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.
This volume was always going to have trouble living up to the high point of the previous one, and it does. It’s a very short light novel, coming out at not even 160 pages. And that, I think, is the problem – this volume is too rushed, leaving everything sort of half-baked. The joy of these books is seeing Wein come up with plans, wriggle around as they’re upended by a surprise disaster, and then come up with even more clever plans. but you need time for each of those things to simmer, and we don’t get that here. There’s also very little of Falanya, who was the star of the fourth book, and also a minimal amount of romantic tension between Wein and Ninym. There’s nothing wrong with the book, it’s reasonably fun to read, and gets exciting a few times. But the reader is left with the feeling that “that could have been better”.
Natra has been doing very well for itself under Wein’s leadership… VERY well, and has started to attract attention to itself, both good and bad. It also has to worry about Marden, its recent acquisition, which is far better located than Natra itself, and could easily wind up surpassing Natra itself. They need more allies. So he turns to the nations beyond Marden, Soljest (which is run by Gruyere, the very obese Holy Elite we briefly saw in Book Three, and Delunio, which is basically being ruled by its slimy Prime Minister. Wein heads to Marden, expecting Zenovia to try to solve Marden’s problems by a marriage proposal, which he plans to turn down, and then goes to Soljest, where he ends up suggesting that the two nations ally themselves to each other, something Gruyere quickly agrees to. And then… well, everything falls apart for Wein.
By now, the strengths and weaknesses of this series are pretty well locked in. Sadly, I find the art a weakness, as it’s frequently just too goofy for my tastes, and also leans into fanservice when it shouldn’t (there is a low-angle shot of Zenovia sleeping on her tits at a desk that should be taken out back and shot). The plotting and scheming is fun, both when Wein is being brutally clever and also when he’s being out-thought, and I really liked the idea that Zenovia *is* in love with him but refuses to marry him if she’s not his equal at being a clever person. Gruyere is also a lot of fun, and I did like the introduction of his daughter, who appears to be there mostly so that she can be a rival to Falanya in future books. But… everything happened too fast. The battles, the scheming, the dialogue, even the dumb goofy comedy. Ninym screws up Wein’s hair in an amusing way! Why was nothing done with that?
The series is still worth reading, and I look forward to the next book, but this one just feels… half-baked.