Tag Archives: highly recommended

The Death Mage That Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time (Web Novel)

Title: The Death Mage That Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time

Author: Densuke

Translator: Yoshi

Chapters: 1-178 (ongoing)

Location: https://lightnovelbastion.com/project.php?p=248

Amamiya Hiroto has had a terrible life followed by a senseless death when terrorists bomb his school field trip. Then a god intercepts their souls and offers them the opportunity to be born again in another world, with powers and everything. He accepts. And the god mistakes him with another student who has nearly the same name, so Amamiya gets a second life even worse than his first since all of his powers and good luck went to someone else. All he has is a gigantic mana pool, but no ability in magic; he ends up as an experimental test subject until he dies. Now on his third life, and under curses with the intention of making him die quickly, he’s determined to live as long as possible and carve out happiness for himself.

Of course, now that he’s a Dhampir called Vandelieu in a world where most people consider Dhampirs to be monsters, he’s not going to have it easy. The only things he’s got going for him are an absurdly large mana pool, the possibility of re-acquiring his unique death-aspect magic, and the memories of his previous lives.

This was amazing. The story undoubtedly has dark moments, but it’s also packed with humor, so it’s not this grinding horror story about all the awful things Vandeleiu suffers in his various lives.

At a high level, I adore the humor. Vandeleiu is mostly like a normal lonely kid who just wants people to stop picking on him, and to make lots of friends. But he’s also going more and more insane, because he’s completely out of touch with “normal.” It’s so bad that the various races that live in the city with him all get along very well because “compared to him, we’re all normal.” His friends put up with his eccentricities. But his enemies, who don’t have the full picture and refuse to talk to him or try to see it his way, see this as signs he’s dangerous, so they push harder, which makes him do even more to protect himself.

Those other races are a high point. From the very beginning of his third life, Vandelieu finds more welcome from the monsters and the half-monster species than he does the humans (Vampires excepted, as they see Dhampirs as something to eliminate), so he’s got a very open mind towards thinking beings. So the story really digs into culture and lifestyle of various races, and Vandeleiu’s interactions with them. This is also somewhat contributing to normal humans thinking he’s insane, as the cultural standards for these races tends to differ quite a lot.

But I like that the differences are more grounded than “Ghouls sleep around a lot.” There are valid biological reasons why their culture built up that way, and when Van finds a way to address some of those biological issues, their culture starts changing as a result.

It’s also telling that for everything that he’s suffered, Amamiya/Vandelieu never completely breaks. His first life had him in an abusive home and a situation that basically never allowed him to make friends, but he still impulsively sacrifices himself to try to save a classmate who can’t even remember his name. His second life is spent deliberately crippled by the scientists who treat him as nothing more than a lab animal with a unique magic, but when he breaks free at last he only kills the researchers and guards, and frees and heals the other experimental subjects. And his third life, which begins with curses intended to make him die or commit suicide, also has a caring mother and then lots of friends who unconditionally support him and give him the strength to keep going.

The chapters where some of the other students are digging into his background are really powerful, as they’re finally realizing why he was the way he was and realizing it may not be too late to try to reason with him—but they can’t find anyone who treated him kindly enough to send to have that discussion. They’re also too paranoid to recognize that he’s only targeting people who are actively trying to kill him in the current world, so any messenger is actually likely to work as long as they aren’t hostile.

I also really like how the chapters will occasionally break away from Van to show the lingering impact of his life on Origin (the second world) or the perspective of various gods who are tangled up in this. Unexpected consequences arise, like the Eighth Guidance, a terrorist organization/cult formed from the experiment subjects he freed, who recognize that he was the only person they can trust, and have devoted themselves to carrying out what they think was his will.

