By Surume Enoki and ttl. Released in Japan as “Rutile Quartz no Taikan: Ō no Tanjō” by DRE Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Alice Camp.
This is another book that I enjoyed, but was not wowed by. It’s always hard to review those titles. “This was pretty good, all things considered” is not exactly a blurb you can put on a back cover. This is a good coming of age royal fantasy series. If isekai are about the hero gaining cool powers and a harem of hot babes, then the small but notable genre of “military/royal fantasy” usually involves the hero being either royalty or the close advisor to royalty, and instead of a harem there’s a relationship between the royal and their advisor. Also, redheads feature heavily. I’m not sure why. In any case, this is squarely in that genre. Slain, the new king, is a decent guy, proves a quick study, has some military ideas that no one there has considered, and gets the girl. It’s a feel good sort of book. That said, nothing here is surprising, except maybe one thing that I’ll get to later. It’s “pretty good”, but not in a bad way. If that helps.
Slaine is a young man whose mother has just passed away. He never knew his father, so is rather surprised when suddenly a royal escort appears in his small village. It turns out that his mother had once been a servant in the royal palace, and left after a dalliance with the King. What’s more, the entire royal family has just been killed in a fire, leaving Slaine as the heir apparent. Needless to say, he feels he is not remotely ready. But his mother was a scribe, meaning he can read and write due to her teachings, and he has read history books. He also has nobles who are willing to be patient with him, and a talented aide, Monica, at his side. He’s actually getting the hang of things faster than expected. So provided another neighboring country doesn’t declare war and invade them, they should be fine. Oh dear.
The thing that interested me most in this was the way magic was used. At the start of the book I wondered if it wouldn’t have any magic at all, and just be an alternate-world royal book, but that was unlikely to sell to a light novel publisher. So yes, there is magic, but it’s not a constant in this world. Only about one in 30 people have magic at all, and even then it’s not super powerful. Neither Slaine nor Monica have any magic. We see water magicians around the castle, and they use their magic powers to do things like fill barrels, or clean. This of course also leads to Slaine’s idea on how to win the battle against the foreign country invading them, which works well enough, though everyone’s praise of his idea reminds me of those isekai books where people are stunned at the idea of crop rotation. I also wish we’d gotten a bit more with Monica, Slaine’s aide, who has a chapter or two at the back that quickly shows why she went from “uncaring and emotionless baron’s daughter” to “please take me”, but you get the sense it was written after the fact when someone pointed out we knew next to nothing about her.
So, this wasn’t great, it wasn’t terrible. It was pretty good. It passed the time. If there’s another volume (it’s a Drecom book, so this is it for the moment) I’ll read more.