Category Archives: Young Adult

Ancient Barons and the Returned Assassin (Code of Rainbow #2)

Title: Ancient Barons and the Returned Assassin

Author: Weiqi Wang

Series: Code of Rainbow #2

Soarame is busy learning all he can at school so that he can become an Expert wizard and start to uncover some of the secrets in his life. But when a threatening message appears, he realizes Rodka, who already graduated and left, is in danger. Soarame and his friends are determined to help, even though they can’t leave campus. Magic can do many things . . .

I really liked this. The beginning is a bit rough, as it’s not immediately obvious there was a timeskip from the previous book, so I was a bit confused at how much farther along everyone was. But I soon settled in for an enjoyable ride.

Soarame has grown up some, and so have his friends. There’s little hints of romance here and there, although both Soarame and the girl he likes are terminally shy and unable to make the first move. The Dragons and Empires team he was dreaming about in the previous book is now a reality, as his magic has advanced enough to make him capable of playing in more than a practice match.

I liked Eric, too. He’s a new addition to Soarame’s group of friends and his team—the missing Darkness player that Halgon should’ve been, if Halgon were there. Like many of Soarame’s friends, he’s got his own share of secrets. As with Halgon, the revelation of those secrets casts an interesting light on all of his earlier actions.

The magimals remain as cute and funny as ever. They’re still pretty young, but they’re big enough to help out more. I also liked seeing the wild ones, although I imagine taming a wild one might be more successful if you didn’t approach them with demands to basically become slaves. They are intelligent enough to see that as a very bad idea.

Overall this was another excellent story, and I can’t wait for the third book to be released.

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Arcane (The Arinthian Line #1)

Title: Arcane

Author: Sever Bronny

Series: The Arinthian Line #1

Augum’s life shatters when the distant Legion proves his town is not too small to conquer. But though he loses much, he gains a power he never suspected. And with that power comes the chance to build a new life for himself, with a teacher, a home, and friends. But the Legion is determined to control or crush those with power, and Augum and his mentor are a powerful draw.

This was good, although it didn’t stand out to me much. There were a few plot twists that I expected, which felt a bit hammered in. Augum’s family is one of the expected ones.

I didn’t care so much for the magic system. I have no problem with the grades of magic and how they’re awarded, but the level of spells is a bit weird, and it is confusing why different elements seem to have the same spells. For example, I can totally buy “create a light” magic existing across multiple elements, manifesting differently per element but still roughly the same. It’s a bit harder to believe lightning magic will execute repair spells, and that repair is such a low-level spell when it can be used for such massive things even by beginners. Also I would have liked to see magic used more outside the standard system, as it’s made clear the standards were developed by a body of mages and don’t seem to be actual limits of the power.

I did mostly like the characters. Augum’s journey goes through several phases. When he finally gets friends they work together well, and the girls add some depth. I’m sure the prince will turn out not to be a total brat, but right now it feels like he needs a good spanking before all the goodwill. He’d make a terrible king, everyone knows it, and no one will say it to his face until the villain at the end. And given who’s saying it, I can’t imagine that will have much impact.

Overall I’d be interested to see where this goes next, as it looks like we’ve pushed past most of the more standard developments and are venturing into new territory. I rate this book Recommended.

Soaring Flame and the Dragon-Transcending Magimal (Code of Rainbow #1)

Title: Soaring Flame and the Dragon-Transcending Magimal

Author: Weiqi Wang

Series: Code of Rainbow #1

Soarame possesses an unusual gift: he can see the colors of magic. Trained by a wizard, then sent to a school, he works to master the various gifts he has in the hopes of one day finding out more about his family. But not everyone he meets wants the best for him, and his gifts have the potential to cause a lot of trouble.

I really liked this. Soarame is an innocent and happy child, and despite the bullies and hardships he runs into, he largely maintains that hopeful and positive outlook. He’s greatly gifted, for sure, but his ability to see magic is actually only a small part of this.

This can also lead to a lot of humor, like the scene where Soarame is filling out his college application. He’s told to choose between a number of schools, and uses a completely arbitrary set of criteria to make his choices—which confuses the administrators so much he gets called in to explain.

I also loved how Soarame ends up as the only boy in a major dominated by girls. It’s a twist on the usual trope, and it’s equal parts awkward and hilarious. My favorite part was how the teacher keeps redirecting the conversation when he says something unintentionally shocking (the various uses for water magic).

The sport sounds like fun, and I like how it ties into a major historical event. Interestingly, though, Soarame doesn’t actually compete in any real sense. He’s a fan and working to form a team eventually, but at most he’s just able to run a practice match, because right now his powers aren’t good enough to deal with higher-graded wizards.

Finally, the magimals (magical animals) add another interesting facet. The category is very broad, so we get a lot of (terminally cute) baby magimals showing up later in the story. It will be fun to see how they grow up (and how much trouble they cause along the way).

Overall this was an excellent read, and I’m looking forward to the next book. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 6 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 6

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

Hajime never intended to get involved in the war between the demons and the humans, but when the royal capital is attacked while he’s in it, he can’t help but get caught up in things. In addition, conspiracies are multiplying like crazy: Aiko’s been kidnapped because of what Hajime told her, some of the people around the palace have been acting very strangely, and some classmates are not what they seem.

