A Plague of Swords (The Traitor Son Cycle #4)

Published Post author

The Plague of Swords Book Cover The Plague of Swords
The Traitor Son Cycle
Miles Cameron
Fantasy
Orbit (originally Gollancz)
October 25, 2016
Paperback
512

One enemy has fallen ... a greater one remains ... now it's war The Red Knight withstood the full might of his enemy and won the day. In a victory which will be remembered through the ages, he brought disparate factions together and turned them into allies against a more powerful foe than they had ever seen. Now, he will need his allies more than ever. Because behind one adversary hid another--one with allies of their own--whose goal was never to destroy Alba, but to distract the Kingdom while achieving his true aim. And whatever it is, it's probably not in the Red Knight's interest. With one army defeated, now the Red Knight must fight again--and for every one of his allies there is a corresponding enemy. Spread out in different lands, and on sea, it will all come down to one last gamble. And to whether or not the Red Knight has guessed their foe's true intentions. With each throw of the dice, everything could be lost.

 

The Plague of Swords was a bit slower than the other Traitor Son Cycle books but still entertaining. The story follows up the big battle from the end of The Dread Wyrm almost immediately. The war is fully underway, but Plague of Swords feels more like the middle ground of the story. With the precedence for big battles set by the first three books, Plague of Swords felt slow. For the chain of events necessary to tell this story, seeing what are essentially board meetings makes sense. War requires a massive amount of planning and maneuvering. But comparatively, it made Plague of Swords feel slow.

As the previous books have already demonstrated, Miles Cameron is a master at applying his historical knowledge to his writing. If you take out the fantasy elements, the story plays out like a real medieval war. Whereas many other writers have the two sides just show up and fight, Cameron displays the planning and strategies implemented long before the battles begin, as well as the logistics required to pull them off. Cameron’s mastery of history also shines through once the battles commence. The details of how the characters use their weapons are second to none. Each soldier fights using different weapons for different scenarios; people are not just flailing swords or fighting in ways that look cool to the audience.

Most of the characters are already established at this point in the story. Character development is something else that Cameron is no slouch at and that continues in Plague of Swords. A few new characters do crop up as well, as more major powers enter the war. Some of these feel a bit underdeveloped since they do not have the previous three books backing them up. However, everything ultimately fits as each new variable is worked into the Red Knight’s plans and gambles.

This is the only book (thus far) in the Traitor Son cycle that I merit 4 stars instead of a full 5. Mainly, that was due to the pacing. Despite the awesome page count of each book and all that affords the story, Plague of Swords was the first time in the series I found myself thinking, “Ok, let’s pick up the pace here.” Despite that, it is still several steps ahead of many other fantasy books and a little slowness can be expected since this is the prelude to the finale. The fifth and final book in the Traitor Son Cycle will be shocking if it is not 5/5.

December 9, 2018

Spinning Silver

Published Post author

Spinning Silver Book Cover Spinning Silver
Naomi Novik
Fantasy
Del Rey
July 10, 2018
Hardcover
480

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders... but her father isn't a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife's dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers' pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed--and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it's worth--especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.

 

Going into Spinning Silver, all I knew was that it was a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. It would be more accurate to say that the story incorporates elements of Rumpelstiltskin. While Spinning Silver is certainly a fairy tale with similar elements, it is very much Naomi Novik’s own story. Key elements are reused, such as turning objects into gold and names having power, but the plot and characters are substantially different. These elements both old and new are woven together for a fantastical, second-to-none modern fairy tale. The characters provide an extremely diverse cast, with a plethora of different actions leading them to each other as the story unfolds.

Our lead character is Miryem, daughter of an unsuccessful Jewish moneylender who takes her family’s fate into her own hands. But in the process of doing so, she unwittingly sets herself on a much different path in a world of magic. Then there is Wanda, daughter of an abusive drunk who struggles to help herself and her brother survive winter. Finally, there is Irina, daughter of a duke who sees her as a means to an end rather than a person. Some portions of Spinning Silver are from the POV of other characters, but these three women are the catalysts whose stories will change the fates of two kingdoms.

