How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 18

By Dojyomaru and Fuyuyuki. Released in Japan as “Genjitsu Shugi Yuusha no Oukoku Saikenki” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

The Realist Hero books have struggled since the start with having to deal with two types of audiences. The first one has been well-served by all of the Machiavelli stuff, the political worldbuilding and military strategy, and they’re really looking forward to the upcoming major war against Fuuga Haan. And then there’s the regular old light novel audience, who are delighted with Souma having eight wives and seemingly everyone in the entire cast of well over 200 people all having weddings. It can be hard to reconcile the first and second groups, especially since the second group does not really want the logical outcome of a war, which is that many named characters who are married with children will die. In an effort to compromise, this book mostly tries to avoid the war, but does feature two minor characters tragically sacrificing themselves. It’s OK, they’re old men and also single. The marriages are safe.

After all the conflicts of the previous books, along with reluctant alliances, there’s no putting it off any longer: Fuuga wants to conquer the world, and Souma is the one standing in his way, so war it is, despite Yuriga’s best attempts to convince him. Of course, Souma is not going to simply roll out there with troops for an old fashioned Mongol Horde battle. He has schemes. Schemes that involve people like that old guy who warned them about the monster from the sea over a dozen books ago, or utilizing Trill and her bonkers impractical ideas that are nevertheless a bit more practical now that it’s a war. Or breaking the faith of the holy church through the power of evangelical broadcasting. That said… can he actually sacrifice people he cares about?

The book is, for the most part, a tense military thriller, where the question is “what’s the big plan that Souma is getting together?”. It’s supposedly something that would stop the reason for the war existing in the first place, or at least stop those following Fuuga. The answer proves to be pretty clever, and utilizes everything we’ve seen in the last couple of books, as well as the initial conflict that Souma was first isekai’d in order to solve. I ha to laugh when I saw Juno and company at the climax – I knew the adventuring party had to be part of the big final battle, but they weren’t in any of the war parties, and honestly don’t seem like the type, so they had to be part of Souma’s solution. He’s hearts-and-minding Fuuga’s army, and it works really well.

How well we’ll have to wait and see. But at least we have an end volume now – the author says 20 will be the last. I’m sure he can marry off one or two more single people by then, and probably not kill off anyone that would make us sad.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 17

By Dojyomaru and Fuyuyuki. Released in Japan as “Genjitsu Shugi Yuusha no Oukoku Saikenki” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

I’m not entirely certain if the author has stated that this series is going to end 2-3 volumes from now, but honestly he doesn’t have to. After reading this book, it’s self-evident that we are in the “endgame” part of Realist Hero. We’re getting answers to things we have wondered since the first volume, even if we didn’t actually know we were wondering them. The Demon Lord’s Domain. What relationship this world has with Souma’s time on Earth. And, of course, how can a character possibly be in this series and still remain single? (Answer: they can’t. I think Trill is maybe the only one still not married, and even then we know it’s just a matter of time.) That said, the main thrust of this book ends up being setting up the next book, because having laid out all the mysteries and answered them, there’s only one thing left to do: big fight between the two world powers. It can’t be put off any longer, alas.

After things settle down following events from the 16th book, everyone is getting married. Souma adds Maria and Yuriga to his wife count. Hakuya marries Jeanne. Mio Carmine marries Colbert. This author has a fetish, and it’s marriages. However, Fuuga Haan wants to take care of one last thing: the Demon Lord’s Domain. And he wants Souma to help him, and is perfectly willing to blackmail him in order to get it. Unfortunately, the Demon Lord’s Domain is ludicrously hard to defeat, and also still relatively unknown, though Ichiha’s data helps there. Also unfortunately, it turns out that one of Souma’s children has inherited the9ir grandmother’s precognition, and has foreseen… Souma’s death!

I can’t really get into the nitty gritty of the book without spoiling its main secrets, but it’s something that has been foreshadowed for some time now. What I can say is that this book showed off better than most of the last few how much time has passed in this world. Because everything happens all at once in these books, it’s sometimes hard to remember that it’s been almost a decade since Souma first was summoned, and that his oldest kids are now six years old. This also means Yuriga is 18 or so, making it at least a bit less creepy for Souma to be marrying her – and it’s also stated that she’s not “consummating” at the moment because she’s concentrating on her career. That said, her career as “the thing trying to hold back her brother from attempting to destroy Souma’s league of nations” is failing hard. Though admittedly there really was very little she could do to stop that. Fuuga is the type who simply has to be waging war on something, and due to the circumstances of this book he is not able to wage it here. That said, I’m pretty sure we know who will be winning the fight between them.

I’m not sure how many book the series has to go, but 20 would not surprise me as an end point. Till then, enjoy the nerdy past history of the Demon Lord’s Domain, which features a surprise Demon Lord that I don’t think any reader was expecting.

Also, it is impossible not to see Maria on the cover of this volume and not start singing “Hello mah baby, hello mah honey, hello mah ragtime gaaaaaal!”

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 16

By Dojyomaru and Fuyuyuki. Released in Japan as “Genjitsu Shugi Yuusha no Oukoku Saikenki” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

The Realist Hero series has occasionally shown us glimpses of the Gran Chaos Empire, but we’ve never really been inside it. And while we’ve seen Maria and Jeanne, for the most part they’ve been minor supporting characters in a series that, especially lately, has been far more concerned with Fuuga’s desire to be Genghis Khan and Souma’s reaction to this. That said, when we have seen Maria several things have become clear: she is very good at what she does, and she hates doing it. Sometimes just because you’re a born leader does not mean that leadership is the thing you actually desire. And lately, especially with the expansion of the other two major territories, her advisors are growing restless, tired of her “wait and see” approach. There has definitely been a sense that when the three powers clashed, the Empire would be the one to fall. That said, I don’t think we quite appreciated just how close to breaking Maria really was till the events of this book, which features what is for all intents and purposes a suicide attempt.

There’s a two-year timeskip near the start of this volume, which I point out only because the book itself is so blase about it you might forget. We also see Kuu’s marriage. After that, though, it’s all business. Fuuga will not be content till he’s conquered the world, and that means he has to take on either Maria or Souma… and frankly Maria is the more obvious choice. He and his people do a good job. They make the right feints. They coerce Maria’s allies into betraying her. They make it worth Souma’s while to stay out of things, even to the point of marrying him off to Yuriga (who is now 18, and yes, that’s probably the main reason for the timeskip). Fuuga even offers Souma the chance to actually rule the world after he conquers it – he has no interest in what comes after “I beat everyone”. That said, Maria is not without a cunning plan or two of her own.

I mention the suicide attempt mostly as it’s in the color pages, which are for once at the front of the volume (J-Novel Club started to put them at the back due to Amazon’s policies about art in the ‘ebook previews’), boldly feature it. It startles the hell out of absolutely everyone, including Souma, who almost panics and ruins their well-crafted plan (which, to be fair, did not have Maria jumping to her death) and Fuuga, for whom this would be the worst possible outcome. He doesn’t need the so-called Saint to be a martyr. As it happens, Maria’s not really sure why she did it either, at least until afterwards back in Souma’s castle when she essentially has a complete emotional breakdown and you realize that she’s been holding everything in for YEARS. Fortunately, thanks to the support of everyone (as well as marrying the man she loves – yes, Souma gets TWO new wives this volume), she can recover and go on to do what she’s really wanted to do all this time – philanthropy. AGGRESSIVE philanthropy.

These books are never going to be quality literature. But, like some of the more famous series out there, the quality of the writing is not as important as the resonance. Realist Hero resonates with its readers really well, which is why we’re still invested in it even after all these volumes. And all these wives.