When I reviewed the first volume of the light novel series Reign of the Seven Spellblades, I found myself quickly becoming invested in this story about a magic academy. Now I’m back to check out Volume 2 and find out if it remains as polished as its first instalment.
We rejoin the cast six months into their time at Kimberly Magic Academy. Now the students have started to settle into their day-to-day lives, which makes it the perfect opportunity for the first years to hold a tournament! But this battle royal isn’t the only thing on everyone’s mind, as protagonist Oliver and his friends are busy getting themselves wrapped up in all kinds of trouble…
From learning how to fly on a broomstick, claiming a secret base or Pete discovering he has a rare magical trait, this time around, Reign of the Seven Spellblades is very focused on developing the cast and fleshing out their magical skills as opposed to moving the plot along. This isn’t such a bad thing since everything happening is at least adding world-building, even in the little touches like the fact the broomsticks are actually magical creatures with their own thoughts and feelings as opposed to household objects.
Pete’s situation is very interesting and not at all what I expected from the series. He awakens to a special trait that allows him to change between a male and female body, which give him certain advantages depending on the gender. I appreciate that the series doesn’t use this as an excuse to have any fan service surrounding Pete while he is presenting female and also that it talks about how neither a male nor female mage is stronger than the other, they just have different pros and cons (such as mana control). It’s very inclusive, which I appreciate and I’m sure many other readers will too.
What makes it better is how well the rest of the cast react to Pete, ranging from being unfazed to being excited for him and the potential this offers him as a mage. There is even a group at the academy for people who have awoken to similar abilities and want help and support. Most importantly, however, no one treats Pete any differently no matter what gender he is that day (since his power is still uncontrolled, he swaps between the two throughout the book).
However, the one thing I found a little bit disappointing about this book is the fact it doesn’t pick up from the ending of Volume 1, where we learnt that Oliver is secretly on a quest for revenge (and even killed one of the teachers!). We do see a few scenes exploring this, but it’s not the big focus I was expecting and I hope Volume 3 includes that element more.
Since the series has such a large cast of characters, it’s obvious that some of them would have less focus than others in a given volume, but I was also a bit sad to see how sidelined Nanao is. She has a big moment during the broomstick section (where she ends up with a very feisty broom!) but otherwise isn’t a focus. Her lack of attention is especially notable, given the battle royal is held for the other students to see if they can best Oliver and Nanao, but even then the spotlight falls on Oliver. It’s not a problem per se, just a shame if you became particularly fond of her in the first book. It doesn’t help that, like Volume 1, it’s Nanao and Oliver on the front cover again, which sets the wrong expectation.
While I don’t think this book is quite as captivating as Volume 1, I do appreciate the fact it’s taking the time to slow down and explore some of the more everyday aspects of the students’ life. Especially since the end of this one has our group embroiled in what is sure to be a tense and dangerous storyline going into Volume 3. In the long run, we’re going to be grateful for this kind of exploration. If nothing else, I continue to be impressed by how well thought out everything is by author Bokuto Uno and how well written Reign of the Seven Spellblades continues to be, even despite my minor criticisms.
Reign of the Seven Spellblades Volume 2 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Alex Keller-Nelson. The translation reads well with no problems to note. Volume 3 of the series is scheduled for release in July.
Overall, Reign of the Seven Spellblades Volume 2 is a less compelling read than its initial book, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad by any means. The world author Bokuto Uno has created is interesting enough where just spending time in it is always enjoyable. And if nothing else, the series is still a very unique offering in the market.