The world in Spinning Silver has a bit of real-world basis, such as Miryem’s family being Jewish. The age seems equivalent to medieval Europe, but with the people knowing full well that magic exists. Most hope magic does not impact their everyday life, for it is a thing of mystery and fear. This holds true for the powerful noblemen in their walled cities as much as the peasants in their small villages. As the Staryk arrive with the winter, the people cower for their gold and their lives.

So much can be said about Spinning Silver, and this short review certainly will not do it justice. This is not a simple black and white tale of good versus evil. The characters all exist in shades of gray, albeit some are darker grays than others. Each character changes over the course of the story, as will the opinions readers hold for them. But these changes are never stale, never boring, as Spinning Silver remains enchanting throughout. If you pick up any fantasy book this year, if you have any interest whatsoever in fairy tales, or if you want a book captivating enough that you will binge it in a day, then there is no better pick than Spinning Silver.

December 2, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody

Published Post author

Poster for the movie "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Bohemian Rhapsody

Fearless lives forever

20182 h 15 min
Overview

Singer Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor and bass guitarist John Deacon take the music world by storm when they form the rock 'n' roll band Queen in 1970. Hit songs become instant classics. When Mercury's increasingly wild lifestyle starts to spiral out of control, Queen soon faces its greatest challenge yet – finding a way to keep the band together amid the success and excess.

Metadata
Director Bryan Singer
Runtime 2 h 15 min
Release Date 24 October 2018
Details
Movie Media Cinema
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Not bad

Bohemian Rhapsody was a little bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, Queen. Finding someone who does not like Queen and also does not have questionable tastes in music is next to impossible. If nothing else, 99% of people will likely agree the film has a great soundtrack. On the other hand, this is a biographical film. While a good biographical film is always entertaining, they are a bit different than other forms of media. Things can tend to get muddled when transitioning from the real world to Hollywood. And covering a large amount of time can make the film feel a little too light.

The film covers Queen’s formation in 1970 and runs up to their Live Aid performance in 1985. 15 years is a long time for a single film to cover and the details felt sparse because of that. Taking a 15 period and cramming it into a movie is a lot harder than a short event like Sully. Most of the film jumps between key points in Queen’s history, such as the recording of their major hits. But as much as Bohemian Rhapsody was marketed as being about Queen, it focused mainly on Freddy Mercury.

While the rest of Queen was in the film substantially, Freddy was easily the main character. Which is an understandable Hollywood decision, since he was the lead singer. He was also the member of the band with the craziest stuff going on. Freddy Mercury was eccentric (rich person word for ‘crazy’); he led the life of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll on top of being bisexual in a time when that was not ok in the public’s eyes. To the world, he was a rock star, but the portrayal of his private life in this film holds reminiscence to Michael Jackson (crazy Michael Jackson, not on-trial Michael Jackson).

For any biographical film, the devil is in the details. Some details in Bohemian Rhapsody were great. A prime example is the Live Aid stage, which was an exact replica from the actual event back in 1985. They honestly could have just played footage from back then for the last 20 minutes of the movie and it would have been close to the same. But in other areas, mistakes were made.

The opening made it seem like Freddy had never performed and only dreamed of it before joining Queen. Freddy Mercury was in two bands before he joined Queen. The movie shows Queen performing in Rio in 1977, but their first real show there was not until 1981.  A montage of Queen’s first American tour showed them playing in Cleveland, Houston, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh (none of those were in their first tour). And this list goes on and on. For a biographical film light on other details, much of the included information is simply wrong.

November 25, 2018

Alliances (Star Wars: Thrawn #2)

Published Post author

Thrawn: Alliances Book Cover Thrawn: Alliances
Star Wars
Timothy Zahn
Sci-Fi
Del Rey
July 24, 2018
Hardcover
368

Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader team up against a threat to the Empire in this thrilling novel from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

"I have sensed a disturbance in the Force."

Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root--its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor's favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs--including the Death Star project--the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it's not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there's more behind his royal command than either man suspects.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth'raw'nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown . . . and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance--neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store.

Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged--by a test of their allegiance to the Empire . . . and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.

