Private Tutor to the Duke’s Daughter: Saving the Kingdom Over Summer Break with Ladies of Ice and Fire

By Riku Nanano and cura. Released in Japan as “Koujo Denka no Kateikyoushi” by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by William Varteresian.

I appreciate that the author, in the afterword to this volume, acknowledges the main issue with this as a modern “harem” genre series, which is that Lydia is such an obvious winner that it’s irrelevant to read about the others. The only other one with any chance at all is Tina, and that’s because she’s in the title. That said, I don’t think that “write Lydia out of the story for a while” is really going to help much, mostly as I’m pretty sure Lydia is simply not going to ALLOW herself to be written out for any length of time. This volume does wrap up one plotline while continuing another, and it’s looking very likely that impending civil war might be a good reason to stop having cute harem antics… or it would if this series didn’t run on harem antics half the time. You need to balance your cool battles and attempted murders with headpats and snuggles, after all.

Exams are finished, and the girls have finished terrorizing their teachers with their raw power. Tina and Lynne are the top scorers, but Ellie wins Allen’s challenge as she improved the most. Now everyone is off to Allen’s home, where he has to finally confess to his parents that he failed his Court Sorcerer exam. Now, given that he only failed because the examiner insulted his parents, I think they understand. His parents are exactly as you’d expect. Lydia not so much, as she spends much of this book in “prim and proper” mode, to the horror of everyone else but Allen. Unfortunately, capturing that rogue Prince has not gone as well as hoped. Worse, they’ve finally finished decoding the book Allen gave them, and it’s clear there’s multiple great spells involved. A big fight is needed.

The main draw and also main flaw of this series is that most of the really amazing stuff I want to read about happened already, and we only hear about it tangentially. Allen and Lydia’s school days, whatever tragedy befell them in Allen’s hometown, etc… these are dangled in front of us and then whisked away, to be replaced with scenes of who gets to be the one to sit next to Allen at the table that meal. The harem is somewhat unbalanced, as noted above, but not just because Lydia is so obvious. The other girls simply act far too young to really be thought of as competitors. They’re all little sisters, not romantic partners. This does make things awkward in the final battle, as it’s one of those series where a kiss-powerup is sometimes needed, and Allen gets one from both Tina and Lydia. Tina’s is very “I’m sorry about this”, Lydia is the aggressor, and loves it. Also, it’s nice to see Allen struggle in a battle and get seriously injured. He’s seemed a bit too impervious lately.

So, the next book promises no Lydia. And apparently no Tina, Ellie, or Lynne as well. That leaves the actual little sister, so I’m not sure how much hareming we will get – I expect more of the “the kingdom is in danger” plotline. Till then, still enjoying this harem fantasy series, despite its awkward harem.

Private Tutor to the Duke’s Daughter: Guiding a Lost Saint with a Magical Revolution

By Riku Nanano and cura. Released in Japan as “Koujo Denka no Kateikyoushi” by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by William Varteresian.

It can be difficult to know when to step in. You see your friend is having issues and struggling. You want to help them. But they insist that they’re fine and they can handle it. You want to trust them… but then it’s too late and they’ve started to break. And you’ve got to play catch up. That’s basically what we see here, as Stella, whose lack of self-confidence was forecast in the previous volume, completely implodes in this one, running away from the school and collapsing in self-loathing. It’s not hard to see why – she’s surrounded by once-in-a-lifetime prodigies, and even her one other normal friend is now leaving the school for a cushy management job. Meanwhile, Stella works hard… but in series like these, hard work does not necessarily mean success. Allen knows how she feels… and honestly suffers from many of the same issues, though he hides it better. Can he help her recover?

This series continues to build on previous volumes nicely. They’re still trying to decode the encrypted diary, and have managed to work out all the love love romance entries, but not the ones that are actually relevant to them. We get to know Allen’s hapless friend Gil, who is involved in a battle for the Dukedom that he really doesn’t want. We also meet Gil’s bodyguard, who I have a sneaking suspicion will either be dying or needing to be rescued soon. Being unable to say anything because of magical contracts never works well. And of course we have people underestimating Allen… not least of whom is Allen himself. He regards the fact that he’s not a noble as an insurmountable mountain that he can’t cross, and that seems to be the main reason why he’s so cool with Lydia, who clearly is ready to marry him at the drop of a hat otherwise.

