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.

Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire, Vol. 5

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.

I am deliberately not reading prior reviews of this (which I normally do), because I know I will be typing the exact same goddamn thing again. There’s just no avoiding it. So here we go: This series only has one joke. It’s STILL a good joke. That said, the dichotomy between Reborn to Master the Blade as amusing reading about a meathead and her slightly less meathead sister and Reborn to Master the Blade as a dark fantasy with a lot of casual death is widening, and it does not always mesh together well. There’s a moment in this book where an entire city rises into the air, and Inglis notes that this is likely due to a LOT of people being executed to harvest their energy. And, as it turns out later, she is correct. However, we barely notice this as we’re listening to Inglis trying to figure out how to clone herself to solve her fighting problems.

Inglis and company are traveling in secret to Alcard, in order to try to do something about the impending war. Unfortunately, Alcard has changed a LOT since the last time Lahti, Pullum and Ian were there. The people are starving to death, their food having been taken at the behest of their heiral menace, Tiffanyer, who has the power to make anyone sing “I Think We’re Alone Now”… erm, well, I’m not sure if her power is literal brainwashing or merely incredible charisma, but she’s won over a lot of the knights of Alcard, including Lahti’s older brother. She’s also hella strong, meaning Inglish is having trouble focusing on the mission and not focusing on getting a really good fight with Tiffanyer. That said, the thing that shows up at the very end of the book makes even our favorite meathead step back and pause to reflect.

Again, the one joke is a REALLY GOOD JOKE. The running idea of Inglis thinking about cloning herself, and being told the many ways this is a bad idea, then trying to fix it by tripling herself… it’s hilarious. It will never happen, and THANK GOD, but it’s hilarious anyway. I also loved the desperate stupidity of the world’s two hungriest girls trying to get by on eating snow with sugar and salt sprinkled on top of it. Beyond that, however, things are pretty dark. There’s one point where they literally find a church full of dead children who starved to death due to the machinations of Tiffanyer. What’s more, she’s not merely evil for evil’s sake – she’s grabbing what she can because she knows the penalty for failure. It’s increasingly likely that peace is not something that’s coming anytime soon. And given what shows up at the end of the book, apocalypse is looking a bit more likely.

If you can tolerate the book turning from “this is a horrible tragedy with the corpses of children” to “dur hur Inglis love fighting!” this is still a fun series. Plus the books read fast.