 

Thrawn: Alliances further fleshes out Thrawn’s backstory in addition to further implementing him into the main Star Wars story. The previous book dealt with Thrawn’s introduction into the Empire and rise through its ranks. Alliances touches on that by showcasing his encounter with Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars, mentioned in the first novel. This book flips back and forth between those flashbacks and a team-up between Thrawn and Vader occurring shortly after Star Wars: Rebels Season 3 finale. Both stories involve the same planet and hold memories for both Thrawn and Vader.

The two stories flip back and forth fairly frequently throughout the novel. In the Clone Wars era story, Padme goes missing and Anakin sets out with R2D2 to find her. Along the way, he encounters Thrawn, on a mission for his own people and willing to work with Anakin to achieve both their goals. This was one of the darker, Rogue One-esque, stories that Disney has written into their continuity. The implications of the plot Padme stumbles upon are obvious to anyone who knows how the Clone Wars end. But the real horror comes from seeing how often and how tragically civilians were caught in the crossfire.

The more modern story involves Thrawn and Vader investigating a disturbance in the Force felt by Emperor Palpatine. The most interesting parts of these bits were the parts from Darth Vader’s point-of-view. With the past-present story swapping, it was very interesting to see Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader in the same story. The flashback story takes place near the end of the war, so readers see Anakin’s anger the ultimately creates Vader. Vader in a book is very different from Vader in the films since his emotions are easy to see. Sections of the book from his point of view display him as clearly angry even though other characters can only see his faceless mask.

On the whole, Thrawn: Alliances does more for Vader as a character than Thrawn. Throughout the book, Thrawn continues to be a patient, almost impassive, but extremely efficient military officer. He is more integrated into Imperial society, no longer the newcomer he was in the first book, and better at playing politics. Even with someone as unforgiving and dangerous as Darth Vader for an opponent. Despite both being high-ranking Imperial characters, Vader and Thrawn’s personalities and command styles clash immensely. Seeing them put as a pair was interesting and some of the world building here opens the Star Wars universe up to many more future adventures involving the Chiss.

November 18, 2018

The Dread Wyrm (The Traitor Son Cycle #3)

Published Post author

The Dread Wyrm Book Cover The Dread Wyrm
The Traitor Son Cycle
Miles Cameron
Fantasy
Orbit (originally Gollancz)
October 20, 2015 (originally October 15, 2015)
Paperback
608

Some are born to power. Some seize it. And some have the wisdom never to wield it. 
The Red Knight has stood against soldiers, armies and the might of an empire without flinching. He's fought on real and magical battlefields alike, and now he's facing one of the greatest challenges yet. A tournament.

A joyous spring event, the flower of the nobility will ride against each other for royal favor and acclaim. It's a political contest -- one which the Red Knight has the skill to win. But the stakes may be higher than he thinks. The court of Alba has been infiltrated by a dangerous faction of warlike knights, led by the greatest knight in the world: Jean de Vrailly -- and the prize he's fighting for isn't royal favor, but the throne of Alba itself...

 

Note: This review will contain some spoilers regarding the first two books.

The Red Knight and The Fell Sword were a strong start and The Dread Wyrm turns it up to 11. Readers are now in the thick of this fantasy epic really reads like one giant book. Think of the Traitor Son Cycle as more Lord of the Rings then Narnia, as far as structuring goes. The previous book was a bit slow with a lot of planning and politics stretched out between the major battles. In The Dread Wyrm, the war begins in earnest and there is little rest for the characters between each battle.

A lot of questions begin to be answered in The Dread Wyrm. As with the previous books, the world building is expanded quite a bit throughout this novel. Readers learn more about the various races and the major powers at play in the war. As battles begin to break out in various regions, it becomes more and more apparent that all these conflicts either are or will soon be connected. Some will live, others will die, and all will continue to fight until only one side is left standing.

The action sequences are plentiful in The Dread Wyrm, to say the least. After the slower pace of The Fell Sword, it was nice to have the action ramped up. The action sequences are not limited to big, Braveheart level battles either. The story includes one-on-one duels, surprise attacks, and magical combat on the level of the Battle of Hogwarts. There are still slower points here and there for exposition and character development, but these sequences feel fairly limited compared to the immense amount of action here. Miles Cameron has already shown that he can write a siege, from both inside a fortress and outside it, and he has now shown he can just as effectively write a war.

