Volume 3 of Reign of the Seven Spellblades brought a dramatic arc to its conclusion and promised that upon our return to the series, the cast would be becoming second-year students. Now with Volume 4 in hand, we enter into this new school year to find out if it’s as captivating as the first…
Protagonist Oliver and his friends have managed to survive their first year at Kimberly Magic Academy and are now second-year students. First up on their agenda for the new term is welcoming in the new first years and having been through the terrifying introduction to the school themselves, they’re determined to make sure the newcomers have some friendly faces to turn to for help and advice.
Of course, it’s not just the new students they need to worry about because now the classes are raised in levels of difficulty, they are becoming more dangerous. This includes beginning to study curses, which can be some of the most deadly spells in existence – they also have a habit of backfiring on the caster if they’re not a highly skilled mage.
If that wasn’t bad enough, some of Oliver’s group are being targeted by upperclassmen who are looking to sleep with them and give birth to new children who might inherit some of their magical traits. For the more clueless among our cast (namely Nanao, Katie and Guy), this leads Oliver and Chela to hold a meeting explaining that 80 per cent of students at Kimberly have had sex before they graduate and even having a child while studying there is not outside the realm of reason.
Oliver just wants to make sure everyone is careful and doesn’t get taken advantage of and while I feel this particular plot point could have waited until they were third or fourth years, it’s still an interesting element to come into play. I just hope it’s not going to lead to any sexual assault or similar storylines down the road. I’m also surprised by the fact the age rating of this volume is still 13+, given that there is some explicit sexual content in this one later on.
Elsewhere in this volume, we get to see the group head out to the local town of Galatea where they get a chance to relax and enjoy a bit of shopping and time away from fearing for their lives every moment of the day. Up until now, the whole series has taken place at either the academy or down in the labyrinth, so having a chance to see what lies beyond these two locations offers us some excellent worldbuilding. We get to see what dangers lurk in the town and meet students of a rival school that Katie almost went to.
I will say that, for as interesting as Volume 4 is, it does also feel like a filler volume in-between arcs. It does at least set up the next arc, but otherwise, it feels like nothing of great importance happens – at least nothing that couldn’t have been slotted in elsewhere. Of course, after such a dramatic storyline in Volume 3, having a breather isn’t a bad thing. I just can’t help feeling that this isn’t as satisfying as other books in the series have been.
Reign of the Seven Spellblades Volume 4 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has seen a change in translator from Alex Keller-Nelson to Andrew Cunningham. Despite the switch, the release reads well and is consistent with the earlier books, so all is well on the translation front! Volume 5 of the series is scheduled for an English release in April and it has recently been announced that an anime adaptation is in the works, so there is plenty of this franchise to get invested in.
Overall, Reign of the Seven Spellblades Volume 4 feels like a stopgap between arcs but still proves an interesting read. If nothing else, this one is worthwhile for the world-building it provides, which is sure to delight many existing fans.