By Suzume Kirisaki and Cosmic. Released in Japan as “Saigai de Tamago o Ushinatta Dragon ga Nazeka Ore o Sodate Hajimeta” by M Novels. Released in North America by Cross Infinite World. Translated by Jordan Taylor.
I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy this new series, which I mostly decided to read because, well, I was reading CIW’s other two debuts this month, so hey. It begins with the old chestnut of “adventuring party doesn’t see the value in strategy so gets rid of the weak guy who’s actually the pillar of their support”, though most of the time those people are merely thrown out, not butchered and left for dead. The “I’m being raised by a dragon but we can’t communicate well, can we become a real mother and daughter?” plot is arguably the main one, and it’s a lot better, reaching a few levels of heartwarming along the way. That said, the big reason I enjoyed this book as much as I did was the ghost story. Not a literal ghost, but the idea that everyone is haunted by the presence of this guy, but they can’t remember his name. That’s fantastic.
Our nameless protagonist is, as noted above, murdered by his party members. They’re on a very dangerous mountainside and decide to use his corpse as bait to get away from monsters. As he crawls towards his inevitable death, he is picked up by a dragon. Back in the dragon’s lair, she finds she’s now a 10-year-old girl, and has lost most of her memories of her past. The dragon is clearly trying to raise her as a daughter, but has no idea what humans need in terms of food, etc., so they both struggle for a bit. That said, the previously magic-less protagonist, now named Lushera, can now breathe fire and manipulate lightning and other dragon-ey things. Meanwhile, back in the town the adventuring party came from, they’re highly disturbed by his old guild badge, which has his name blocked out but has stats that are out of this world.
The other important thing about this book is that the author calls it a “transsexual fantasy”, as the male protagonist, on being nearly killed and then reborn as a dragon’s child, is now a different gender. This is handled pretty well, mostly through subtext, as we see Lushera’s discomfort when having to wear girl’s underwear for the first time, and her constant astonishment at the fact that her new body is “cute” and “pretty”. But yes, it was the “ghost story” that fascinated me. Lushera’s old life is erased by (presumably) dragon magic, but it was just her name, and everything she did – which was a lot more than the stupid party that killed her thought – is still heavily influential on those in the town. We also learn the tragic reason she and the party were there in the first place, which neatly ties in to the new relationship she has with her dragon mother, one where she struggles to admit that it’s love for a parent.
This is another one of those “there’s more to the story, but it also could easily end in this volume” sort of books. I’d definitely put it in the “better than expected” category.