Allen’s a good teacher as well, which comes as a horrific surprise the the rather conservative teachers of the school, who find that the students who took his classes are already leagues ahead of what they should be learning. I really liked that he framed the big battle with Stella vs. Caren, Ellie and Tina as a learning experience, and we see how everyone – including Stella – has become just that much stronger afterwards. Of course, it’s not all training, as he also gets the chance to take Stella out for a date, which amuses him as the entire town is clearly enchanted with her and she notices this not at all. The subplot with Felicia was also good, though it did have a bit of the “let’s mention her breasts as often as possible” crap that comes with so many other light novels. She seems to have a good head on her shoulders – and she’s also joined the Allen harem.

I know there are folks who are annoyed at the harem aspect of this, given that Lydia and Allen clearly have a “inevitable” thing going on, but I doubt it’s going away anytime soon. This is quite a fun little series regardless.

Private Tutor to the Duke’s Daughter: Creating a New Legend with the Unbeatable Lady of the Sword

By Riku Nanano and cura. Released in Japan as “Koujo Denka no Kateikyoushi” by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by William Varteresian.

This book does not particularly advance much of the plot we saw in the first volume, and in fact reads a bit like “oh crap now it’s a series what do I do”, but I don’t think I care because this was so much fun to read. Apologies to the titular duke’s daughter, Tina, but Lydia is a delightful ball of tsundere cliches. We only saw a bit of her in the first book, but here she’s in full flower, bullying Allen, attacking him, defending him, beating nobles to death for him, and generally doing everything except saying “I-it’s not like I did it for you or anything!”. Wait, no, she does that too. Tina and Ellie, joined by Lydia’s little sister Lynne, are clearly infatuated with Allen, but they’re starting from so far back in the race that it’s kind of sad. And yes, I realize that a series like this is setting itself up to have Tina as the winning girl, but I’m not sure, at this point, how that is going to happen.

Allen is faced with a bit of a dilemma this volume. Lydia is having her ceremony to welcome her as a royal sorcerer at the same time that Tina and Ellie are having THEIR opening ceremony at the academy. There’s really no good way out of that (get used to me saying that about Allen and his romantic dilemmas), but he chooses the academy. There we meet his younger sister Caren, who only has a bit of a brother complex, and Tina’s older sister Stella, who has spent years proving her family wrong and making a name for herself at school only to have Tina waltz in and be better at everything. I expect her to snap and turn evil in Book 3 or 4. Unfortunately for Allen, without him at Lydia’s side, her investiture has gone to hell in a handbasket. the second prince, who is the reason why Allen is not also a royal sorcerer, has returned to claim what he feels is his, and… yikes.

Lydia may spend most of this book rather angry, as fits her character type, but it’s not without cause. The second prince is a cartoon villain, the sort of arrogant snot that has a face made for punching. Indeed, one of the climactic battles has as its main difficulty NOT killing him, as a living prince who can answer for starting it all in the first place is vastly preferable to a dead prince who will just lead to exile form the kingdom. But Lydia also has more important things to worry about. Allen seems far too close to Tina, as well as her sister, and let’s not leave out dark horse Ellie, who gets more head rubs than anyone else. Hell, even Lydia’s MOTHER is hitting on him constantly. Fortunately, Allen may still have the sexuality of a bowl of cold oatmeal, but even he knows that Lydia is in love with him. He’s just ignoring that.

Allen’s headspace may make this book too annoying for harem fans (who will also dislike Lydia’s cliched tsundere ways), but I find it equally hilarious. And we even get the standard head maid/assassin/spy” type here. Despite the presence of multiple 13-year-olds hitting on our hero, this series is simply hella fun.