Fantasy stories with an undead character among their cast aren’t anything new, but in this isekai-riddled market, they are somewhat few and far between. Enter The Undead King’s Reign of Peace, a new fantasy release from Yen Press that promises to be something a little bit different.
The story follows Mira, a young girl who is infected with Green Rot, a fatal infection that eats away at the host until they pass away. It’s also incredibly infectious and has already spread through the small village Mira lives in where only children remain after the adults have died or left to seek help (and then been killed by soldiers in case they spread the disease elsewhere). Just as Mira finds herself on the verge of death, she’s visited by the Undead King Terios, who gives her a potion that cures her of the Green Rot! Not only that, but he’s also saved the other children in the village.
Thanks to the outbreak of the Green Rot, the village has been all but abandoned by the outside world so Terios decides to make it his base. He treats Mira and the others well, feeding them and providing them with an education but obviously, our protagonist is wary of what his eventual goal might be. When she and her friends confront Terios, they’re surprised to hear that his ultimate goal is to create a peaceful world where no one suffers, a goal that he chased in his previous life before becoming undead but never accomplished.
Once Mira learns Terios’ reasoning for looking after them, she vows to support him and is overjoyed when he asks her if she’d like to become an apprentice mage. Now she spends her days peacefully learning all she can to protect herself and her friends but also to help her master obtain his goal. Naturally, the appearance of an Undead King isn’t usually seen as a good thing and once word spreads to the nearby kingdom, they dispatch soldiers to defeat him, which puts these peaceful days at risk!
While I quite enjoyed reading The Undead King’s Reign of Peace I will say upfront that there is potentially a notable issue here. This volume was released in Japan in early 2020 and since then there has been no sign of Volume 2, which suggests there isn’t going to be another one. The problem here is that a large portion of this book is setting up the overall story and the conclusion is certainly fine for the end of a single entry, but not strong enough to conclude the series as a whole. The fact it’s labelled Volume 1 is also telling that this wasn’t intended to be a single book, but instead the beginning of a long-running project.
It’s a shame too, since author Sakuma Sasaki (The Dirty Way to Destroy the Goddess’ Heroes) has created a likeable cast of characters. Terios, in particular, is a man of mystery, but it’s clear there is a significant story behind him becoming undead that is slowly being revealed as the story goes on. By the end of Volume 1, we don’t know everything, but we know much more than we did at the start about his origins.
The only other issue I had was with the writing where there was an insistence on shipping Mira and Terios, which her friend Torio is unimpressed by since he’s secretly in love with her himself. This leads to jokes about Terios being a pervert, which is fine once or twice, but quickly grew tiring. Luckily the rest of the book was interesting enough that I could overlook this.
As previously mentioned, The Undead King’s Reign of Peace Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Jordan Taylor. The translation reads well with no issues to note. This release includes colour pages at the beginning by illustrator Eishi Hayama (who has several credits to their name but nothing available in English). On the whole, the illustrations do a good job of capturing the cast and the colour ones, in particular, are very vibrant and eye-catching.
Overall, The Undead King’s Reign of Peace Volume 1 has an interesting premise and likeable cast but it’s let down by the fact it doesn’t seem to have continued further than this book. Definitely one to keep an eye out for returning, but otherwise proves a difficult recommendation right now.