Title: The Book Eating Magician
Author: Mekenlo / Translator: Rainbow Turtle
Status: 353 chapters (Ongoing)
Theodore Miller wants nothing more than to be a magician. And he’s brilliant at studying, insatiably curious to learn new things, and dedicated to his schooling. That still hasn’t stopped him from failing the last year of university multiple times due to insufficient power to complete the practical exams. About to set off on his last repetition, Theodore finds a mysterious book in the library—one that bonds itself to his hand and demands to be fed books, or it will eat him instead. But the books Gluttony eats also offer small bonuses to Theodore . . .
The translation quality is excellent. I found almost zero mistakes in hundreds of chapters, and the text flows very nicely. This is a very readable edition, and I hope that if it ever gets an official translation it will sound as good.
Yes, there are a lot of chapters. But this does not feel anything like that long. The chapters are relatively short, and perhaps due to the serial format, something is always happening. Whether it’s Theodore’s initial experiments with the grimoire Gluttony, his clever approach to enemies, or the times the story pulls back to spotlight someone else showing off awesome power, something is always happening.
Theodore is finally able to rise through ranks he never hoped to reach before, but some of his enemies are so ridiculous there’s no way he can overpower them. So most of his fights are more about being smart about how he’ll use the various tricks he has available. And even then, sometimes it’s just about hanging on long enough for someone else to rescue him.
Theodore’s actual magical power, and sensitivity to magic, are terrible. Gluttony can boost him, if he feeds it the right books, but he’s still terrible for a long time. The scene where someone tries to help boost his sensitivity is funny because no one can believe he’s reacting so badly—everyone assumed his base level was much higher. I also find it interesting that it’s his sensitivity, more than his power, that’s the real block. He could buy things to increase power, but that doesn’t do him any good if he can’t use the power well.
I also really like Theo’s attitude. Before Gluttony, he’s persistent in the face of insurmountable odds. He just picks himself up to try again every time he fails, doesn’t complain, and studies harder. After Gluttony, he’s aware he’s only succeeding due to a “cheat,” and remains humble. He’s certainly aware of his own capabilities, but he’s polite, respectful, and far more interested in learning something new than showing off. His encounter with a bitter master of summoning magic is a good example: the man dislikes Theo for being stronger, but Theo’s interest in his life’s work despite the poor results eventually thaws him, and together they manage to work the kind of spell the master spent his whole life wanting to see. Also amusing to me was one part where Theodore is tackling an 1800 page book and has stayed up far too late reading the first 1050 pages . . . and his reaction is, only 750 pages to go! Onward! Which as someone who frequently loses sleep due to reading amused me greatly.
The secondary characters are also fascinating. I love that Theodore decides to trust Vince, the one professor who supported him as a student, with the truth about why can can suddenly surpass his old limits. That changes their relationship, but Vince remains a staunch supporter in every way he can, and Theodore respects him. Other favorites include Randolph, a mercenary Theodore met who becomes a friend, and Orta, the assassin’s assassin, head of the White Tower.
I like how the story circles back to characters. Someone will get focus for a while, then fade into the background, then pop up again later with some changes according to how they’ve pursued their own paths in the meantime. This keeps things fairly focused even though a long story, as new characters come in slowly and develop over time.
I also find it amusing that even though Theo is technically gaining a string of girls who all like him, every time it’s about to get serious with one of them something happens. (My favorite is Gluttony interfering with a ‘Burning Carnal Desire’ curse and Theo reflexively attacking the cause.)
This is my first real experience with reading web novels, but it’s been so good I’m eager to look into more. The blend of action, adventure, and magic in this story is a whole lot of fun, and the chapters are so short it’s hard to stop. I rate this series Highly Recommended.