Back in June Volume 2 of Reign of the Seven Spellblades left us with a dramatic cliffhanger as Pete was abducted by a chimaera. Now Oliver and the rest of his group have made it safely out of the labyrinth and back to the school, but they still need to work out how to rescue their friend…
Being first-year students, Oliver and co. are discouraged from going back into the labyrinth to rescue Pete, especially since he seems to have been kidnapped by Ophelia Salvador. Ophelia is a fourth-year student at Kimberly Magic Academy. She’s also a succubus whose scent has always driven her fellow male students crazy, which led to Ophelia being isolated and focusing on her magic more than making friends. She’s been capturing male students to complete her masterpiece, which requires draining them of their vitality.
A search party consisting of fourth-years and higher embarks on a trip to try and find Ophelia and save the students, but Oliver is not content to just sit and do nothing. Luckily for him, he’s approached by Vera Miligan (whom the group fought with in Volume 1), who offers to go down to the labyrinth with them to help on a rescue mission of their own. Although our protagonist doesn’t fully trust Miligan, he reasons that if she does anything suspicious, they could probably take her down and ultimately having a fourth-year student to guide them through the labyrinth (especially one familiar with Ophelia), will be nothing but a benefit, given the need to find Pete before he and the other captives lose their lives.
In the end, Oliver, Nanao and Chela go on the journey with Miligan, leaving Guy and Katie behind at the school so they can take notes from the relevant classes and catch them up on their schooling upon their return. Given some of the horrors our group face in the labyrinth, this turns out to have been a wise decision!
Reign of the Seven Spellblades thrives on the idea that there is a darkness lurking behind everything at Kimberly and that the further you get into your time there, the more corrupt you become (if you haven’t already died). This theme has served the series well for its first two volumes and once again for its third, especially with Ophelia’s story. As Oliver and his group get closer to finding her, we see flashbacks of her past, one that is haunted with betrayal and trust issues. By the end of the book, you’re certainly rooting for the protagonist still, but it’s difficult not to wonder what could have been had Ophelia’s life played out differently.
While this instalment of the series is just as gripping as the books that came before it, I did find myself feeling like it was just an extension of Volume 2 and didn’t stand on its own that well. This wasn’t helped by a slimmer page count (180~ pages), which made me wonder if the author originally intended for it all to be the same book but was prevented, due to page constraints or similar. This isn’t a huge problem, but it does mean this storyline won’t be as memorable as its own entry and perhaps will be overshadowed by a fresh start in Volume 4 where the group are becoming second years.
Reign of the Seven Spellblades Volume 3 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and continues to be translated by Alex Keller-Nelson. The translation reads well with no issues to note. This volume also includes a list of characters at the beginning, which I found a helpful reference, given how many side characters are involved this time around. It also tells you which years which characters are in, which again is very useful to have! Volume 4 of the series is currently scheduled for release in November.
Overall, Reign of the Seven Spellblades continues to be a compelling and interesting read. While Volume 3 feels like an extension of Volume 2 rather than its own adventure, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t give us everything we’ve come to know and enjoy the series for.