Tag Archives: 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.

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.”

 

I’m the Evil Lord of an Intergalactic Empire! (Web Novel)

Title: I’m the Evil Lord of an Intergalactic Empire!

Author: Mishima Yomu/Wai

Volumes 1-4 (series ongoing)

Link: https://www.novelupdates.com/series/im-the-evil-lord-of-an-intergalactic-empire/

After a miserable life and untimely death, a man is offered a second life. He reincarnates as Liam Sera Banfield, who inherits his parent’s house as a Count at a young age. But believing this is going to be a blessed second life, Liam somehow continues to turn misfortune into fortune, all the while holding on to his real goal, which is to be an evil overlord. Somehow everyone misunderstands him as a righteous young lord.

This is caught my interest for the usual reasons—it’s a bit of a fantasy/sci-fi hybrid, with the misunderstanding between Liam and his noncorperal “guide” one of the biggest plot drivers. But it does one thing I really like, which is the key misunderstanding. Liam doesn’t know his previous life and this one are under attack by his guide, who is a demonic force that feeds on evil and is hoping to crush him utterly. Instead, Liam believes the lie that this is going to be a better life—and his faith, and most especially his gratitude, end up turning the guide’s deceptions into reality.

This IS a blessed life for Liam. Because he’s always thankful.

I can safely say I never saw THAT plot twist coming. The fact that his gratitude literally tears the guide to shreds is a funny side note the reader is privy to that Liam can’t see. The guide grows ever more desperate to stop Liam from being thankful to him, but since every scheme ends up benefiting Liam in the end, Liam sees it all as machinations to bless him, and responds with even more thanks.

Other jokes fall more in line with Liam’s utterly failed attempts to be an evil overlord. He likes doing things like raising taxes, but since he raises taxes with no idea how he’s going to spend it (he just wanted to tax people), and lets his far more competent staff invest those extra funds, it ends up working out that his staff is spending those taxes to better the lives of the people. So even though he’s raising taxes, he still enjoys a lot of support among his populace.

On the other hand, his idea that he’s an evil lord allows him to make the sensible decisions in all sorts of places where stories usually have protagonists falter—like cutting off his parents, who passed off all their debt to him but come back to relieve him of his future earnings.

I’m not fond of the harem aspects. The major girls all end up fairly brainless in their pursuit of him. I did like how his attempt to win Rosetta came back to bite him—he wanted her simply because she said no to him, but once they’re engaged it starts looking like he’s the one trapped in a relationship he didn’t want.

Overall this is a light, fun read. I hope future novels do more with his friendship with Kurt, and give him more friends who aren’t just trying to get in his pants. I rate these books Recommended.

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.

Ascendance of a Bookworm #2 (Light Novel)

Title: Ascendance of a Bookworm #2

Author: Miya Kazuki

Format: Light Novel

Myne has taken the first major step towards realizing her dream of creating books: securing the venture capital to fund her creation of paper. With a few months to create a prototype, she and Lutz need to try to recreate the fuzzy steps she remembers. But Lutz is growing suspicious of how much knowledge she possesses . . .

I’m going to say up front that you should probably have the third book on hand for when you finish this one, because the cliffhanger is brutal.

Myne is still sickly and weak, but with Lutz’s help, she’s able to do more. A lot of this book is the process of creating a sort of paper from scratch—and it’s a lot of work. Much of the rest is her deepening relationship with Lutz.

I really like how Lutz eventually confronts her, and how that resolves. From his perspective, he’s trying to do the right thing, but he has no idea what he’s actually asking her to do. For Myne, it’s her chance to come clean, to have one person with whom she has no secrets, which makes him an even better ally than her supportive family.

I also like how the supporting characters are being built up. Benno is a merchant through and through, but you can see him warming up to them over the course of the book, and not just because they stand to make him a lot of money. Otto gets a lot more development too. His relationship with his wife is hilarious, especially because Myne totally picks up on the subtext of why she’s getting kicked out.

Overall this is building on the strengths of the first book, and expanding the world as Myne develops the strength to move around more in it. I rate this book Recommended.