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.