By Ichirou Sakaki and Tera Akai. Released in Japan by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Kevin Steinbach.
In general, authors do not read my reviews and listen to my suggestions, mostly as they’re Japanese and the book has already come out several years ago (and also because I rarely have anything constructive to recommend). But sometimes I can’t help but read a book and think to myself “wow, the author listened to me!” even if it’s not true. Such a book is this volume of Bluesteel Blasphemer, which I called ‘highly adequate’ last time. It still is, but the harem stuff I didn’t like is lessened (though watch out for the ‘tee hee everyone thinks he’s a lolicon’ scene at the start), Yukinari is getting more character development and a better class of villain going up against him, there’s some well thought out setup for the final book, and most of all, after suggesting last time that Berta needed a hobby, she gets one here. I wasn’t expecting it to be crack sniper, but hey, needs must as the devil drives.
The girl on the cover is Angela, a Holy Knight who’s there to be even more zealous and driven and to show off how much Arlen has changed, despite his still being mostly a jerk. She mostly faces off against Veronika, a former princess turned mercenary whose past… absolutely does not catch up with her in any way, so I assume that it’s being saved for Book 4. It does give her interesting backstory, though, which I suspect is its main function. Yukinari, meanwhile, is having to adjust his thinking, as he’s been solely devoted to protecting himself and Dasa and that’s about it. Now that he has to protect two villages and the denizens thereof, his fighting style has to change, and he has to rely on others far more. He seems to come to terms with this fairly quickly, though he’s of the stoic, no real personality style of Japanese light novel heroes, so heavy angst is not really going to come into it.
Berta’s development really pleased me, and is the highlight of the book. She’d been there in the first book as the sacrifice who wasn’t, and then in the second feeling rather useless and trying to offer her body to Yukinari mostly as she had no idea what to do with her life. You got the sense she was in the book to be the large-breasted option in the harem. But here Yukinari tries to make a sniper rifle, and because of its awkward design (he’s working from memories of his past in Japan, and is not as familiar with this type of gun) neither he nor Dasa are really very good with it. But Berta, who has never shot anything in her life and thus has no bad habits to overcome, turns out to be a crack shot… provided she’s shooting non-living targets. She’s just too sweet. Fortunately the threat of her friends being killed and getting shouted at by Arlen help steel her resolve, and she’s able to save part of the day. She also, after a talk with Veronika, realizes that hey, she is doing all this for Yukinari as she loves him, rather than because of a misguided sense of duty. Honestly, she should have been on the cover.
So overall, a bit better than the previous two books, and worth your time if you’re following the series. That said, I’m ready for it to come to an end in Book 4, which will feature the most obvious villain of all time – so obvious, in fact, that the author assumes in his afterword that we’ve already guessed who she is. I’ll be here to read it.