By Nobiru Kusunoki and Arico. Released in Japan as “Herscherik” by M Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Adam Seacord.
The second volume in this series pretty much picks up where the last one left off. There’s serious political intrigue. There’s tragic death and despair. There’s good old-fashioned sleuthing. And there is virtually none of the sort of thing that you’d expect in a reincarnation isekai – about the only thing that stands out is Herscherik briefly going all Marielle Clarac on us when he sees the titular knight and his former best friend (the first prince) angsting at each other and starts to ship them – though the text takes pains to tell us, over and over, that Ryoko was not a BL shipper per se. That, and the occasional scene where Hersch does something bad and Kuro yells at him, is the closest we get to humor in this series, which is far more concerned with showing us how HARD it is to change a corrupt world. Even when you discover the secret and stop the bad guys, you realize that there are bigger bad guys behind them who got away.
The titular Twilight Knight is that red-haired brooding man on the cover (OK, the one in the foreground, I clarify). Octavian is the 3rd son of the country’s most famous war general, and was easily the most talented of his children. Friends with the eldest prince, a lovely fiancee he adores, what could be better? Then his fiancee dies suddenly, and finding out why and how sends him spiraling into despair. Not, two years later, Herscherik is looking for a knight to protect him (every prince has one), but would rather not have a sycophant or someone only interested in his name. Octavian, who is trying out for the position as he’s being forced to by his family, seems like just the man. But can Hersch manage to awaken his spirit and get him to be the best knight he can? And can they stop the drug that killed his fiancee from making a comeback?
The majority of the plot, as you can see, is dealing with Herscherik as a 5-year-old 7th prince of the realm. But the most interesting stuff here may be on the Ryoko end of the equation. We get a few more glimpses of the life she had in Japan, and it’s clear that she was the type of employee who was overworked to death because she was competent enough to be given more. Herscherik is shaping up to be exactly the same. There’s also an oracle who is consulted at one point who not only gives our heroes the clue they need to solve the mystery, but also seems to be able to see that Hersch has the soul of a woman from another world inside him – something that is supposed to be impossible for this world. A far cry from the usual isekai “we summon heroes all the time” schtick. And Hersch is also starting to trust more people, which is helpful but also means more people are realizing he’s not your typical five-year-old boy.
So, as I noted, in the end our heroes win, sort of, but the main problem still exists. Which is good, as there are more volumes to come. For those who enjoy a good adventure series, this is right up your street.