By Maito Ayamine and Cierra. Released in Japan as “Shinigami ni Sodaterareta Shoujo wa Shikkoku no Tsurugi wo Mune ni Idaku” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sylvia Gallagher.
Generally speaking, if you’re trying not to spoil yourself when reading a light novel, there are several things you need to do. Avoiding covers is almost impossible, but you can certainly avoid the color inserts, which tend to spoil. Don’t read the author’s afterword till you’ve finished the book, of course, as it often asks readers what they thought of the plot twist. And, of course, try not to read the table of contents, because chapter titles frequently spoil. And so (spoiling here, sorry), when I saw that the last chapter before the epilogue in this book was called “The Girl Defeated”, I knew what was going to happen. It wasn’t a big surprise, the series ends with the next book, so there had to be SOME point where Olivia loses a fight, just so she’s not all-powerful. That said, I was surprised anyway. The Girl Defeated is an accurate chapter title, but the chapter itself ends very happily. It’s the Epilogue that kills you.
We’re finally at the big battle between Olivia and Felix… well, OK, there are a few other big battles before that that don’t involve our heroes, but honestly, most of them feel like they’re padding out the book, and resolving a romance by having a superior officer say “hey, clueless guy, get married to the girl who has an obvious crush on you” is possibly the most pathetic thing I’ve seen in this series. The important bit, though, is that Olivia’s army is finally losing badly, mostly as the other side are simply better, more experienced soldiers. So she decides to gamble it all on a one-on-one fight with Felix, sending Ashton back to base and taking Claudia and a few others to forge a path to Felix. Their battle is cool, well-balanced, and a fair fight. Alas, this world is currently being taken over by an evil Dark God, and he interrupts things to gloat at Felix and generally be evil.
I have grown used to the fact that this series is very good at writing instant gratification, with scenes that work well as you read them but fall apart the moment you try to think more deeply about the subject. This is not a bad thing – popcorn entertainment is perfectly valid. But it can be hard to review. I did appreciate that (spoilers again, sorry) after spending the entire series searching for him, Olivia is finally reunited with Z right as she’s about to die – I get the sense that he wanted to let her grow at her own pace till he had to intervene. The whole “now I will teach you the ultimate final move” ending is pure shonen, but honestly it’s a delight seeing Olivia’s face as she’s finally reunited with her “father”. Less delightful is that pesky epilogue – I don’t expect a permanent death, as this series is not that dark despite its title, but it certainly ends the book on a sour note.
So great stuff, provided you don’t look too deeply, and provided you let your eyes glaze over whenever a male captain and his female adjutant have a conversation with each other. Tune in next time for the final book.