By Hiroyuki Morioka and Toshihiro Ono. Released in Japan by Hayakawa Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Giuseppe di Martino.
This volume takes us right back to the start of the series… and also cuts its ties with it, making it clear that whatever future Jint might have, it’s not going to be on the planet he was born on, or even with the guys he hung out with in college (or its equivalent). Unfortunately, it’s hard to get past the fact that he is taking on the sins of his father in many ways. That and his future lies with Lafier, but everyone and their brother knows that, from his former crew (who he reunites with in this book) to the people who raised him (who at least reconcile with him), the latter going to far as to essentially give Lafier their blessing. As for Lafier herself, even she admits that she’s just hanging around in this book – she’s here because Jint is, but her future absolutely lies in space, and just thinking about how she would want to do things she can’t is making her envious.
The cover art has the two of them looking quite cute, and that fits with the tone of this volume. After the prison drama and watching Jint suffer last time, here there’s a breather, as he has to deal with his world, which is in rebellion once more, and harboring soldiers from the enemy. He’s also trying to accrue some staff so that he can start earning money to pay back the massive debt he’s increasing – Lafier is just fine with him borrowing more and more, but then Lafier seems to be just fine with most everything in this book. This actually becomes a bit of a character point, as when Jint tries to recruit his old friend Durin, who rejects the offer because, frankly, he finds Abh creepy. He’s not wrong, to be honest – we’ve gotten used to the Abh’s tendency to banter in the face of danger in previous books, but to those on the outside, the fact that there’s a total lack of anger or rage can be unsettling.
The other half of the book sees Sobash and the rest of Lafier’s former crew take part in a mock battle which, coincidentally, involves getting to Jint’s home system and having the battle there – its remoteness from everything being a plus. Unfortunately, Martinh decides to fire at one of the ships – which does basically no damage – and the other ship fires back what they assume s also a shot that will cause no damage – it in fact causes a fair bit, though we’re not told how much. The reason we’re not told is that the planet makes it very clear that, in exchange for returning nominally to the Empire, Jint himself has to vow to never even go near the star system again. It’s total rejection, and the fact that it’s coming from the couple who brought him up hurts a bit.
Still, by now Jint, who’s always been a bit weird, is a lot more Abh than he’d perhaps like to think – and his future is definitely in space, with Lafier, though they’re still no closer to being a real couple except that everyone except them knows they are. This also brings this ‘arc’ to an end, though we’re not getting a ‘________ of the Stars’ title change this time. As for when we’ll get the next book here… not sure. I suspect they were licensed in chunks of three, so sales may need to tick up a bit. Till then, this is a good, if low on action, volume.