Volume 3 of The Rising of the Shield Hero is where things start to pick up. While the last book did not 100% wrap up the intro sequence, readers start to see that here. For you anime watchers, Volume 3 covers episodes 9 to 13. This time around, existing character development and plot advancement take precedence over introducing new characters. Volume 3 primarily revolves around the Heroes fighting the next wave, including prep work and the aftermath of the battle. Readers also get to see the first hints at behind-the-scenes politics going on within Melromarc, and their influence.
But that is not to say that the plot-lines from Volume 2 are all wrapped up. Naofumi continues (to his frustration) to clean up the messes left by the other heroes. And his relationship with Melty, the newest member of the group, continues to develop. Moreover, Raphtalia begins this book still cursed following the battle against the zombie dragon. Suffice to say, the group is kept busy prior to fighting the next wave. But the wave does come and this time around Naofumi is properly prepared and ready for a real fight.
The wave itself is one of the best parts of Shield Hero up to this point. Naofumi has gained a lot of experience, both personal and as a leader, since the last wave. And it shows. Whereas the other heroes do what they did last time (run off seeking glory), Naofumi marshals what forces he can and rallies a defense. And does this job well enough that he starts to outshine the other heroes. By the time the battle is said and done, it cannot be denied that Naofumi played the most pivotal role. Between that and his travels, public opinion is starting to sway in the Shield Hero’s favor.
That is not to say that everyone is happy with this outcome. The Shield Hero still has many powerful enemies who want public opinion of him to stay as-is. People who care more for their own personal power than the safety and survival of the citizens under their rule. Or even of the world. Once again Naofumi finds himself falsely accused without so much as a chance to defend himself. But anyone who thinks he will go down without a fight this time is a damn fool. Despite everything, he persevered once and is damned determined to do it again. How that turns out will be revealed in Volume 4.