Last time we visited Zagan and Nephy the two had added a daughter to their ranks in a tale that was sure to warm the heart. As the quiet everyday lives of the family continue, I’m eager to find out what’s coming next for the Archdemon and his elf bride. Today I’m here to check out Volume 3 of An Archdemon’s Dilemma: How to Love Your Elf Bride!
As it turns out, not much has changed since we last saw our heroes. Life has been progressing quietly as Nephy spends time with Valefor and Zagan, who works on decrypting the enchantment of the sacred sword he got his hands on in the last book. However, these ordinary days don’t last long. While out shopping in town one day, Nephy is attacked by a girl who looks identical to her! But the trouble doesn’t end there. Upon returning home, Nephy and the residents of Zagan’s castle (plus Chastille) are invited to a luxurious party hosted by another of the Archdemons. Convinced that this Archdemon must be behind the attack on Nephy, Zagan prepares himself to teach the fool a lesson – but perhaps there is more to the attacker than meets the eye…
The nice thing about this volume of Elf Bride is that it opens up the world considerably after the previous two volumes, which have been mostly set in or around Zagan’s home. Although we were already aware of there being more Archdemons, it’s refreshing to put names to faces and see just how much Zagan stands out from the crowd. He’s looked down upon by his peers but also draws their jealousy for having a “rare specimen” such as Nephy by his side. This story also sheds light on the existence of a demon lord, who was sealed away by the previous Angelic Knights who wielded the sacred swords. It’s a healthy and welcome dose of worldbuilding overall.
That said, not everything in this volume is great, and now that we’ve reached the third volume in the series, I’m starting to get irritated by certain elements. After Nephy is attacked, she struggles to tell Zagan anything about the incident. Now, while she’s understandably shaken up (especially given that she was attacked by one of her own: an elf), Zagan has always been there for Nephy. By not telling him what happened, all she does is hurt herself. Eventually Nephy does work up the courage to talk to him, but it’s always interrupted by something else in a bid to get her off the subject and is just irritating to me as a reader.
The other problem I have is that there’s a throwaway line made to Nephy about the fact she still wears the slave collar. When I read this I almost jumped for joy because someone finally said the thing we’ve all been thinking since Nephy decided to keep the collar – but then I was bitterly disappointed. The problem is that author Fuminori Teshima chooses not to use this line to get Nephy thinking about what the collar really means to those who see her wearing it and instead completely glosses over the whole thing. I’d rather they never brought attention to it at all than do that!
I think the overwhelming difficulty with some of the decisions made in this book is that while Elf Bride has never been problem-free, I was always happy to overlook them for numerous factors. The culture in Japan is different to ours and a lot of light novels use similar tropes, so I think that was an easy way to ignore the fact that Nephy’s wearing a slave collar and calling Zagan master. A part of me also felt like Teshima was slowly working toward getting away from these issues and instead making Nephy a stronger character (which in fairness, she still is), but bringing focus to the problems and then not addressing them was not a good idea and something I can’t overlook.
However, while I’ve spent the last three paragraphs talking about issues, it has to be said that despite it all, I still enjoyed this volume of Elf Bride. The worldbuilding was fun and Teshima has introduced some new characters into the mix who are sure to be recurring and great fun to get to know. While we didn’t get much in the way of character development, it was also satisfying to see more of Zagan and the relationships he’s built up over the course of these three books. It, sadly, is just a case of the bad outweighing the good in my opinion.
This release comes to the West thanks to publisher J-Novel Club and has once again been translated by Hikoki. Although the pre-pub release of this volume was once again filled with typos and grammatical issues, the final ebook release seems to be problem-free and reads well. Illustrations for this volume have been handled by COMTA and continue to convey the fantastical setting of this world well, along with the cute aura that Nephy projects.
Overall this volume of An Archdemon’s Dilemma: How to Love Your Elf Bride continues to offer everything I’ve come to like about the series. Unfortunately it also calls out the issues I have with the story and then proceeds to do nothing about them, which just leaves a bad aftertaste. Hopefully I get on better with the next volume!