There is a harem aspect to this story eventually, but this is one of the few books I’ve read where I’ve felt that aspect is well-done. Vandeleiu himself is too young to really be interested in girls, and he’s grateful to anyone who wants to be friends. In fact there’s a hilarious sequence when he meets his first Arachne (a woman with the lower body of a spider) and tells her she’s beautiful . . . because he really, really likes her biceps. Having been on the smaller, weaker side in all his lives for various reasons, Vandeleiu appreciates muscle. He completely ignores curves. (The fact that he implements a bodybuilding contest later on—for both genders, since he just likes muscle—was a lot of fun.) And all of the women so far have been people first, and potential wives second.

Speaking of beauty, though, I also like that Vandelieu himself comes off as more creepy than beautiful. His face is expressionless and he has eyes like a dead fish (it’s unclear if this is because of his race or his trauma, but indications are more on the side of trauma), waxy skin, and a small build. Combined it means many people mistake him as a doll instead of a person. And this is before he does things like use his astral body to grow extra heads because that’s the easiest way to cast dozens of spells at once. (And the insanity is probably why he doesn’t just stop at one or two extra heads—when each head can cast a spell, and you have THAT much mana, why not make a few dozen? Watching his enemies freak out is hilarious.)

Overall this is a very good read, and I hope it one day gets officially licensed so that it will be easier to support the author. Chapter 178 basically finishes off a book (minus appendices) so at least I’m at the end of the major arc while waiting for new chapters to arrive. I rate this Highly Recommended.

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God of Crime

Title: God of Crime

Author: Han Yeoul

Translator: Rainbow Turtle

Status: 165 Chapters (Complete)

Link: https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/god-of-crime
(Please note the site is temporarily taking this novel offline, but it can likely still be read at web.archive.org)

Seo Tae-hyuk was framed for murder, convicted, spent the last ten years in prison, and is now about to die. He has no idea why, but he’s angry he never got a chance. Now that chance has come in the form of a demon. Tae-hyuk wakes up fifteen years in the past, with all the memories of his future life and an opportunity to actually become the God of Crime that people called him . . .

This was amazing. It’s mostly a crime drama, with a very tiny amount of magic that drives the entire plot. Because Tae-hyuk returns to his past self in possession of a mirror with demonic powers, a mirror that gives him the ability to acquire any and all criminal-related skills and apply them at superhuman levels.

Of course he never INTENDED to become the very thing he raged so hard against in prison.

It starts with accidentally learning a Robbery skill. From there his unintentional kleptomania expands into things like forgeries, disguises, violence, and so on. And the list. The list of criminals Seo Tae-hyuk met in prison (or heard about on the news while in prison) and the crimes they committed. He can stop them . . . but his methods decidely lean towards less legal methods.

It doesn’t take long for his moderate goals of getting his family out of debt and giving them a happy life snowball into something he might not be able to stop.

I love how it wraps up at the end. The revelations about why he had been framed, and what that murder was about fit in much better than I expected. I love how he keeps progressing into ever more ridiculous powers, but hesitates at the very last, as he finally sees in himself an emerging person he’s not sure he can live with. And then what he ultimately decides to do with his life and his abilities.

If there’s any weak point, it’s that his brother feels totally unnecessary to the plot. His sister’s ongoing development are a nice foil to the increasing darkness of Tae-hyuk’s life. And it’s fun how some of the more obvious twists are handled, like his sister falling in love with a detective who’s desperate to learn the real identity of the Phantom (who is of course Tae-hyuk).

Overall if you’ve got any interest in crime dramas crossed with a bit of fantasy, I would suggest giving this one a go. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

The Lost Continent (Wings of Fire #11)

Title: The Lost Continent

Author: Tui T. Sutherland

Series: Wings of Fire #11

Blue is a SilkWing looking forward to a peaceful life. Under the rule of the Hivewing Queen, life in the Hive is predictable. Safe. But then his sister Luna has an unusual Metamorphosis Day, and suddenly everything Blue thought he knew is turned upside-down. Is it all right to break the rules? Won’t everything go better if he just tries to get along?

This was another excellent book in a strong series. It starts a new arc here, so new readers could jump right in, although the end also ties in with the teaser from the last book.

