By Reia and Haduki Futaba. Released in Japan as “Koushaku Reijou no Tashinami” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Andria Cheng.
If the first book in the “Accomplishments of the Duchess” prequel was about discovering the hellion that Merellis once was, this volume is about showing us how she came to be the woman we know from the main series. In essence, this is also a book about her training for battle, it’s just the battles she’s going to face are in society rather than in the military, and the enemy is anyone who dares to look down on her. And, frankly, she takes to this just as well as she took to being a swordswoman. Frankly, as I’ve said before, Accomplishment of the Duke’s Daughter is not a series to read if you want to see protagonists struggling valiantly against impossible odds. For the most part, it’s about seeing women kick ass, in a variety of settings. In that regard, this volume works perfectly fine. And, in case you were worried we’d lose the awesome swordplay and butchering of enemies, no worries, we get a bit of that as well.
There is an ominous beginning, where Merellis’ father forbids her from taking up the sword and announces she’s going to be engaged to be married to the son of Duke Armelia, a political marriage. She suffers greatly over this for about five pages, but the reader is in on the joke, so we know everything will be fine once she figures out who the duke’s son is. After that it’s just a matter of shifting gears. If she can protect the most people around her through politics rather than the blade, then politics it is. As such, Louis’ mother gives Merellis a crash course in nobility, something she has assiduously been avoiding for the past several years. Just in time too, as it’s time for her to make her debut and attend the academy. Let’s hope it goes smoother for her than it did for her daughter…
I enjoyed seeing how Merellis’ training in military and the sword can be of use to her in society, particularly in how she watches the way people move and stand. Twins who are indebted to her father for saving their lives arrive at the estate, and Merellis can tell very rapidly that a) they have some basic fighting skills, and b) they’re OK to trust. These skills will serve her well. The book’s pacing is sometimes a problem, and sometimes the plots it drops can be more ominous than intended – Merellis’ old maid injures herself and is forced to return home, and there is a suggestion that she will die… which she may indeed have done, as we never hear from her for the rest of the book. It’s at times like these that the series shows off its seat-of-the-pants webnovel roots.
Fans of the main series may still be a bit put off that Iris is only in the wraparound at the start and end of this, but for those who found her mother to be a cool character, good news, here’s more of her.