BLADE & BASTARD: Dungeon Chronicle

By Kumo Kagyu and so-bin. Released in Japan as “Blade & Bastard” by Dre Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

This was better than the last volume, possibly as it’s a short story collection disguised as a novel. The stories are vaguely interconnected, except for the first one, and are all related to the aftermath of the third book. Iarumas is in deep thought, so is not going into the dungeons, leading the rest of the cast to try to go in without him. They’re helped by some eccentric new cast members, of course, who may or may not stick around. (I’m sure the twins will, not so sure about the chuuni.) And of course, in case you’d forgotten, Aine is not doing anything at all in this book, as she lost both her arms in the last volume. That said, this turns out to be what Iarumas is in deep thought about, so hopefully we can do something about it. Mostly, though, this is a book that allows Orlaya to step up and show that she’s likely to be the second protagonist going forward.

As I said, this starts off looking like a short story collection, as we get a flashback showing how the All-Stars got together and what Sezmar was like when he first got to the city. After that, we follow Schumacher with a party of his own, including twins who “came back wrong” after resurrection and a ninja thief who seems to be really into her role but rapidly finds the dungeon is not a place where she can pretend to be Megumin. We then get a short comedic chapter from the POV of Garbage’s new sword, which is the funniest chapter in the book. Then Iarumas goes hunting in the dungeon for something, but doesn’t quite find it. The last two chapters are interconnected, as the main team, minus Iarumas and Aine but plus the twins (now slightly less wrong) and the ninja go hunting and find a pool with a rubber duck… which may be exactly what Iarumas wants.

As always, the new characters are a) interesting, and b) the author’s barely disguised fetish. In this case it is twins, Rahm-and-Sahm, who are now half and half each other thanks to a botched resurrection. They’re weird and stoic. Then, later in the book, they get a lot more vibrant… and a lot more annoying, having apparently come to terms with basically being each other and deciding they’re OK with it. The other new character is Shadowwind, who as I said sounded like a Crimson Demon when she first arrived, but the dangers of the dungeon shut her up fairly quickly, and by the end of the book she’s gored in the throat (which she survives) and blown up by an exploding trap (which she does not). She’ll be resurrected, but I’m not sure we’ll see her again. She’s just not as… interesting as twins who are each wearing the other half of their twin. And again, by “interesting” I mean “the author’s basely disguised fetish”.

The regulars do all get a lot to do, and Orlaya in particular shows off her skills as more than just “another love interest for Raraja”, so rest assured. And yeah, sorry to spoil, but Aine gets her arms back. I could see the author trying to decide between “battle-crazed nun with a sword” and “amputee nun” for hours before making the decision, and fortunately they made the right one. Next time, royal intrigue? More of Princess Garbage? We shall see.

Ascendance of a Bookworm: I’ll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!, Part 5: Avatar of a Goddess, Vol. 11

By Miya Kazuki and You Shiina. Released in Japan as “Honzuki no Gekokujou: Shisho ni Naru Tame ni wa Shudan wo Erandeiraremasen” by TO Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by quof.

So yes, I have to apologize for my glib remarks in the last review. I joked that Rozemyne’s memory wasn’t affected at all, as she didn’t love anything more than books. But of course, the only reason she remembers Ferdinand is that he was pouring his mana into her (and oh, we have more to say on that later). And, of course, she loves her family more. No, not her adopted family – sorry, Charlotte, she does recall who you are. No, she can’t remember her birth family at all, and it bothers her. More disturbingly, she has also lost all her PTSD related to feystones – very convenient for the plot to actually occur, but also likely putting off a complete breakdown in the future. Fortunately, she does remember enough to know what’s important right now – she and Ferdinand being the most terrifying power couple in the history of the world, and bringing the hammer of justice on anyone who might say otherwise.

We pick up at the end of all the fighting, but we still have to deal with the royal family. Mostly as someone has to be the Zent, and both Ferdinand and Rozemyne are adamant it’s not going to be them. It can’t be Trauerqual, he’s too depressed. It can’t be Sigiswald, he’s too much of a massive dipshit. (Adolphine divorcing his ass the moment she gets the opportunity is a punch the air moment.) So it’s got to be Eglantine, who still hates war but now realizes that being Zent is the best way to prevent it. Unfortunately, Rozemyne is still very, very full of divine mana after the crowning, and it’s killing her. So they spend the rest of the book trying to drain off her mana without her starving to death… and it all comes back when she sleeps. It’s a race against time, where time is a literal hourglass filled with too much mana.

I do appreciate the book allowing asexual interpretations more than most series would. The comedy highlight of this volume is of Rozemyne finally having euphemisms explained to her, and realizing what “dye me with your mana” actually means. Which she’s still too young for, as everyone notes with more euphemisms. But Rozemyne says – again – that she’s never understood what’s so important about sex – not as Urano, and not here in this world. And Ferdinand, I think, is OK with that. I don’t know if a sequel years in the future will show her with children, but certainly the current Rozemyne is content to have Ferdinand merely be the most important person in her life. Which, given who she is, means she will destroy an entire country for him. But not because she’s horny.

There are several side stories as usual, including one with Hannelore that might be setting up the sequel due out next month that she stars in. But for the moment we’ll wait till the next volume, which is, at last, the end of Myne and Rozemyne’s story. I absolutely can’t wait.

Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire, Vol. 11

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.

The author of this book, in the afterword, talks about being happy with this book to clarify plot points and tie a lot of things together, something they don’t really like to do, as leaving things vague allows them to change their mind later. As such, I wish that I was more excited by some of the “revelations” that we get here. More than anything, they remind me of shonen manga revelations, which makes sense because, light novel or no, this series is at heart a shonen battle manga. And indeed, half the volume is a fight followed more another fight. So it’s not a big surprise that most of the revelations are of the “Luke, I am your father” type, with surprise relatives and surprise heiral menaces… well, OK, not so much a surprise, we’ve known something was up with Yua almost since we met her. That said, if all you can recall from this is Inglis punching things, you’ll be fine.

First of all, congrats to those who were sick of Inglis looking like a child, she’s back to being 16 years old again. Well, in body, at least. At the end of the last book we got the start of a bad-guy-on-good-guy pileup, and we get the continuation of that here, which culminates in Inglis accidentally hurling herself into the sarcophagus where Eris ended up… which then sinks to the bottom of the sea. Fortunately, time moves much slower in the sarcophagus. Unfortunately, the bad guys are definitely winning with Inglis gone, and are determined to find out how much more mana they can grind up if they use Highlanders rather than regular people. They really need Inglis to come back and rescue them. And she will come… ten years later. Well, OK, ten years later for her. It’s about an hour later for the rest of the cast.

OK, word of warning: This volume ends its main story about page 130, and there’s the an extended story that talks about Eris’ past before she became a hieral menace. First of all, this story has sexual assault. Secondly, this story is SO dark that I basically started reading as fast as possible to get through it. This is even worse than the “oh my god, it’s made of people!” from the previous book, and essentially serves as an object lesson for Inglis about how she’s had it really nice since she was reincarnated, what with the loving family, most of whom are alive, and the monstrous superpowers. I kind of hated that whole story, and the one big revelation in it will I’m sure come up again in the main story, so feel free to skip it entirely. Other than that, this is the same old same old, though I think readers will be happy it ends up back at the academy, with this arc now over.

So yeah, because that story finished up the book, I ended up more annoyed than happy. Inglis continuing to be an overprotective dad type to Rafinha doesn’t help. Still, it’s got some really nice fights.