Monthly Archives: November 2019

Record of Wortenia War #2 (Light Novel)

Title: Record of Wortenia War #2

Author: Ryota Hori

Format: Light Novel

Ryoma may have been pulled into another world, but he’s determined to make his own way. When a scheme pulls his party into taking the fall for one side in a civil war, Ryoma determines to join the opposition in revenge. If he can help Princess Lupis win, he can use her authority to press his case against the instigator. All it will take is some strategic thinking and some good allies—neither of which Princess Lupis currently possesses.

This is the start of the first major arc for the series, and there’s a lot going on. Even before the civil war shows up, schemes and factions are everywhere. I like that none of the sides are easy to pigeonhole: Lupis may be the legitimate heir, but this is really a fight between someone on the noble’s faction and someone in the knights faction who are both using a figurehead to advance their own bid for the throne. And although each side has its adherents, there’s a significant fraction of the country that’s trying to play a wait-and-see game or just stay out of the mess entirely.

Ryoma is a newcomer to all of this, but that outside perspective may be more of a help than a hindrance. Lupis is smarter than her aides, but she’s no political animal, and her closest aides are blind loyalists who think everyone should help out of the goodness of their hearts. Ryoma, who understands profit is a better motivation than patriotism, is a much better match against the ambitious men working to undermine Lupis.

Overall this is the point where the story really starts diverging from traditional light novel plots, and it’s where the series starts getting good. The book does end right in the middle of things, so it would be a good idea to have the next one handy. I rate this book Recommended.

Record of Wortenia War #1 (Light Novel)

Title: Record of Wortenia War #1

Author: Ryota Hori

Format: Light Novel

Ryoma isn’t your typical high school kid—he’s used to training with his grandfather to use martial arts as a deadly weapon and not a sport. So when he’s summoned to another world, it doesn’t take long for him to realize it’s his life and future on the line, and react accordingly. But antagonizing the Empire that summoned him is a dangerous game. If he can’t slip past the borders before they catch him, he’ll have a very short life in this new world . . .

The main attraction of the first book is Ryoma himself. He’s not motivated by revenge particularly, at least at first, but he is smart enough to find the summoning a bad idea with only one way out—and he has no hesitation murdering the people trying to enslave him. It’s a nice touch that many of the castle people are presented in terms that would otherwise make them sympathetic, if they weren’t totally convinced otherworlders like Ryoma are just tools to be used at their convenience. And Ryoma knows that most of the people he’s killing aren’t monsters (although a strong argument could be made for Gaius being one), but he’s willing to make the pragmatic choices to ensure his own survival.

I love the following quote and I think it sums things up perfectly:

“This is what I think: you’re free to try and take advantage of me, and I’m free to defend myself. I’m not dumb enough to think that if I hit someone they won’t try to hit back, though. And it’s exactly because I know they’ll hit back that I try not to hit anyone, unless I’m prepared for them to retaliate… And when I’m resolved to kill anyone who dared pick a fight with me.”

But Ryoma isn’t the only part of this book, unfortunately. His encounter with two scantily-clad sisters that immediately enslave themselves to him is the worst part by far. These aren’t characters, they’re caricatures that bundle a bunch of annoying tropes into a book that so far had been doing a good job avoiding the worst of them. I hate these characters. They have no personality beyond “yes, Master.”

I do know from reading ahead that future books minimize Laura and Sara’s roles to a level that’s more tolerable, and that the series improves from here. But their awkward inclusion leaves me disinclined to recommend this except as the backstory to the much better second book. I rate this book Neutral.

Ascendance of a Bookworm #4 (Light Novel)

Title: Ascendance of a Bookworm #4

Author: Miya Kazuki

Format: Light Novel

Myne has at last gotten close enough to books to read them—even if it did require her to join the temple. But she soon finds her position involves more than just quiet days of paperwork and reading—her mandatory assistants want nothing to do with her, and the temple is hiding some ugly secrets. For his part, Lutz is managing well in his apprenticeship, but his family relationships are falling apart because of it. The two of them have a long road ahead . . .

Although Myne has her share of interesting events, Lutz is really the star of this book for me. I love how the High Priest basically intervenes because his calculator lost efficiency, but he gives Myne a great lesson about listening to all sides in a problem before jumping to conclusions. Lutz has been suffering because he can’t communicate effectively with people who don’t want to listen, and because he can’t read minds. And I LOVE that Lutz’s dad gets called out for his own terrible communication and the damage his assumptions has caused.

It’s also fun how the High Priest has become yet another adult Myne inadvertently drives crazy. She’s so helpful to him both financially and abilities-wise that he gets a little more involved with her than I think he intended, and her differing points of view as well as her frail health mean he’s often thrown out of sorts trying to manage her.

Overall this was another solid volume. Myne is starting to make ripples in larger ways now, and her choices impact more people than ever. I’m looking forward to where this goes next. I rate this book Recommended.

Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town #1 (Light Novel)

Title: Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town #1

Author: Toshio Satou

Format: Light Novel

Lloyd Belladonna is finally achieving his dream of leaving his small village and going to the city to be a soldier. He wants to be something other than the weakest person around. But this meek and gentle boy has no idea his standards of “strong” are nonsense to the average citizen . . .

I first found out about this through the manga, and unfortunately I think that’s the better presentation of this story. The prose in the prologue is particularly choppy, with the narrator interjecting parenthetical comments every few lines, and although it does get better in the first chapter, it’s still only serviceable at best.

The story is entertaining, though. Lloyd has grown up in a village of former heroes, at the very edge of the world where the strongest monsters lurk. He can’t even do basic chores because even something like cutting wood or catching fish involves a fight with your life on the line (the bit where he insists he’ll be fine because fish in the capital have no horns or fangs says it all, really). So when Lloyd sees a twelve-foot locust, his reaction is “oh, there’s a bug” and squashes it, when everyone around him is screaming in terror.

In terms of characters, only Lloyd, Marie, and Chrome get much development. Marie is running from who she used to be, and trying to untangle the plots that might destroy the country. Lloyd drops into her life, and slowly everything she thought was impossible works out. And it’s her determination to protect him and keep her promise to his village chief that forces her into a hard choice.

The others are more comic relief at this point. Selen’s tendency to write her own romance with Lloyd can be amusing, but also feels a bit overplayed. Riho is more there to give reactions to the insanity surrounding her. And so on.

Overall I like the story, although it may come off better in the manga (or potentially the upcoming anime next year), where the bits of awkward prose won’t get in the way. I rate this book Recommended.

Favorite quote:
“He’s a former royal guard. Now he runs a cafeteria for the cadets: The kind of place where the portions are huge, the price is right, and the flavor is questionable at best.”
“He had one job! He’s failing at the single most important part.”
“See, he insists if it tastes too good, it’ll ruin them for field rations.”