By Bokuto Uno and Miyuki Ruria. Released in Japan as “Nanatsu no Maken ga Shihai suru” by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Alex Keller-Nelson.
The third volume in this series is very much “Part 2” of the second volume, as we ended with a nasty cliffhanger last time. Pete is in the hands of Ophelia, along with several other boys from the school, and is not expected to be found alive. Our heroes need to go after him, but the labyrinth is not off limits for no good reason, and there are also upper-year students also searching for them. Still, Nanao, Oliver and Chela are actually good enough to survive it, and are joined by a former enemy who turns out to be helping them… though not necessarily out of the goodness of her heart. While this is happening, we get the tragic backstory for Ophelia, who is a succubus whose scent can inflame male passions, and therefore not only had trouble making friends when she first got to school, but was slut-shamed to the point where it drove her to… well, bad actions. Can she be saved? Can she at least have a remotely peaceful death?
It was mentioned to me on Twitter that this series probably would work better in animated form than it does as prose, and I can certainly see why. There are an awful lot of cool battles here, and while they are definitely cool enough being described to us they cry out to be seen. Each of our six protagonists gets something to do… though Katie and Guy can only help in indirect ways, and Pete, of course, has to do something about their own kidnapped situation. Pete’s reversi nature is rapidly becomeing a far more well-known secret, which I suspect might have consequences in future volumes, especially given the fate of one of their support mechanisms here. And yes, Oliver is clever, Chela is clever, and Nanao is… well, NOT clever, but she’s very battle savvy, and her not cleverness can provide some of the few light moments in this book.
Those who have read my previous reviews know that I have been studiously avoiding mentioning a certain other well-known fantasy series that Seven Spellblades reminds everyone of, and that comes into play here as well, as a lot of what Ophelia goes through is reminiscent of another group in that series. That said, Ophelia’s is far darker and more tragic. Her backstory is welcome mostly as it shows us that she was once also a first-year who was slowly drawn into a group of friends, just like our heroes at the start of the first book. It shows us that we should not get too comfortable, and that any of of them could easily be sharing an equally tragic fate in the next few books. My money, in fact, is on Oliver, who may be the main character but also has far too many weak sports.
The main weak spot of this book is the ending, as the book simply stops like a Target Doctor Who paperback that has reached Page 128. I’m not sure if the author was trying to set a somber, downbeat book with that or was working to a pagecount, but either way, I think an epilogue would have been better here. That said, it’s still another strong volume in the series, and I eagerly await the fourth book, where apparently our heroes move up a year.
Also, love Milihand, and I really hope she sticks around as a regular character, or at least a mascot.