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.

Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire, Vol. 7

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 getting an anime starting in a few days, and it will be interested to see what sort of tone it takes. I suspect it will be more towards the light-hearted end, because there’s just no other way to see Inglis and Rafinha otherwise, but there is a lot of darkness and tragedy in this series as well… which is frequently glossed over, let’s be honest. In any case, the anime will likely adapt at least three books and possibly four, because these books are short and read very fast. They are not interested in stopping to think about what happens to the people left behind, or to the buildings destroyed in Inglis’ fights, they are moving on to the next fight. That may change in Book 8, though, as the cliffhanger to this book is a nasty one, and is bringing the “let’s kill generic monsters” part of these volumes a lot closer to home.

Believe it or not, things happen away from Inglis as well, and the first third or so of this book shows us Rafael, Eris and Ripple trying to combine fighting a war with fighting monsters and getting very frustrated that they’re the only side that wants to call off the first part because of the danger of the second part. The enemy commander is very determined to destroy Karelia, and he has a somewhat naive but deeply besotted hieral menace to help him. Fortunately, when all seems lost, along comes Inglis to save the day… mostly because saving the day, for once, involves fighting a really strong opponent and going all out. Yes, for once, everyone’s interests align with hers, and only Rafinha seems to care that this is merely Inglis doing what she would have done anyway.

The front of the book is interesting as it reminds us that there are normal people in this world doing things sensibly. Rafael, Rafinha’s brother, is an upright, honest young man, who spends much of this book infuriated that people are not fighting honestly or sensibly. Eris and Ripple are both there to essentially hold him back from the last ditch move that he has against horrible threats, which does resolve the threat but also kills him. They’re all good people, and I’d say that they deserve a book of their own, but it would probably be very dull, because we’re reading this for our meathead heroine and her total lack of common sense. Heck, even her bad habits save the day here – not only her fighting, but also the fact that she and Rafinha brought along a huge chunk of ancient dragon meat, which turns out to have healing properties. Yes, Inglis has now combined her fighting and eating to have infinite fighting without having to worry about killing her opponent. Tremble in fear.

And then there’s that nasty cliffhanger… theoretically. This series is on the lighter end of the spectrum, despite all the bad things happening, so I suspect the answer to “is this reversible” will be “yes”, but you never know. Till then, enjoy the fighting.

Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire, Vol. 6

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.

Several characters over the course of this series have noted an odd disconnect between Inglis and, well, everything she says or does. We, the reader, know the reason for this, i.e. she’s a reincarnation of an ancient King. Of course, that’s not entirely the explanation, because the previous King was honestly nothing like Inglis – this seems to be that King unfiltered, with “fight fight fight eat eat eat” as their main theme song. Sometimes, though, this disconnect ends up happening to the reader as well, because some of the events in this volume feel like straight up horror, or tragedy, but they’re not written that way at all. They’re written the Inglis way. Which is to say “Aw, shame that happened, anyway, next battle plz”. And the effect can be jarring. I already have tremendous trouble with remembering anyone in this series who is not Inglis or Rafinha, I need my books to be uncomplicated. And what happens here… is, but that’s the problem.

To sum up this entire volume: “what if Smaug was a woobie?”. Inglis and the others have found an ancient sleeping dragon, but it’s hard to wake him up, so they decide instead to cut off his tail and use it to feel the starving people of that area (well, and feed Inglis and Rafinha, who gets first shot). The tail grows back, so no issues there. Finally the dragon does wake up, and he’s really, really pissed off at Inglis. Sadly for him, Inglis not only really wants a good fight, but is good enough to back up her talk. What follows is almost bullying, and it’s only resolved when the dragon finally decides “why am I bothering?” and stops rising to her taunts. That said, Inglis may have a bigger problem… the folks in the town they’re staying in want to execute Pullum for her brother’s crimes.

As I said, I liked the dragon. He was clearly being led by the nose by Inglis, and his solution to the problem was funny. Even the cast thinks that her plan was “become friends with the dragon”. That’s why the sudden ending of that plotline left such a bad taste in my mouth. It feels like it should be terrifying, sad and awful, but this author cannot really seem to do convey that mood, so it comes out, as most things in this series do, as “OK, so that happened”. Similarly, Ian’s story, which is similar to what happens to the dragon’s, comes to a sudden fatal end here, but there’s no real time for any emotions or grieving because we’ve already moved on to the next crisis. I get that they’re at war, but it’s not letting the reader connect with any of this either, and the result is that we don’t care.

This is still a good book if you like meathead girls who love to fight. But it’s very, very shallow.