Category Archives: Young Adult

Dragon Maken War

Title: Dragon Maken War

Translator: NaughtyOtter

Chapters: 220 (Ongoing)

https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/dragon-maken-war

For seventeen years, humanity fought the Dragon Demons over the right to choose their own future. Azell ended that war by killing their king, but was cursed in return. In an effort to defeat the curse, or at least buy time for his friends to discover a cure, Azell chose to go into a dragon’s hibernation. But he woke much later than expected. 220 years later. Now he’s adrift in a world he barely recognizes, but the Dragon Demon King’s followers are stirring once again . . .

This was AMAZING.

For as long as it is, the story is very tightly woven. Nothing feels wasted. We begin with Azell choosing to hibernate, and when he wakes his complete disorientation to the world at large makes an excellent starting point to exploring the wider world.

I really like the sense of history in this story. The story bounces back and forth, from Azell’s original lifetime to the present, to the great figures that were only legends in Azell’s day, if they were known at all, to the consequences of the war that worked out through over 200 years. Azell might have been a hero, but that just meant his mysterious disappearance had severe consequences for the lands he was supposed to govern.

One more amusing consequence of the time gap is that Azell can’t find anyone who will believe him when he tentatively floats the idea that he’s actually THE Azell known for killing the Dragon Demon King. He has to pose as his own descendant.

The characters are very good. Azell’s struggles go much farther than his need to rebuild his body into something approaching what he had back in the day. In what was to him no more than a moment, everyone he knew was relegated to the pages of history. Some of the longer-lived races actually did survive long enough to meet him again, which is its own kind of awkward, especially when that two-century gap brought major changes in personality. But he never gets bogged down in that contemplation. Character moments are there in spades, and noted, but the focus is first and foremost on the action/adventure.

The friends and comrades Azell picks up are also well-drawn. From the arrogant princess Arietta whose attempted abduction drives much of the early plot to curiosities like Yuren, a human who betrayed the organization that tried to brainwash him and turned terrorist against them in response, everyone has their own struggles and history that drive them. Even people like Carlos, Azell’s friend from the original war, still has a significant role even though most of that is Azell’s memories, or the traces he left behind.

It also delves quite deeply into the villain side. Atein is a wonderful villain. He’s complex, having been revered as a hero before his role in the war—someone so old his ideas of morality are quite questionable by anyone else’s standards. I love his reasoning, and how Azell correctly spots that he’s turned into just the sort of being he used to suppress for being “too dangerous.” Which is Azell’s accurate evaluation of Atein. Powerful, immortal, and trying to bring about a perfect world by various means . . . and his only gaping blind spot is the fact that humanity is not perfect, or perfectable. Any problems must mean the experiment was flawed and something different will need to be tried, because this time it might work and people will live happily and peacefully.

But Atein being off screen for much of the plot means we get plenty of time with the members of the organization he left behind. Old Dragon Demons that Azell remembered, and the newer recruits from children or grandchildren or even humans enlisted to the cause. But every character brings something meaningful to the story, so that contributes to the plot feeling focused despite the length.

Another highlight is the fight scenes. As might be expected, Azell is in conflict from nearly the moment he wakes up (which, honestly, isn’t that much different from before he went to sleep). I love that Azell relies heavily on technique, tricks, and skill over power, because even when he regains much of his power he’s still barely even with many of his enemies. And these techniques work at a level I rarely see described in fiction. Azell’s fighting is heavily biased towards senses—using his own to their fullest and confusing or blocking his enemy’s. Even more intriguing to me, a battle between top-level magicians looks like basically nothing from the outside, because both of them are working on cutting off the other’s spells before they can even start. Actually needing to defend against the spell means that mage has already lost ground.

So the fights are tense, thrilling, and frequent, but rarely repetitive. It’s not unusual for things to turn completely on their head during a battle, with a massive reversal sabotaging a previously predictable or close fight. Honestly this is one of the best books I’ve read period for fight scenes. It’s also good at imbuing a lot of heart into those fights. Some fight for the love of fighting, some for petty status squabbles, some for ideals, and some of the best for the hope and trust they put in another while making the ultimate sacrifice.

Overall this is a very good book I would encourage anyone to read. The translation can be a bit rough in the beginning, but it soon smooths out, and the story is compelling from the first chapter. First thing I’m doing after finishing it is going back to read it again, because WOW. The only downside is that it isn’t finished yet, but at the rate the plot has been going, I’m optimistic that the author has already planned everything out and it’s just a matter of getting there. Highly, highly recommended.

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The Dungeoneers (The Dungeoneers #1)

Title: The Dungeoneers

Author: Jeffery Russell

Series: The Dungeoneers #1

Durham has a quiet life as a city guard, until a case of mistaken identity assigns him to a group of dwarves who are professional dungeon-crawlers. Their hunt for a necromantic artifact leads them deep into an ancient ruin, and the centuries-old secrets hiding within could destroy them all . . .

This was fun. It’s at once both a bit of a spoof on typical fantasy and gaming conventions, and a more serious look at what would happen if dungeons were tackled by a team of professionals instead of a typical random group of adventurers.

I particularly liked the chickens.

The dwarves are clever in more than just the usual ways, too. When Durham reveals he’s an orphan, the collective horror is hilarious. Because being an orphan means he’s obviously set up for some trope about his ancestry or potential to trigger, and that’s the kind of thing that turns a job into an “adventure.”

The ending was also hilarious. Between all the shenanigans that mess up what’s supposed to be the grand finale, and especially the final fate for the villain, the comedy portion was strong.

Overall this is a good read. The personalities of the crew, the traps in the dungeon, and the inadvertent adventure that sneaks up on them was fun. I rate this book Recommended.

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.

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.