By Zappon and Yasumo. Released in Japan as “Shin no Nakama ja Nai to Yuusha no Party wo Oidasaretanode, Henkyou de Slow Life Surukoto ni Shimashita” by Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Dale DeLucia.
The review I did with the last volume indicated that I expected the main thrust of this one to be a big battle between Van and Ruti, and Ruti’s smiling presence on the cover art might seem to indicate that she is victorious. Which is kind of true, but it’s rather remarkable how little Ruti is in this book. the bulk of the story here is spent trying to do two things: 1) get Van to actually listen to other’s advice and be a bit less sociopathic, and b) have him not find out this is where Ruti is. They’re unsuccessful on the second one but manage to mostly succeed on the first one, because of course this book isn’t about the hero, or even the former hero, it’s about that guy who was banished from the hero’s party and living a quiet life in the countryside. As such, it’s Red/Gideon who saves the day, by going back to his roots.
Van has temporarily left Zoltan, but he’ll be back very soon, and they need a way to try to get through to him. Their instinct is to try to go through his two most stubborn allies. Red will try to talk to Ljubo, the corrupt cardinal from the Church who is trying to guide Van on the hero’s path, and Rit will attempt to reason with Lavender, the killer fairy who has a severely maladjusted idea of what love is. Both these negotiations go fairly well, all things considered, perhaps the first one better than the second. Unfortunately, things completely go to hell when a girl is accidentally led into danger by a fairy dragon, and Van thinks that, even though the fairy dragon has apologized and the girl herself doesn’t want it, the only solution is murder. And unfortunately, his blessing has decided to stop speaking to him…
The best part of this book, as I hinted above, is Red going back to being Gideon temporarily and being the Guide for the newest Hero. He realizes that the best way to try to break Van is to make him MORE emotional, not less, and this actually works, as eventually Van gets so angry and frustrated that he simply snaps, which makes it much easier to fight him, as he doesn’t really do anything other than “attack head on” and rely on healing powers. That said, the book also shows signs of the back half being rushed. Ljubo, the cardinal who is persuaded by Red and his allies to dissuade Van from destroying Zoltan, ends up being brutally murdered by Van… and then is literally never mentioned or heard about again. I get that he was a bad guy, but still, at least acknowledge that Van did a murder.
the next book in the series promises Van aftermath, though, so it may come up there. That said, I do hope we get back to Red and Rit wuv wuv time, as while there was some of that here it wasn’t really enough. The quiet life is the point.