So, this story arc, like Volumes 5 and 6, is divided into two books. This being Part 1 of that story, it shares a fair number of similarities with Volume 5. The first is that narratively this is the build-up phase. That’s not to say nothing really happens in this book, but it’s all preamble. This all makes it a pretty far cry from the big, epic moments of the series like Volume 3 or Volume 9. But that doesn’t mean the book isn’t interesting, its action sequences are just tamer. Cause that’s not really the focus here and will likely happen in Part 2.
What this book does is bring the audience to the Sacred Kingdom and its paladins. And show what Demiurge has been up to during the events of the last few books. And he’s once again using his disguise as Jaldabaoth, which just really makes this storyline even more comparable to the previous two-parter. So, the first two chapters of this book mainly focus on bringing in new characters, mainly the aforementioned paladins. We get to know a little bit about the Sacred Kingdom, see them fight, and so forth. Then the tone shifts a bit and starts to focus more on Ainz, although one of the new characters (Neia) becomes his little sidekick.
The thing about Paladin of the Sacred Kingdom is that it starts off slow. Told from their point of view, the story makes sense. We see the paladins desperately doing everything they can to protect their homeland. But we, the readers, know what the Nazarick gang is capable of. We know these paladins are doomed to failure. That they are being played like fiddles. And it’s not actually until the very end of the book that we see what Ainz is really planning here. And like usual, his train of thought is pretty different from the Guardians, but he rolls with it.
One thing that was fun to see here was Ainz’s continuously degrading humanity. He’s become less human, less moral, over the course of the series. But up until this point, it’s been kind of hands-off. Him just giving the orders or the ok to do terrible things. Or causing bad things to happen on a big scale where it’s hard to feel and measure the individual suffering of the victims. But now, he gets his hands dirty. And doesn’t feel even a shred of real remorse over it. He’s even struggling to just understand normal people and where they’re coming from at this point. It seems like he less feels emotions and more remembers what it was like to feel them. He is very much becoming the mask throughout this story and it will be interesting to see where that takes him.