To most readers, the dystopian nature of Blue’s society is evident from the very beginning, although he’s under the mistaken assumption that everyone sees the world the same way he does. Blue is too nice, too agreeable, too obedient to recognize the slavery the SilkWings are suffering under the Hivewing rule. But that’s Blue’s problem—other SilkWings, like Luna, are more aware.

On the other hand, this is also what allows him to befriend Cricket, a Hivewing. Cricket is one of my favorite dragons in the series. She’s too intelligent for the role she was assigned in life, and her curiosity, boredom, and intellect have resulted in basically a mad scientist. She knows all about various chemicals and isn’t afraid to use them. And she has some rather unusual properties for a Hivewing, which make me suspect she’s either from a different line than the current Queen or has some non-Hivewing ancestor.

I like how the new dragon species are totally different from the ones we’ve met so far. The Hivewings are like wasps, the Silkwings are like moths/butterflies, and the Leafwings have plant-like characteristics.

Overall this was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see where we go from here. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

The Scroll of Kings (The Lost Books #1)

Title: The Scroll of Kings

Author: Sarah Prineas

Series: The Lost Books #1

Alex loves books, and is determined to be a librarian. No matter what his father wants. But something is killing librarians, and the books are restless. Soon Alex has more to worry about than keeping his job . . .

This was a lot of fun. Between books that have their own kind of life, curses that can call out the things inside a book and use them to attack, and a young man who may not have liked the sword but at least knows how to use it, the crazy events just keep piling up.

I was less fond of the queen’s side of the story, although Kenneret looks like she might become a more interesting character in the next book. Her struggle to be her own person was just less compelling to me, as most of what we see is her thinking to herself, and a few interactions with her uncle. Alex already knows what he wants, even if he’s not sure the exact shape of it, and he has more concrete struggles to realize his dreams.

And zoology books spawning ACTUAL LIONS is awesome.

But this book does set up a series, so with the initial setup out of the way, the fun should only continue to accelerate. I’m very much looking forward to the next in the series. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Autumn King (Of Cats and Dragons #5)

Title: Autumn King

Authors: Carol E. Leever and Camilla Ochlan

Series: Of Cats and Dragons #5

Omen and his companions have finally reached the Faerie lands in search of Khylar. But these are realms with numerous dangers for mortals, and when he finally discovers Khylar he finds the truth of their journey has been shrouded in more layers than he expected.

Although this in some senses concludes the adventure that’s been building from Summer’s Fall through Hollow Season, it’s not like everything manages the neat ending Omen was expecting when he set out. I like the layers to the story. Even before now, Omen has had hints this isn’t as simple as it appeared. And once he learns, the right answer is nebulous too.

The characters are fantastic. From the weird and wonderful dwellers of the Autumn Lands (Puppy!) to the comfortable banter between Omen, Templar, and the rest of the party, there was always something new to appreciate. The hints about Devestation’s past are especially intriguing. Or watching Nikki come into his own. The cast has been slowly but steadily expanding and everybody’s got such interesting histories and futures (as hinted by a certain someone early on).

And this wouldn’t be a proper sequel without gut-busting humor. The last chapter is particularly good, but there are moments throughout. Whether it’s Tyrin’s adventures down a mousehole or Dev’s internal commentary on events or the zingers Lilyth inadvertantly sets herself up for, even the most serious bits can’t stay totally dark.

And Templar, among others, learns the perils inherent in saving the world.

Templar shifted uncomfortably in his seat, his eyes downcast. He twisted one of the rings on his left hand. “He told me that if I was now in the world saving business, he had a number of jobs for me to do, things to fix, people to save, towns to liberate. And then he handed me a list — a long list.” He scowled at Omen. “They’re like chores, Omen. Lots of chores! It’s horrifying.”

