By Maito Ayamine and Cierra. Released in Japan as “Shinigami ni Sodaterareta Shoujo wa Shikkoku no Tsurugi wo Mune ni Idaku” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sylvia Gallagher.
This series does have, amidst its themes of “war is hell” and the like, a love triangle at its core. This is part of the series’ annoying sub-theme of “all the aides are in love with their commanders” that I dislike, but I’ll ignore that for the moment. Claudia is easiest to understand, she’s a classic tsundere who’s in love with Ashton but refuses to admit it to herself or others. Ashton is in love with Olivia, though it’s not clear if it’s romantic or just a shining ideal, but he is otherwise a classic romcom harem lead, with a few “could these women actually like me?… naaaah” monologues under his belt. And then there’s Olivia, who loves Ashton and Claudia, but I suspect the author is not intending us to be thinking “yay, polyamory”, but rather that we’re supposed to think that Olivia is not quite human and doesn’t understand romantic or sexual attraction. It’s a bit of a mess.
The start of the book features Olivia and company headed to the Holy Land of Mekia, there to meet up with its leader, who has taken a shine to Olivia. They try to lure her to their side with promises of using their resources to find out where Z is, which makes Claudia curse, as this had never even occurred to her to try to offer Olivia, and Fermest can’t do it very well as they’re at war. Still, an incident involving Ashton’s near-death… again… convinces Olivia that she’s not going to change sides for now. In the meantime, the empire continues to have a very bad time, which is what happens when your grand vizier… pardon me, chancellor… is evil and your empire is secretly run by a death god. When the Kingdom comes calling, with Olivia at its vanguard, who will rise up to meet her? And will it be enough?
We get a nice little flashback in this book to Olivia’s parents (though she was originally called Caroline) and are reminded that her mother is of Deep Folk descent, which is leading to a lot of subplots converging. Still, she may have human/deep folk as birth parents but her upbringing is all Z, and that’s what really makes her as inhuman as she seems at times in the series. She has no real fear of monsters that would kill anybody else, and when asked where she grew up, points to the middle of a forest that has a reputation so bad that anyone who tries to investigate it finds their investigators dead. That said… Olivia is also gradually getting more humanity in her, and that’s entirely due to Ashton and Claudia, who are definitely a calming, soothing influence on her, even if they can’t actually stop her from doing what she wants. This series is not going to end with polyamory, but if it *did*, it would be great.
It might also end with most of the cast dead, admittedly. After all, war is hell.