Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire, Vol. 10

By Hayaken and Nagu. Released in Japan as “Eiyu-oh, Bu wo Kiwameru tame Tensei su. Soshite, Sekai Saikyou no Minarai Kisi ♀” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Mike Langwiser.

This is a big old sucker punch of a book, telling you that straight off the bat. And this is clearly deliberate by the author. The first half or so has us following Inglis and company to meet with the Highland’s leader, so that they can try to get Eris repaired, as well as see whether anything can be done about Rin. And despite the island, erm, falling out of the sky onto the oceans, which is surely not an ominous sign, they have a good time. Then the second half of the book hits, and you are reminded of the earlier volumes in this series, which shows the Highland folks to be horrible monsters. That’s still mostly accurate, it has to be said, though a cliffhanger shows there may be even more inner strife than expected. All of this seems designed to build character – for everyone except Inglis, of course. She doesn’t need character development. She just has to hit things.

For those of you full of hope, I have to make you sad: that cover is an utter lie. Inglis stays in her six-year-old body for the entire book. There *is* a beach scene, and we get Inglis wishing they could do it again when she’s back to normal so that she could get a gorgeous swimsuit, but it doesn’t actually happen. That said, the other three girls are attractive, and everyone is being given the deluxe tour. Leone gets an upgrade to her rune, which is now a Special Rune, which I hope does not turn out to be something she regrets later on. As for Liselotte, she apparently has such amazing compatibility with hieral menaces that they offer to make her one. She declines. As for Eris… well, she’s basically the equivalent of a Type-40 TARDIS in a world of far sleeker and more powerful machines. But it’s OK, the totally trustworthy Highland folks will fix her.

I’m gonna spoil a couple of things here, so stop now if you haven’t read it yet. Good book, will read more, but very much a book of two halves. The second half begins when a merchant ship arrives with a princess from Venefic, who is being delivered to Highland to be a hieral menace, but is far more concerned about all her followers, who were also taken up in the ship. So Inglis and the others go to try to rescue them. Yeah. No. Instead we find that most of what makes the Highland Nation go is the equivalent of Soylent Green, as humans are being taken and essentially ground up into pure mana. I actually went “Urgh” out loud. Speaking of hieral menaces, there’s a reason Liselotte has such a good affinity, and it’s not a good one – the hieral menace sent by the pope seems awfully familiar… in fact, she looks just like an older Liselotte. And has the same name as her late mother. Nothing is confirmed, but come on. This also throws everyone off their game.

Honestly, the star of the book may be Rafinha, who suffers more than the others as she tends to see things in terms of black and white, and is finding that in a situation where all the solutions are bad, nothing makes her happy. She can’t even count on Inglis here, as Inglis does not really care even if everything goes to hell as long as she gets fights. Rafinha wants peace. Possibly she’ll get it in the next book, but I highly doubt it.

Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire, Vol. 9

By Hayaken and Nagu. Released in Japan as “Eiyu-oh, Bu wo Kiwameru tame Tensei su. Soshite, Sekai Saikyou no Minarai Kisi ♀” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Mike Langwiser.

Sometimes I tend to dramatically overthink things. This even applies when I’m reading a series like Reborn to Master the Blade, where I know that the main motivation behind the author writing it is “have fun and cool fights”. So when Inglis had her body aged down that of a six-year-old early in the book, I started to theorize about what would necessitate this change in the book. Was it related to the engagements that Inglis and Rafinha are apparently going to face at the start of this volume? No, that’s not it. Is it to make Inglis less powerful so that she actually loses a fight and ends up learning an important lesson? Hardly, though there is one fight here where the records a draw. Then, by the end of the book, I began to realize the real reason: it’s because the author thinks that a 6-year-old Inglis is cute as a button, and wants more art of her than the first volume could provide. Fair enough.

