If you’re at all familiar with popular light novels then you’ll have come across the VRMMORPG genre with series like Sword Art Online, Infinite Dendrogram, Log Horizon and many more. The latest of these to make their way into English is In the Land of Leadale, which I’m here to check out today.
Our story follows Keina Kagami, who is on life support after a horrific accident left her paralysed. Trapped in a hospital bed, Keina has nothing to do and decides to spend her days playing a VRMMORPG called World of Leadale. One day Keina wakes up in the body of her in-game character Cayna (who we’ll refer to as from here on out) and finds that 200 years have passed in Leadale and, rather than being a video game, this world is now very real.
Cayna quickly contacts her special AI assistant Kee, who informs her that a blackout caused her life support system to fail, disconnecting her from the game. This means that Cayna has now passed away in real life and her spirit has somehow ended up in Leadale 200 years in the future.
Rather than becoming depressed by this, Cayna instead decides to pour her energy into exploring Leadale and reconnecting with some of the NPCs and friends she had in the game before (if they’re still alive). Because Cayna’s character is an elf, at least she has an excuse for why she’s still around in the world.
What follows is a fairly sweet story about Cayna’s adventures in Leadale focused on the people she meets and the goals she sets herself, including reactivating all the special towers she and the other top players of the game owned.
It’s a slow burner to start with while Cayna makes herself at home in a small village, but once she reaches the big city, things pick up. Coming in at just under 300 pages, this light novel certainly has the room to pace itself comfortably and the result of that is a very relaxing read.
Of course, the downside of such a large page count is that because the beginning is so slow, it’s hard to get invested in the story. Initially, I was even thinking I wouldn’t read beyond Volume 1 until I got to the final 100 pages and the series managed to change my mind.
Since our protagonist was an avid player of Leadale when it was a game, she’s among the most powerful players in the world, which means she’s rather overpowered right now. Thankfully In the Land of the Leadale plays this for comedic value, rather than using it as an excuse for her to be better than anyone else. It’s certainly entertaining watching how the other characters react to Cayna’s powers and being utterly flabbergasted by her lack of common sense.
One thing I found particularly interesting was author Ceez’s afterwords, where they talk about how In the Land of the Leadale was originally a web novel written before ‘transported into a video game’ stories were commonplace. This is notable, given how much of the book overlaps with common tropes in the genre right now, but I can’t fault the author for them considering it only seems that way because of when it was published.
If you’re a particular fan of more relaxed fantasy adventures like By the Grace of the Gods, Banished from the Hero’s Party, or I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years then this one is sure to appeal to you – especially if you’re looking for a female lead. It’s well written and an easy read, with no particular issues other than seeming a bit generic but that’s not going to put its audience off. The only hurdle is the length of the books, since anything over 200 pages a volume seems like quite a commitment for this kind of story.
In the Land of the Leadale Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Jessica Lange. The translation reads well with no problems to speak of. The series is on-going in Japan at five volumes and Yen Press have Volume 2 scheduled for an English release in February.
Illustrations for the series have been handled by Tenmaso and capture the lively, cheerful nature of Cayna well. I especially like how Tenmaso’s style is more Western fantasy rather than being overly ‘anime’, which makes a nice change within the market.
Overall, In the Land of Leadale doesn’t offer anything different in the VRMMORPG genre of light novels, but it’s sure to appeal to some readers. Provided you have the patience for a longer read then your time will be rewarded with an enjoyable story.