On the subject of war: war is hell and people die. And my goodness does Miles Cameron make that apparent here. He is by no means afraid to kill characters off and does so increasingly as The Dread Wyrm moves forward. Spoilers suck, but I cannot review this book and do it justice without saying that two of my favorite characters die in a single battle alone. And that constant stream of death makes the war feel all the more real. No one is safe, any character can die at a moment’s notice because that is how war works. And the pain of that loss affects the survivors, empowering them with rage on the battlefield and hampering them with grief when the fighting is over. This story is far from over and the war has just begun, with more losses sure to come until the final battle is over.

November 11, 2018

Prey

Published Post author

Prey Book Cover Prey
Michael Crichton
Sci-fi
Avon
November 11, 2003
Hardback
507

In the Nevada desert, an experiment has gone horribly wrong. A cloud of nanoparticles -- micro-robots -- has escaped from the laboratory. This cloud is self-sustaining and self-reproducing. It is intelligent and learns from experience. For all practical purposes, it is alive.

It has been programmed as a predator. It is evolving swiftly, becoming more deadly with each passing hour.

Every attempt to destroy it has failed.

And we are the prey.

 

Prey, like many of Crichton’s books, is hard to peg down into a single genre. Crichton had this masterful approach of blending sci-fi, mystery, thriller, and horror. Compared to some of his other books, Prey is a bit tamer. By that, I mean that the book is easier to read. The explanations of real-world science that leads to the sci-fi aspect are not as intense as in his other works like Congo or Jurassic Park. That being said, science and new technology will still scare you senseless after reading Prey.

The mystery, like the science, was on the lighter side in Prey (for a Crichton book). The story had the twists and turns you can expect from Crichton’s work but to a lesser extent. None of the reveals felt particularly surprising; Prey did not have any “I did NOT see that coming” moments. On the whole, Prey is one of the easier Crichton books for a general audience. It is a good starting point for people who want to test the waters with his novels and may not want to jump feet first into the sheer level of science and raw information that is prevalent in many of his other acclaimed novels.

Readers can see bits and pieces of Crichton’s earlier works repeating themselves in Prey. The book centers around a group of scientists trying to stop a threat the rest of the world does not know about that could ultimately have global repercussions, similar to The Andromeda Strain. The threatening technology was made by scientists basing their work off of technology they did not 100% understand. In other words, the scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could they didn’t stop to think if they should. And when disaster finally strikes it is a battle of man vs. monster, a common theme in many Crichton books.

For the time being, Prey is one of Crichton’s books that has aged well. This was the 3rd-to-last book published before Michael Crichton died. The relative newness of Prey makes the sci-fi aspect more believable compared to his older works. Take something written much earlier like Congo in comparison. A lot of the “advanced technology” in Congo is technology we actually have today. Or are a least a lot closer to in the present than when Congo came out. The technology in Prey is still far enough away that it feels futuristic enough to be scary. Technology we have already tamed is not scary; upcoming technology that could potentially spiral out of control is very scary.

November 4, 2018

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

Published Post author

Poster for the movie ""

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween was not quite on par with the first film, but still a good family Halloween movie. There are plenty of good things about this movie, but a few tiny adjustments could have improved it a bit. The pacing of the story was excellent; no part of the movie felt slow once the adventure starts in earnest. It is also family friendly enough to feel like a Disney Channel movie, but with a bigger budget. But as much as that helped, it also held the movie back a bit.

The plot was the first big thing that held Haunted Halloween back. There is nothing that makes the story back, it is just basic. There are no twists and turns the audience is not expecting. Considering the Goosebumps books usually did have some kind of twist (the first movie even poked fun at that), the lack of one was a bit disappointing. For kids that works, but as an adult watching the movie for nostalgia it did not. And as is the case with most modern movies, a good portion of the plot was spoiled by the trailer.

Characterization was something else that made Haunted Halloween a bit rough. The kid characters are a bit younger than the ones in the first film. While there is nothing wrong with younger heroes, they did not have that same chemistry going as the original group. The adult characters were extremely underutilized this time around. There was a healthy balance between kids and adults in the previous movie and that just does not ring true here. Most of the adults get one or two scenes and fall to the wayside for the rest of the movie. This includes Jack Black, which is understandable since he was working on another movie while this one was being filmed.

