By Toru Taba and Falmaro. Released in Japan as “Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saisei Jutsu ~Sou da, Baikoku Shiyou~” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jessica Lange.
While the word “treason” in the title is technically accurate, I feel that it might do a disservice to the genius prince, who is not nearly as bad as that title makes him out to be. Sure, he wants to pass the leadership of the country off to someone else, and is totally fine with that someone else being another country, but this does not mean he’d do it if it meant that the people in the country would suffer. Instead this book is along the lines of a few other LNs featuring “genius” characters, who are always brilliant but not quite brilliant enough to stop misunderstandings or prevent things happening elsewhere that destroy their clever plans. Which is good, as otherwise Prince Wein might be insufferable. As it is, he’s a pretty likeable guy, though it helps that he has a beautiful childhood friend/aide who is willing to stick potatoes up his nose when he screws up.
In the mountainous and remote Kingdom of Natra, the old King is dying, and the Prince Regent, Wein, is running the country. To his subjects, court, and little sister, he’s the perfect thoughtful and intelligent King. To Ninym, his childhood friend, and only Ninym, he’s a whiny selfish brat who desperately wants to slack off and be lazy but can’t because he’s a Prince with a country to look after. He tries making overtures towards the Empire that controls half the country to take it over… then the Emperor dies and that goes south. When a neighboring country invades, he tries to have a quick little war that will end in negotiations, but that goes south in a hurry. Even holing up in a newly conquered gold mine just means finding out that it’s nearly out of gold. Fortunately, Wein really is brilliant. He’ll need that brilliance.
This ended up being a lot of fun. For one thing, we’re in a “medieval kingdom” sort of world that does NOT appear to be filled with magic and monsters. There are the Flahm, a race who seem to be regarded as slaves by some other countries but not in Natra, as Ninym is a Flahm and treating her as a slave would… not be advisable. I was expecting elf ears or similar, but it looks like “albinism” might be the only difference. I was also pleased to see that, despite Wein occasionally taking note of the large-breasted Imperial Ambassador, this does not really appear to be a harem series at all. Ninym clearly loves Wein, and worries about whether he feels the same. Given that he literally has people killed who belittle or insult her, I think that might be a clue, but hey. They make an awesome power couple even if they’re not a couple, and their back and forth is the main highlight of the book. (Future book covers also feature only the two of them, meaning we’re unlikely to have a “stack up a new heroine every volume” syndrome many LNs have.)
If you enjoy warfare and politics but are sick of isekai and gaming-style fantasy worlds, this book may be the perfect antidote. It’s fun and entertaining.