Inglis and Rafinha return home to find that they have a bevy of suitors now, both being hot commodities. They both write to the royal palace to ask them to stop this; Rafinha because she only wants Inglis to marry Rafael, and Inglis because she doesn’t want Rafinha to marry ANYBODY. Before any suitors arrive, though, an experiment Inglis is trying goes wrong and now she and Rafinha are back in their six-year-old bodies! And bad timing there, as there is a Highlander who has heard about Inglis and is there to have a really good fight. He’s basically Inglis as a man, and the fight the two have is indeed epic, and takes up a big chunk of the book. Unfortunately, Inglis was using Eris as a weapon during the fight, and Eris got a little broken, so to fix her, they’re going to need to… well, need to wait till the next book, but the back half of this sets us up for that.

Not gonna lie, for all that he is a walking cliche, Jildegrieva was easily the best part of the book, finally giving Inglis the fight that she’s wanted since the series began – a fight that, admittedly, ends in a draw, but she is in a much smaller body now. Other than that, though, the other main plot of this book is basically introducing zombies to the story, and showing that someone is making it so dead assassins become zombies. This leads to mental trauma in some cases (Leone) and showing off to family in others (Lieselotte). But, as with Inglis becoming a child or Eris getting damaged/injured, it’s a plot point that is not going to be resolved this book. As a result, like a lot of books in this series, how much you enjoy it depends how much you like straight up fighting.

We’ve also caught up with Japan, so that next volume that explains everything may be a while. Ah well. Inglis is pretty cute as a kid (and there is thankfully a minimal amount of lolicon shtick that comes with it).

Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire, Vol. 8

By Hayaken and Nagu. Released in Japan as “Eiyu-oh, Bu wo Kiwameru tame Tensei su. Soshite, Sekai Saikyou no Minarai Kisi ♀” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Mike Langwiser.

Reborn to Master the Blade is not, I think, a series that’s really trying to do much beyond having fun and writing a lot of Inglis fighting. The author admits in the afterword that they really don’t have much of an idea of where to go next, so there’s not really an end goal in mind. Sometimes this is a good thing. We’re here to see Inglis fight things, and the back half of this book is all that, showing us Inglis coming as close as she’s ever come to actually getting killed, and actually (gasp!) needing the help of other people once or twice in order to fend off the biggest Prismer yet. On the down side, Inglis does not show up until 100 pages into this book, and as I said last time, without Inglis this book is just spinning its wheels. I’m sorry, supporting cast, you are not quite interesting enough on your own.

The front half of the book features Lahti facing off against his brother, Windsel, with the winner likely becoming the next King. Windsel has several demands, which seem at least vaguely acceptable, but the last one, “let us execute Pullum”, is a no go, so they’ve got to do battle. This allows everyone to whip out their new special moves, which range from unsurprising (Leone, Liselotte) to very surprising (Lahti). After this, we cut back to the Prismer, and though Rafael, Rafinha and Yua try their best, it’s going to come down to Inglis in the end, when she eventually gets there, which is (of course) right when all hope is lost. That said, can she really have enough power to stop it? And, more importantly, can everyone stop her trying to heal it up so that she can fight it even more equally?

This is essentially a series written for guys, but it features a whole lot of kickass women with either swords, magic, or both. As a result, it tries hard to attempt to push back on “why are women fighting, they are too fragile, the man should be protecting them” and actually embracing that, mostly because “a guy has to protect his younger sister” is a stronger cliche than “women can fight as well as men” in the author’s mind. It’s a bit disappointed, but hey, at least Leon and Leone have worked things out. I was also rather surprised, contrary to what I’d guessed in the last review, that the “turned into a magicite beast” process does NOT appear to be reversible. That said, Yua was at least polite enough to rescue the only one we’d actually seen named, and hopefully they can at least do SOMETHING for him.

After a half-volume of fighting, the epilogue features a whole lot of eating. This is definitely an “end of arc” book, and the next one promises to be far more light-hearted. That said, it also promises fewer fights. I hope I’m wrong there.