Overall this is another excellent chapter in what will hopefully be a long-running series. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Dragon with a Deadly Weapon (Fantasy & Forensics #10)

Title: Dragon with a Deadly Weapon

Author: Michael Angel

Series: Fantasy & Forensics #10

Dayna and her friends are running out of time. Between the rapidly unraveling situation with Greyson Archer back on Earth and the threat of the forces of Dark in Andeluvia, she’s been stretched to her limit. Prophecies predict her failure. Prophecies she has every reason to believe will be accurate. But she’s also standing on a split path of fate, and her actions may be what controls the future . . .

I received this book for free, and was asked to provide an honest review.

This was the perfect cap to the series. There’s still a bit of crime drama, but there’s a lot more on the fantasy-action side of things. Yes, the big thrilling showdowns are spectacular—but the heart of the book is the relationships Dayna has built with all of her friends. Including some surprise reappearances.

Although the ending TOTALLY made me cry, the humor is still very much on point:

“Finally, thou hast come to understand the need to perish gloriously!” The drake enthusiastically nudged Liam’s side. “See? I told thee that Dayna would come around in her own good time!”

Or Dayna’s negotiation with the unicorns for assistance. Windkey is still very much himself . . . and Dayna’s HORRIFIED to find she’s sounding like Zenos.

I am pleased at least one of Dayna’s friends finally gets to see Andeluvia. I have hopes the other might someday, just because imagining the reaction is too much fun.

And the griffins proved once again why they are my favorite creature in this series.

Overall it’s hard to say too much because I don’t want to spoil any of the really neat twists. If you’ve liked the series at all you owe it to yourself to read this one. If you haven’t read any of them, start at the beginning, because this book picks up little bits from all the previous and ties them together. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (Manga)

Title: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
Format: Manga
Volumes 1-7

I’m not going to bother recapping the story review since I just posted the first three novel reviews, and the manga so far only touches those three volumes.

In terms of story, it’s impressively similar. There are certainly bits dropped, but it’s mostly Rimuru’s technical explanations of various matters (which I enjoy, but I realize not everyone might), and there’s some slight reordering of events to make the trimmed version cohesive. So if this is the only version you care about, you’re still getting pretty much everything. And the visual gags can add some additional humor.

The art is fantastic. This story was going to be a challenge to draw purely due to the number of monster characters, but the visuals are for the most part very good. I think the lizardmen are the weakest, but even they have recognizable differences in design so characters are visually distinctive. Of course Benimaru and Souei were my favorites (the panel showcasing Souei’s smiles made me laugh so hard . . . He really does look super irritated when he’s grinning).

Rimuru’s human form is also spectacular. I like how androgynous he is—he still thinks in somewhat male ways due to his past life, but the body he mimics was originally female, and in any case is genderless when he mimics it since slimes have no gender. So the scenes where he’s being dressed up by the girls, or where he’s pulling on a suit and tie for treaty talks both look natural.

Kodansha’s not skimping on the release, either. Not all of the volumes have color pages up front, but the ones that do are presented in color, which I appreciate because not all publishers will.

My absolute favorite thing about the manga, though, and the one item that absolutely makes them worth buying if you already have and like the light novels, is Veldora’s diary entry at the end of each volume. Did you ever wonder what happened to Veldora after Rimuru swallowed him with the promise of both of them working on the seal? The novels leave you to assume Veldora is diligently throwing his all into breaking free . . . and his diary quickly dispels that notion. The incredibly bored dragon has found a number of new sources of entertainment—Rimuru’s memories (especially his human ones), whatever Rimuru is up to at the moment, and, eventually, Ifrit. (Poor Ifrit.) Add in a bit of meddling from the Great Sage (or Veldora trying to use the Great Sage for his own ends) and it was impossible for me to get through more than a few sentences without laughing. And oh, is Rimuru in for a surprise whenever he finally gets Veldora out . . .

Overall, I would consider this a solid investment, whether you’re only intending to follow the manga or whether you want it as a companion to the anime or light novel. I rate this series Highly Recommended.