Tag Archives: light_novel

Record of Wortenia War #4 (Light Novel)

Title: Record of Wortenia War #4

Author: Ryota Hori

Format: Light Novel

The war has changed yet again: after an unexpected surrender, and Lupis failing to bargain well for her win, Ryouma is simply left to mop up what’s left of the fighting. Of course, he’s intent on eliminating every enemy he can, which leads to an odd showdown with the man responsible for dragging him into the civil war in the first place.

This volume finally reveals more directly what’s been happening back home due to Ryouma’s disappearance. As expected, nobody quite knows what to make of someone of his size and training just up and vanishing—but his grandfather seems to have more knowledge than he should. And the twist here will be interesting to see play out in future volumes (although I really hope his grandfather’s presence manages to avoid the worst outcomes).

Like before, the war changes substantially from something that happens almost immediately: most of the opposition surrenders. The important thing to remember here is that this is a CIVIL war, which leaves most of the participants the option of trying to side with whomever they think will be the winner in an effort to minimize damages to themselves. So rather than focus on the last battle, this book is more concerned with Ryouma trying to tie up the loose ends.

It’s also interesting to me how the issue of reward was handled. Ryouma was nearly single-handedly responsible for Princess Lupis’s win, and nobody can deny that. But that poses a problem for their side, because Ryouma isn’t actually from their country, nor is he particularly interested in supporting them going forward. He’s too mercenary for their tastes. And Lupis, in listening to her own fears, is seeding the creation of the very thing she was trying to stamp out.

It felt a bit jerky to have the war spread out over so many books, but overall it’s a good arc, although probably one best read together. I rate this book Recommended.

Record of Wortenia War #3 (Light Novel)

Title: Record of Wortenia War #3

Author: Ryota Hori

Format: Light Novel

War is a chancy game. And Ryoma is learning this firsthand as a series of incidents and a single battle swing Princess Lupis from being the least influential faction to the one most likely to win. There’s far more involved in a war than who can triumph on the battlefield, but Ryoma is prepared to bring all his cleverness as well as his strength to win.

I was disappointed this volume doesn’t go through the end of the civil war arc. Because of that, it feels shorter even though I don’t think the page count is significantly less. But even though it’s a middle volume, there’s plenty of upsets in the war already. Ryoma has come out swinging, and he’s been effective enough to completely change the game for the major players. But not even he’s immune to unintended consequences, and he’s still forced to make plans based on incomplete information, so there’s never a sense this is going to be easy.

Besides, in the end he’s going up against an army, so making allies who can stand with him on the field is critical.

The assassins bit was mostly funny. Ryoma latches onto the familiar aspects to the assassin clan and completely ignores the usual questions in favor of trying to figure out if they’re summoned like he was. And he’s so happy with his new toys that it will be a blast when he finally gets to show off using them.

The fanservice elements are downplayed compared to a typical light novel but for me it still drags the story down. There’s no reason to strip a girl in front of a crowd when half of the things being checked could have just been done by rolling up a sleeve or similar. I’m also really not fond of the art style for the insert pictures, which has a heavy focus on smudged greyscale. I would prefer cleaner lines and more manga-styled shading. It’s a stupid nitpick but it would help show off the character designs better.

Overall this is a solid middle book for the arc. The next book should finish out the civil war since this one did not, but since this one didn’t leave off on quite as much of a cliffhanger, the wait will be more bearable. I rate this book Recommended.

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.”

 

Ascendance of a Bookworm #3 (Light Novel)

Title: Ascendance of a Bookworm #3

Author: Miya Kazuki

Format: Light Novel

After her worst episode yet, Myne is forced to confront the illness that’s bound to kill her if she doesn’t do something. The problem is that her choices are extremely limited—and the best option for survival involves giving up the one thing she finds she isn’t willing to lose. In the time left to her, she’s determined to do as much as she can . . . and finds that sometimes opportunities come in surprising packages.

After where the last book left off, this one immediately resolves the worst of it, while presenting Myne with a grim prognosis. It’s interesting to see how this struggle has left Myne aware of what’s really important to her—and that isn’t only books.

I like how this book fleshes out Lutz, Benno, Frieda, and other secondary characters too, as they all deal with the news in their own fashion. I also like how Lutz in particular is holding on to his dreams. They are HIS dreams, even though Myne is the reason he’s achieving them.

Even with the serious undertones, there’s plenty of humor. Myne has a tendency to get wild ideas about things she wants to do and go about doing them, disregarding whatever upsets she might cause along the way. This has particular implications closer to the end, when her baptism ceremony shows her something she never thought she’d see.

One thing I haven’t touched on so far are the illustrations. The art is gorgeous, and I particularly appreciate how the male characters also get plenty of focus, which allows me to see what the whole cast looks like instead of just the girls.

I also want to say, for the record, I am completely on Benno’s side when it comes to the Guildmaster. Benno accurately perceived his actions as wanting to take over Benno’s family store, because regardless of what the Guildmaster says, that’s what would have happened. And the fact that the Guildmaster wouldn’t let it go, and then obstructed Benno out of petty spite on various issues because he couldn’t take being told no, and he mostly wants to stop Benno from selling various things because he’s determined Benno runs a CLOTHING store and nothing else . . . I really hope Benno drives him bankrupt.

Overall this closes out the first major arc of the story. The way it sets up the future hints at a lot of amusing situations to come, and it will be fun now that Myne has a whole new set of people to drive crazy. I rate this book Recommended.