The really big thing in the first Goosebumps was…well, Goosebumps. Every monster in the first film was from the Goosebumps books. The main villain of Haunted Halloween is still Slappy, which was great. Slappy has significantly more screen time, better motivation, and shows how smart he is despite being a dummy. But while a few other Goosebumps classics make an appearance, most of the monsters are generic. Some of them looked really cool but did lack that nostalgia factor. And while the monsters still looked nice, many of them had one close-up and were then reduced to background pieces. While all this makes Haunted Halloween a fine movie for kids, it is not going to become a Halloween staple.

October 28, 2018

A Dance of Mirrors (Shadowdance #3)

Published Post author

A Dance of Mirrors Book Cover A Dance of Mirrors
Shadowdance
David Dalglish
Fantasy
Orbit
December 3, 2013
Paperback
400

From USA Today bestselling author David Dalglish
One has conquered a city. The other covets an entire nation.
In book #3 of the Shadowdance series, Haern is the King's Watcher, protector against thieves and nobles who would fill the night with blood. Yet hundreds of miles away, an assassin known as the Wraith has begun slaughtering those in power, leaving the symbol of the Watcher in mockery. When Haern travels south to confront this copycat, he finds a city ruled by the corrupt, the greedy and the dangerous. Rioters fill the streets, and the threat of war hangs over everything. To forge peace, Haern must confront the deadly Wraith, a killer who would shape the kingdom's future with the blade of his sword.
Man or God; what happens when the lines are blurred?
Fantasy author David Dalglish spins a tale of retribution and darkness, and an underworld reaching for ultimate power in the third novel of the Shadowdance series, previously released as A Dance of Death.

 

Note: This review will contain spoilers for the previous two books.

A Dance of Mirrors picks up two years from where A Dance of Blades left off. While the Trifect and thief guilds are still holding to the peace treaty, Haern putting down anyone who threatens said treaty is the main thing preventing war from resuming. Then a second vigilante called The Wraith appears in the city of Angelport and begins a brutal murder spree inspired by The Watcher. With these murders provoking the local elves and threatening a war, Haern considers it his responsibility to stop the copycat.

With his mysterious, cloaked and threatening persona, Hearn takes on a classic vigilante role. He is very much like a fantasy world version of Zorro or Batman. Hearn is still a haunted character with the question of “Am I doing the right thing?” plaguing him throughout the story. Mentally, Hearn is still a very young man and it shows through his conflicting thoughts and emotions. Physically, Hearn continues to impress as a complete and total badass. Despite being a normal human with no magic in this fantasy world, he continues to keep up. Against people enhanced by magic, Hearn continues to survive on skill alone.

David Dalglish’s writing of action sequences continues to impress, whether Hearn, Zusa, or any other character is involved. While the protagonists are powerful, they are by no means invincible. Especially with the setting being a new city where they do not have their usual contacts and resources. And despite A Dance of Mirrors taking place in a different city, Angelport is no less corrupt than Veldaren. The corruption spreads its roots through the city in a different fashion, as Hearn quickly learns, but is still ever-present.

While A Dance of Mirrors is a good story, it is a somewhat specific type of fantasy. Whereas A Dance of Blades was more of a continuation, A Dance of Mirrors is its own story. On the upside, this means it holds its own as a standalone book. On the downside, there really is no overarching plot here. There is not a single, main antagonist whose dastardly plan must be stopped. But halfway through the Shadowdance series, you realize that is not the point. This is not a “save the world” story, it is a coming-of-age story. Hearn’s story. The boy raised as a tool who becomes his own man as he steps out of his father’s shadow. And I look forward to seeing where it goes next.

October 21, 2018

Fearless (The Lost Fleet #2)

Published Post author

Fearless Book Cover Fearless
The Lost Fleet
Jack Campbell
Sci-fi
Ace
January 30, 2007
Paperback
295

Captain John "Black Jack" Geary tries a desperate gamble to lead the Alliance Fleet home-through enemy-occupied space-only to lose half the Fleet to an unexpected mutiny.

 
This review will contain some spoilers regarding the previous book, Dauntless.

