In the last volume of Magus of the Library, we saw protagonist Theo make it to the city of Aftzaak where he began the exam to become a ‘Kafna’. Now with Volume 3 in hand, it’s time to find out if our hero succeeds or crumbles under the pressure of the test.
Having finished the written portion of the exam, Theo now has to deal with an oral examination and then a practical demonstration of his abilities as a librarian. Worse still, the final part of the exam is held in a group which means Theo must work with two other Kafna hopefuls who are only looking out for themselves.
Theo comes out of the face-to-face exam exhausted and, having cried at the end (an outpour of his water mana due to stress, he later realises) he’s certain he’s already failed. Nevertheless, he pushes onward to the group task. Here he’s paired with two girls known as Natica and Ohgga and together they have to work out from a single page and an outer cover what book it is from and when it was written.
Not only is the book incredibly difficult to research, but Theo’s group is also on a time limit. It’s a high-stress situation and not something Theo is used to. Not only that but Natica is out for blood, vowing revenge on Theo should he cause the group to fail through his lack of knowledge.
Volume 3 of Magus of the Library brings a close to ‘Part 1’ of Theo’s story. The young boy we met back in Volume 1 has grown a lot since his introduction and watching his progress has been incredibly rewarding.
Even if Theo doesn’t pass the Kafna exam it’s clear that he will have plenty of opportunities back in his home village. Rather than being the outcast, he now has a home and friends to return to, which would have been an unbelievable thought back in Volume 1.
This instalment of Magus of the Library also does a good job of developing the world Theo lives in. Despite being focused on the exam, we’ve met plenty of characters from different parts of the world with a variety of backgrounds and special racial traits (such as Ohgga’s cat ears). This sense of depth is something mangaka Mitsu Izumi is very good at conveying and one of the reasons readers of the series will keep coming back for more.
It’s not just storytelling Izumi excels at though, their artwork also continues to be incredible. There was one two-page spread in particular that stuck with me this time around. The image depicted Theo’s sister talking to him and working out how to convey her feelings to him, but there was almost no dialogue on the page. Instead, it was six panels focused on her face and how her expression subtly changed. It was breath-taking stuff that reaffirmed how much I love the artwork in this manga.
This volume of Magus of the Library comes to the West thanks to Kodansha Comics and has been translated by Stephen Kohler. The translation reads well with no problems to speak of. This release gets us caught up to the Japanese volumes, with a fourth volume not due out there until June. This means we’ll probably be waiting quite some time before more of the series is available in English!
Overall, Magus of the Library Volume 3 continues to offer a delightful and interesting read. This instalment brings an end to the first part of Theo’s story, which has been a wonderful tale from beginning to end. This is still a manga everyone should be reading.