The Reincarnated Prince and Felvolk’s Greatest Treasure

By Nobiru Kusunoki and Arico. Released in Japan as “Herscherik” by M Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by afm.

After the end of the previous book, things are going pretty well for the Kingdom Formerly Known as In Woe. The King and his sons are running around trying to slowly fix everything that Barbosse broke, and also trying to track down the corrupt nobles who benefited from it (as opposed to those who were just threatened into obedience). Indeed, the previously unseen Sixth Prince has returned, as he was going all around to various countries trying to gain allies and also get enough evidence to get rid of the thorn in their side, only to find Hersch took care of everything first. Herscherik is buried under paperwork, because oh my god there’s SO MUCH potentially crooked stuff to review, but there’s still time to go out to his favorite outdoor market. While there, however, he runs into the grocer he likes, who asks him to talk to two clearly suspicious people – a young red-haired woman and a man disguising his huge wings. Disguising because being a beastman in Gracia is punishable by death.

Those who recall the events of the third book might be looking at the cover of the fifth book and saying “oh dear, I hope this isn’t a trend”, but no, I’d be a lot crankier in my review if it were. For the most part this book is very good, showing off how difficult it can be to take definitive action when you are running a kingdom and have to obey its laws… even when some of the laws have reasons that are lost to the mists of time. Both “Kurenai” and “Ao” (Hersch is still giving codenames to people, and is still terrible at the names) have suitably tragic backgrounds, are suitably broken and fatalistic, and are cheered immensely be Herscherik basically being himself. We also meet the sixth prince’s bodyguard, Tatsu, who comes from a land that sounds very much like ancient Japan… and he seems to know that Kuro is still hiding some secrets. But that’s future Herscherik’s problem. The current one has his hands full trying to stop another self-sacrifice that ends in death.

The book has several sequel hooks, and the afterword has the author hoping to see us again soon. Unfortunately, when series are licensed from Japanese publishers, we do not get guarantees that the series will go on until a proper ending, and rumor has it that the series has been cancelled by the publisher in Japan. This is a shame, as it has a lot of elements that I quite enjoyed, using just the right amount of “I have my memories as an office lady from Japan”, having Herscherik be ludicrously good at political intrigue but also ludicrously bad at physical and magical things, so he always needs allies to kick asses for him, and good guys you want to root for. Perhaps one day we can get more of this, but until then, I’m glad I read what I did. Plus, as the books have a bit of “and in later years” history text to them, at least we know the good guys won down the road.

The Reincarnated Prince and the Hero of Light

By Nobiru Kusunoki and Arico. Released in Japan as “Herscherik” by M Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by afm.

The last two volumes of the Herscherik books have had the subtitle refer to a new vassal that is the focus of that particular book, so you might be coming into this one wondering who the Hero of Light is going to be. But no, Herscherik has a full army of weapons in his cache now, both in terms of the men he has at his side and also his family, who are increasingly rebelling more and more against the chains of Marquis Barbosse. He has tried assassinating the royal family to depress the King into doing his bidding, he has tried introducing lethal drugs into the kingdom, and he has tried using his own daughter in a plot to kill Herscherik, one that ends in her own death instead. And yet here is Herscherik, a literal seven-year-old running rings around him. Of course, the reader knows that’s because he has the mind of a brilliant Japanese middle manager in hi, but no one ELSE knows that. So there’s only one thing left to do: send Herscherik off to die in war.

Yes, in an incredibly convenient coincidence, the country next door has decided to amass a huge invasion force at the border, so the army needs to take their much smaller force and go investigate. Barbosse suggests that Herscherik should go, despite being seven, as … well, he comes up with excuses over and over as to why no one else in the family should go, to the point where by now everyone in the room is aware he’s doing his best Snidely Whiplash imitation. But that’s fine by Hersch, who has also decided to stop pretending to be an innocent seven-year-old and act his age + his reincarnated age. As a result, they head off into an obvious trap and, well, get ambushed. Surprise! That said, Herscherik is a good two or three steps ahead of Barbosse here, and, of course, has Kuro, Orange, and Weiss, who together are the equal of at LEAST one invading army.

