By FUNA and Itsuki Akata. Released in Japan as “Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne!” by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Diana Taylor. Adapted by Maggie Cooper.
I first noticed this with Invaders of the Rokujouma?!, but it can also be applied to many other long-running light novel series: the girl who is on the cover of the book is not necessarily the girl with the most to do within the book. Obviously, Mile always has the most to do, it’s her series, but I can’t help but not that poor Reina and Pauline get far less of the plot here. Indeed, even Mile towards the end fades into the background, as this is very much a book about Mavis and about her strengths and weaknesses, weaknesses that she is starting to have a complex about. Before that, we wrap up the dwarves/orc plot with a tense and pitched battle; Mile and company help out some elf researchers (no, different ones) and once again teach guys not to take advantage of them; and Mile returns to the kingdom that was siccing monsters on others and reminds them not to do it… by dressing in another silly costume.
As I said last time, the Crimson Vow are getting pretty famous, as are their abilities. In particular Mile’s ridiculous storage magic. As such, when they agree to work with another party to guard the elven researchers, the other team assumes Mile will be carrying everything, because she can. This is a bad assumption, especially as the researchers paying them DON’T know about Mile’s abilities (at first). That said, it does show off one of the better aspects of this series – it very much loves putting arrogant men in their place and humiliating them for daring to underestimate or be sexist asses around our heroines. However, if, like several other male teams we’ve seen so far, they learn their lesson and proceed to be good and helpful teammates, then the Crimson Vow lets up and stops the abuse – particularly after the team saves Mavis from certain death.
The back half of the book deals with Mavis’ feelings of inadequacy compared to the rest of the Crimson Vow. Mile is Mile, of course. Reina and Pauline have both gotten brilliant at magic. But there’s only so far you can go with a sword without the dreaded “years of experience” that Mavis doesn’t have. We’ve seen her in the past abusing Mile’s stimulants to give her extra power, and she does so again here, much to Mile’s fury. She also, as the cliffhanger shows us, has a little bit of the chuuni in her, despite being 18 years old – she wants to save the girl and protect her against impossible odds not because it’s the right thing to do, or because she thinks she can win, but because it’s really cool. As intendent, I feel sympathy for Mavis while also laughing at her, and I hope she learns a bit of a lesson in the next book. (Also, stop taking magical steroids!)
A few minor hiccups here and there (there was a pedophilia joke about an orphanage that was simply bad, there’s a “despite being strongly attracted to another woman I’m not gay!” bit, and the section with Mile terrifying the bad kingdom was pretty weak) does not stop this from being another solid entry in this series. go get it.