Fearless picks up shortly where Dauntless left off, with the Alliance fleet still trapped deep in Syndicate space. As the Alliance fleet slowly makes its way home, Geary continues to implement combat tactics to overcome the enemy. All the while, he still suffers from personnel problems as some fleet officers fight against his command style. This problem becomes worse among the rescue of some POWs that include Captain Falco, a war hero less like Geary and more like Zapp Brannigan. Falco is not a bad person, he has good intentions but is very much set in his ways (i.e. the poor tactical choices that have kept the Alliance in a 100+ year war).

Geary himself remains an exemplary example to the fleet throughout Fearless. All the other officers have been fighting a war their entire lives. In a war that has gone on for several times longer than any of them have been alive. Actions that we consider horrific, like bombing civilian populations, are the norm for these people. Geary goes a long way to remind his subordinates that fighting with honor means being better than your enemy. To extend a hand of mercy in situations where you yourself would not necessarily receive one.

Co-President Rione’s involvement in Fearless starts to establish The Lost Fleet as more of a space opera. The character introductions and world building in Dauntless left little room for other developments. Now with all that information established, the space opera element becomes more apparent. Specifically, Rione begins to show feelings and desires for Geary while still being wary of him. She makes it very clear that there is some attraction, but she is still ready to put a knife in him if he starts to become a threat to the Alliance. The build-up here is slow and will likely grow greater in the next book.

Character development, on the whole, is a bit stunted in Fearless. Captain Falco’s introduction helps push it along, but the main focus here is still big space battles and military tactics. For readers more interested in the military side of these stories, that works fine. But the characters do seem like that could feel more real. At this point, The Lost Fleet is still military sci-fi first and space opera second. And the series is still very enjoyable for it. Fearless was just as good as Dauntless and book #3 should be just as entertaining.

October 14, 2018

Overlord, Vol. 8: The Two Leaders

Published Post author

Overlord, Vol. 8: The Two Leaders Book Cover Overlord, Vol. 8: The Two Leaders
Overlord
Kugane Maruyama
Fantasy
Yen On
September 18, 2018 (English); December 26, 2014 (Japanese)
Hardcover
288

After being saved from danger by Ainz, Enri and the apothecary Nfirea have been living life to the fullest as they spend their days together in Carne Village alongside their goblin-guard neighbors. But after the Wise King of the Forest left the region, the balance of the forest has been disrupted and something has filled the vacuum of power...

 

The Two Leaders was…well, a little disappointing. This book focuses primarily on character development, with a little world-building and no real plot development. The novel actually contains two separate (although connected) stories: one focusing on Enri and the second on Ainz. In a nutshell, each story shows what day-to-day life is like for both of them as leaders of their communities. Both stories seem to take place around Volumes 5 and 6, as it is mentioned Sebas is still in Re-Estize. While having a different spin on Overlord is nice, The Two Leaders lacked the flair of the previous volumes.

Looking solely at character development, The Two Leaders was great. Enri’s story displayed how life is for normal, everyday people in this fantasy universe. It also shows how far Carne Village has progressed after being attacked way back in Volume 1. Readers are starting to see humans and non-humans living together peacefully, something that will be required in the future if Ainz is to successfully take over the world without using an iron fist. The resolve of the villagers is made apparent, as they refuse to be defenseless victims again. Enri dealing with many of the same personal issues, as a leader, as Ainz makes for a great comparison.

Ainz’s story shows something touched on in previous volumes: his transition from a normal man to an overlord. As a former Japanese salaryman, he uses what business skills he has to run Nazarick. Many other administrative functions are left to Albedo and Demiurge, since that is literally what they were made for. Ainz’s acting skills are also shown to have improved as he prepares himself for more public appearances as a leader. While seeing big fights is always neat, seeing the day-to-day activities that are normally passed over was interesting too.

Had it been placed between other volumes chronologically, The Two Leaders may have worked better. Having it so close to the also slow Volume 4 may have been problematic but being hypothetical that is really neither here nor there. The biggest gripe with The Two Leaders is that it interrupts an ongoing storyline. Volume 7 ended on a fairly sizeable cliffhanger that is clearly leading to something big. And then this side story just gets dropped in immediately following that, which is frustrating. Frustrating enough, in fact, to knock a star off the rating. But at least Volume 9 will, hopefully, impress well enough to make up for the interruption.

October 7, 2018