This volume continues the trend of excellent fight scenes. Some of them are the expected curbstomps—the invading army was pretty much doomed when it picked a city Hajime was in—but Hajime is starting to attract the attention of higher-level fighters who can match or exceed him in combat, which keeps the overall book more interesting.

Aiko had some good moments too, although I still dislike how she’s basically falling in love with Hajime over something he did while she was dying.

I’m a bit mixed on the other student conspiracies, though. Some of this has been set up over the course of a few books now, and it was nice to see how that plays out, but others just felt like the author went “Welp, you need to be evil now.” I don’t entirely buy the reason or the behavior because there was just no clue ahead of time. (And no, the nameless student segments hinting that someone is evil don’t really count for me, since we can’t see it in the person’s behavior otherwise, and those scenes could just as easily apply to others.)

Overall if you’ve been enjoying the series so far, this is another good entry. I rate this book Recommended.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 5 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 5

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

It’s time for Hajime to return Myu to her mother—but new locations inevitably mean new problems. An oasis town is suffering from a contaminated water supply. Two new dungeons await, pushing Hajime and his companions to their limit.

For the first time, we have a good look into the demon’s perspective. And Hajime meets someone he can’t overpower or avoid, who is competing with him to conquer the ancient labyrinths and obtain their powers.

I also liked the way Hajime gets roped into helping out around town far more than he originally wanted to. Certain types of problems are very easy for him and his party to solve, which makes him feel like it’s not a big deal, even though it’s still things others find impossible to duplicate.

I’m still not a fan of the harem antics, but at least there’s enough other stuff going on to balance it out. Myu’s mother is of course added as another candidate, and Kaori is working on integrating herself with the group.

Overall, if you’ve liked the previous ones this is a good next step. It throws a few more interesting things into the mix, namely the demons, and has plenty of good action scenes. I rate this book Recommended.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 4 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 4

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

Hajime has rescued Will from an army of monsters, but no sooner are they home then the trouble starts all over again. This time it’s Myu, a small slave girl Hajime inadvertently rescues. And she’s not the only one in trouble—Kouki and the strongest of the transplanted students are still pressing towards the bottom of the Great Orcus Labyrinth, and they’ve stumbled into far more than they can handle.

Given that last book only a few of Hajime’s classmates found out he’s still alive, this book has a second (and equally amusing) reunion—this time including Kaori, the girl who never stopped believing he’d survived.

I really like how Hajime challenges Kouki’s heroism. To some extent, Kouki has the Hero class because he really is heroic. But his weaknesses are equally glaring, and have been pointed out since the first book: his inflexible thinking, his inability to even see things that don’t match his assumptions, and his lack of resolve. I love that Hajime points out Kouki’s unwillingness to kill an enemy has more to do with his own unwillingness to see someone die and not compassion or mercy.

Endou’s stealth skills were also good for several laughs. “And just who are you calling the king of invisibility!? I’ll have you know that the automatic doors at stores open for me one-third of the time!”

Kaori’s crisis at seeing Hajime alive but almost totally different was one of the best parts of the book. She’s waited and suffered so much for this moment, and yet it’s nothing like what she wanted it to be. She can’t keep her promise to protect him. In fact she’s rejecting who he is now more than anyone except Kouki.

Overall this is one of the better books in the series, as it mostly eschews the pandering for some solid plot development, intense action scenes, and strong character moments. I rate this book Recommended.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 3 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 3

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

When Hajime takes on a request to find a lost adventurer, the last thing he expects is to run into some of his old classmates. At least with the monsters he’s on more familiar ground. For his classmates, it’s a shocking revelation that Hajime even survived, let alone how much he’s changed.

This volume contains the moment I was hoping for since the end of the first book: Hajime’s reunion with his classmates. And it was every bit as funny as I anticipated. Hajime immediately goes rather grumpy and close-mouthed, possibly trying to tone things down for the teacher who’s been so distraught over his situation. But he can’t change the obvious fact of his current strength, which in its own way says more than words ever could.

I like that we get the perspective of Aiko, his teacher. She can’t help but see herself as responsible for all these kids, and the fact that they’re now in a world where death is just around the corner bothers her to no end. She doesn’t even have a combat class that she could train to keep them safe. And because Hajime knows this, it makes their reunion even more awkward, because she’s one of the only people he can respect.

Q: After you fell from the bridge, what happened?
A: I went through hell.
Q: How come your hair is white now?
A: Because I went through hell.

Also a major highlight is the continual shock and awe tactics Hajime pulls off. The battles are a lot of fun—and I love how Aiko accurately calls him out on what he didn’t say when she originally asked him about the army.

But it’s not entirely a volume without problems. Yet again we have medical procedures interpreted as kissing, and I’m doubly annoyed that this time it’s with his teacher. Tio, however, was even more eye-rolling. She was better before she joined the party, because once she does she’s yet another flat character whose whole existence becomes getting Hajime to sleep with her (and also punish her, because she’s into S&M). Which means yet another character has a really annoying behavior pattern that’s constantly popping up.

Overall, if you liked the first book I would say give this one a shot because it makes a nice benchmark to show how far Hajime has come. I rate this book Recommended.