Reign of the Seven Spellblades, Vol. 10

By Bokuto Uno and Miyuki Ruria. Released in Japan as “Nanatsu no Maken ga Shihai suru” by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

Longer than usual content warning here: with this volume, the rating for these novels rises from Teen to Older Teen, and the content bears that out. There’s sexual references, discussion of a horrific sexual assault, discussion of a graphic and horrific torture and murder, a graphic amputation scene, use of a swear word that is far less problematic in the UK than in the US, and, worst of all, I’m going to have to discuss that series about the boy at the wizarding school with the scar again. Reader discretion is highly advised.

When I was about halfway through this volume, I pretty much knew what I was going to be talking about. There would still be a content warning, of course. After all, there’s not only a relatively explicit sex scene between Oliver and Nanao here, but also Leoncio is in this, so there’s a lot of talk of big dicks here. Oh yes, and Miligan is called a cunt. To be fair, she absolutely deserves that one, especially because I’m sure it’s in the British English sense. But yeah, the front half was filled with things to talk about. The “polycule” that our heroes have become, and how much I love it. Katie’s backstory was jaw-dropping, and really deserved me talking about it, as well as the fact that almost everyone has written her off as next to snap. The fights were all awesome, the election results were terrific. Teresa is growing up, and she hates it. That was great. . And I saw that the last half of the book was ALL battle against one of Oliver’s targets. Meh. A lot of fighting. Won’t have much to say.


I do appreciate that the series does give a real backstory and sympathy to some of its antagonists. We get Demetrio Aristedes’ backstory here, and like a lot of this series, it involves idealistic attempts to make things better turning into something horrific and tragic. That said, his backstory is dwarfed by what we finally get in this book: Oliver’s life to date. We get some adorable and heartwarming scenes with him and his parents, because gut punches don’t work if everything has been bad from the start. We get the brutal, graphic death of his mother, and see how she was betrayed by one of her closest friends (and oh boy, that’s a can of worms I can’t even get into in this review, it will have to wait.) We get his adoption by the Sherwoods, which unfortunately is because their patriarch sees him as an experiment rather than as a person. We see that, on the cover with Oliver and Demetrio, is Shannon Sherwood, and possibly wonder why she’s give n such an important placing. And then we find out why. Of all the horrific scenes in this volume, the flashback of Oliver being drugged and mind controlled to rape and impregnate Shannon is the worst, and it really throws their relationship into sharp relief. Oh yes, and there is, of course, Yuri. Whose story ends here, but at least the way he goes out is one of the few triumphant moments in this pummeling book.

Sigh. So OK, let’s talk Harry Potter. This series has been compared to those books from the very start, but we’re now ten volumes in, and “oh gee Guy and Katie sort of have a Ron and Hermione vibe” is not only the least of the comparisons, but also mostly wrong. It’s at its most obvious in this book in the flashback to the torture scene, when Darius, Oliver’s first victim from Book One, takes point to be the first to torture Chloe to death, and he revels in it in a way that HAS to remind people of Severus Snape. There’s also a definite James and Lily vibe to Edgar and Chloe, though (because this series glories in subverting Potter as much as it pastiches it) what the two of them do for Oliver is far darker and more interesting. I’m not sure where this series if going to end up, but there is absolutely no way it’s ending up with the next generation of the cast going off to school 15 years later.

As with Eighty-Six I am very concerned, and half convinced, this will end with nearly the entire cast dead. Hell, a lot of them will deserve it. With Eighty-Six I’m hoping that the main couple will make it out OK, but Seven Spellblades has a much higher bar to clear. I’ve joked before about the main six being a polycule, but it’s made explicit here. They’re family. They’re probably all going to be lovers soon (Oliver and Nanao are mostly there, only held back by his past trauma). They have a bond that deserves to live on. I desperately want them all to survive and make the worst a nice place. A swell place. A place where magic kids can play stickball in the street with their athames without fear of being consumed by anything. It’s not going to happen, I am aware. But God, it’s a great dream. Let these kids stop suffering.

