By Yukiya Murasaki and himesuz. Released in Japan as “Haken no Kouki Altina” by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Roy Nukia.
A lot of Japanese fantasy novels tend to take place in “Europe with the serial numbers filed off”, and Altina the Sword Princess is no exception. That said, in terms of the haves versus the have-nots, one look at the map provided at the front of the book will show that the country belonging to our heroes is head and shoulders above the others. Sure, the battle against Britannia was rough, and Hispania seems to be doing the same sort of piracy that Spain was said to be doing back in the days when massive Empires controlled Europe. But Belgaria, the equivalent of France, is not really hurting either. Especially with its new King on the throne, who is not a dissolute reprobate. Unfortunately, what the new King is is someone who will only want eternal war. As a result, the new head of the army Altina and her strategist are headed down south to try to stop the equivalent of Italy from taking several highly prized cities.
Several surprises await Regis and Altina in this book. First of all, Britannia has finally decided to overthrow its current Queen after that disaster of a campaign and is looking for the next in line… who happens to be traveling incognito with our heroes. Secondly, the generals that have made up the fighting force in the south so far seem… slightly off. The Sixth Army is to be praised for having few casualties… but that’s mostly as it keeps retreating. The Eighth Army is at least more gung ho… indeed, their own general seems a little TOO gung ho. And what’s more annoying, the land and cities that are being lost are some of the most fruitful areas in Belgaria in terms of vegetables and wheat… meaning princes are going up due to shortages. The piracy is not really helping. Given all this, it’s no wonder that stopping Elenore from hitting on Regis is low on Altina’s priority list.
With every volume in this book the stakes have gotten higher, and I appreciate the book calling this out. First of all, we get real dead soldiers here, as Regis has to force the other armies’ hands with his own strategy, while at the same time fighting the Etrurian Army. He can’t rely on tricks and schemes to win the battle anymore… he has to find a way to get peace. Which means that he and Altina have got to do something about Latrielle, because the moment they achieve results here they’re told to invade Hispania. Latrielle will not be happy unless he’s fighting someone, the antithesis of what Altina wants. Something has to give soon, and it’s likely going to mean civil war. We also get some good discussion here on ways to fail but not get removed from your post… unfortunately, with Regis in charge, that changes swiftly. Both southern Generals are a different variety of infuriating, so this is for the best.
So, will the next volume be in not-Spain? Or will the gears of war start turning inward? If you like military fantasy, this continues to be a must buy.