The book reads as if the editor said “you know those scenes you always get near the end of a book that make the reader punch the air? Could you fill the book with them?”. Every confrontation is a joy, and while sometimes the plot does verge on the ridiculous (I will give the fall from the cliff a pass because every book needs at least one hand wave) other parts are very well crafted, bringing in events from the first three books and tying them together, and also answering the very obvious question we’ve had for some time: given Barbosse can kill off the royal family with impunity, why hasn’t he done away with the youngest prince? The book is also very good about talking about the difference between doing what’s right for the nation and doing what you personally want to do, and how even Hersch finds that hard to handle at times. And, as I mentioned before, the dramatic confrontations are to die for. (Literally, sometimes.)

The series is not over, and reassuring us that we’re still only in the prologue of the Tales of the Prince (though we do meet the author of the books here, a scrub in the army trying to survive so he can send his pay back to his family), but this book definitely closes the book on the plot that’s run through the previous three. Where does it go from here? We shall see. Till then, enjoy a fantastic light novel series that makes the reincarnation isekai bits work well and also not be overused.

The Reincarnated Prince and the Haloed Sage

By Nobiru Kusunoki and Arico. Released in Japan as “Herscherik” by M Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Adam Seacord.

This does not fall into the “Villainess Otome” genre of books – for one thing, Prince Herscherik is absolutely not a villain. Nor is it a game at all, but a real, very messy world that he lives in. But there are certainly otome game elements in the books, and it really has to be said that Herscherik, although male in this universe, is building up quite the reverse harem for himself. In the first book it was the dark assassin, in the second it was the fallen knight. And here, as the title might suggest, it’s the broken mage, a young man who is so beautiful that he’s always mistaken for a woman, and who is inextricably bound to the Church. Now, there is also another tortured soul to be saved in this book. Alas, she’s an assassin when we already have one of those, AND she’s a woman in what is becoming, as I said, a reverse harem. Since she’s not the Haloed Sage, it is not hard to see where her arc is going.

It’s been a few months after the last book, and Herscherik is going to be turning seven soon. Clearly it’s time to marry him off. Or so thinks the evil Grand Vizier… erm, Marquis, who has decided to try to beat that pesky youngest prince by having Hersch marry his daughter Violetta. He also has an older daughter, Jeanne, who basically acts as Violetta’s bodyguard and minder, but she has… a different job she’s doing for him. Surprisingly, the engagement goes fairly well – Hersch is simply incapable of being mean to people who don’t deserve it, and Violetta falls for him hard. He also has to deal with the aforementioned beautiful mage, who he names Shiro (to with with Kuro), who is rather startled that Hersch is not terrified by his magic. (Hersch, who can’t do magic, just thinks he’s cool.) And oh yes, there are still assassination attempts. Will Hersch be able to avoid tragedy? Well, yes but also no.

In this book we finally meet the rest of Hersch’s immediate siblings, and I love the fact that they are all basically on the same page as he is, even though they’re trying to protect him just as he’s trying to protect them. It leads to a lack of communication between the sides, but also shows off that while the royals are dealing with a weak king who is being tortured by his evil Marquis, they’re overall good people who are trying to fix this. The triplets were particularly fun, though I’m not sure having one of the brothers being a tsundere sort really works out. I also loved the part that shows us Ryoko’s life if she had not been run over by a car, which shows off a) how she tended to be overly self-effacing and modest even back in Japan, and also b) she’s very clever at spotting traps.

The book in general is excellent, with occasional suggestions of future events a la Legend of Galactic Heroes. For the moment, however, things are not looking good for Herscerik and his family, and I suspect the fourth book will rapidly reach a crisis point. Till then, absolutely recommended for J-Novel Heart or reincarnation isekai fans.