Reign of the Seven Spellblades, Vol. 9

By Bokuto Uno and Miyuki Ruria. Released in Japan as “Nanatsu no Maken ga Shihai suru” by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

Well, the good news is the Spellblades anime was not the complete disaster the way, say, Spy Classroom is. The bad news is that it wasn’t all that great, either, and I doubt a lot of folks who hadn’t read the books will be reading the anime and going “whoah, need to read that”. Which is a shame, as these really are a series of great light novels, but alas, “first rule of anime: drop the internal narration” strikes again. As for this volume, it was mostly excellent, with one major exception which I will get to. It also had a hell of a cliffhanger, as for once the author did NOT write the end of an arc with “and I’ve run out of pages, so bye”, but instead teases us with something that I really don’t want to have happen but will also be really interested in if it does. That said, most of this is the last of the tournament, so fight, fight, fight.

There are three big battles in this book. First, Oliver, Nanao and Yuri have to fight Ursule Valois and her other team members, Generic Person 1 and Generic Person 2. This gets into a long discussion of sword styles but is derailed a bit by a flashback that made me want to drop the series. After that, Stacy, Fay and Chela go up against Richard Andrews and his team of final bosses, and do their best despite Chela basically being told “you can’t win because the teacher is your dad”. Finally, Team Andrews and Team Horn get a knock-down, drag-out battle which allows Yuri to actually become a real live boy but gives Nanao her worst nightmare: an erotically charged swordfight between Oliver and someone who isn’t her.

There are so many ways that this series feels like it was written by an emo 24-year-old boy. Sometimes this is awkward but endearing, such as Horn and Andrews battling to see if they get to call each other by their first names and maybe hang out sometimes. Sometimes this is pretty damn cool, such as Katie sticking to her principles so much that she might eventually turn evil and die, or Chela needing to be Bright Slapped by her dad. And sometimes it’s really awful and stupid. I don’t like “let me show you a flashback to my super evil abusive family to show you why I am super evil and abusive” to begin with, but this one adds a kitten to the trauma to make things extra horrible. There was no need for that, and I say this as someone who wrote very similar things when *I* was 24. That said, I’m never going to be able to stop Spellblades wearing its heart on its sleeve, which means that sometimes you get really awesome stuff, and sometimes you get this. It’s all just out there on the page, everything.

So the arc is over, go in peace. Tune in next time to see if Yuri dies, if Katie turns evil, or if Oliver and Nanao finally bang. The first two are far more likely than the third.

Reign of the Seven Spellblades, Vol. 8

By Bokuto Uno and Miyuki Ruria. Released in Japan as “Nanatsu no Maken ga Shihai suru” by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

I have grown used to this series casually killing people off. It’s easy to guess when they’re one of the people on Oliver’s hit list, but we’ve also seen the glorious death of Diana Ashbury and others. The author knows this, of course, and plays with it throughout this book, making me assume once or twice that we were going to see yet another tragic student fate. Because, well, every student at this academy has a mission just as important to them as Oliver’s, a mission that they will kill for (OK, maybe not Guy, I can’t see Guy turning into an instrument of vengeance), and that unfortunately a lot of these goals and missions end prematurely and in death. It’s the nature of how they’re being taught in this academy that, frankly, takes sink or swim to all-new heights. It doesn’t help that – again – this volume ends with no epilogue or cooldown, just a climactic final scene and then the end.

The combat league continues, but there’s a more important issue to deal with: Godfrey’s sternum bone has been stolen by Cyrus, and without it his abilities are down to about 1/20th what they should be. No, this is still enough for him to slip through the early rounds of this tournament, but he needs that bone back if he’s going to get further – or win the election. And so everyone who is supporting him in the election, including our heroes, go on a journey to find Cyrus and get the bone back. Along the way they discover exactly WHY Cyrus is going around stealing everyone’s bones, and it will come as no surprise to find that it’s not because he’s just a giant jerk, but because of a life goal he has to achieve.

Fans of Spellblades will find a lot of things they like in this, including the fact that every single time Oliver and Nanao converse with each other at all, it’s interpreted by everyone else as “flirting” – much to the annoyance of Katie and Pete, the others in his unwanted harem. (I say again, poor Guy, who has so many issues. He’s the least developed character of the six, he’s clearly being paired off with Katie but she likes Oliver, and he’s R*n W**sl*y in all but name.) There are also some truly fantastic fights, and we get to spend time with the badass Lesedi Ingwe and the badass but also hilarious Tim Linton. That said, the best part of the book is Cyrus and why he’s doing this, and the final pages are really well handled. To say more would be to spoil.

I have no idea what’s going to happen next, thanks to this volume ending so abruptly. I assume more combat league stuff, as you can’t really drag a tournament arc on too long… (stares nervously at The Asterisk War)… right?