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.
I had a lot of fun with the first volume of this series, and am pleased to report that I liked the second volume even better. For one, it’s a relief to be living in a world of political intrigue and mind games, one where our protagonists actually are people born in that world and have not been transported from modern day Japan. There is no adventurer’s guild… or indeed adventurers at all, nor do we appear to have any magic. It’s just a series with a clever young prince and his clever aide doing battle (at least in this novel) with an equally clever princess from the strife-torn Empire, still dealing with the death of its Emperor that we heard about in the last book. It feels a little bit like an episode of Blackadder if everyone were as clever as he was. There’s even a minimum of light novel cliches – the readers get a scene of the main female cast in a hot springs, but Wein is absent doing paperwork – no accidental peeping here. These are adults.
As noted, the main thrust of this volume is that Wein’s kingdom is visited by the 2nd Princess of the Empire, Lowellmina, who rumor has it is looking for a political marriage. As it turns out, she’s someone both Wein and Ninym have met before, though they were unaware that she was a princess. Wein correctly guesses she has another plan behind the public one, but has trouble figuring out the REAL plan she has behind the second one. She, meanwhile, is also trying to see what he does and how he reacts, relying on his being exceptionally clever to keep the ball rolling along. In among this we have the usual political crises. The Empire is trying to figure out which of the three songs of the Emperor should be in charge. Two territories in Wein’s kingdom who have always been at each other’s throats are coming to a boiling point. And a lovestruck, foolish son of an aristocrat from a neighboring nation may cause everything to fall apart for both Wein AND Lowellmina.
I mentioned in my last review that the best part of the book was the relationship between Wein and Ninym, and that remains the case. At the moment, it’s impossible for anything to happen between them, mostly as Wein is a noble Prince and Ninym is a non-noble from a race that many countries are severely prejudiced against. I suspect that will change before the series ends, because let’s face it, Wein and Ninym have been “married” for years now, in terms of closeness and knowing each other’s hearts. Lowellmina is also a great character, not as overdramatic as Wein can be when things go wrong (there’s some amusing faces in the illustrations) but still cut from the same cloth. There’s also some fun scenes showing Wein and Ninym at the Empire’s military academy from two years prior (which is where they met the in-disguise princess), and I’d love to see more from that period as well.
Certainly I’d recommend this for fans of series like Realist Hero and other kingdom-building books, but also for those who enjoy a light novel series without having to make excuses for half of the events that take place in them. Glorious fun.