’s help to undermine the other nations. Of course, Wein is not about to do this out of the goodness of its heart, but (as with most books in the series) complications suddenly turn up. Who’s going to win this mini-throne war? Can everything be solved by simply marrying as many couples as possible? And, most importantly, if something happens to Ninym, has Wein matured enough as a person not to simply kill every single person in the nation?

Slavery, as a concept, is so prevalent in light novels that it has become one of the worst cliches, and Genius Prince has been no exception. The Flahm have been presented in the story to date as an oppressed and hated group, and even in Natra, which supports them to an extent, Wein and Ninym have to merely be content to be ruler and aide and nothing more. The backstory of the Flahm has been teased in previous books, but here we get (secondhand) most of the story. I’ll be honest, it’s handled a bit better than other stories of its ilk, but still makes me a bit uncomfortable. On the up side, spoiling the previous paragraph a bit, we’re now seeing Wein be big enough to have someone kidnap Ninym and NOT destroy them completely. Alas, poor Ninym for once is the damsel in distress – her pulling a Wein and bewailing it at the end is hilarious.

I have a sneaking suspicion this series will end with Falanya on the throne and Wein and Ninym running off somewhere together, but we’re not there yet. Till then, this is a solid volume.