It has been more than a year since we were last treated to a volume of Magus of the Library, but despite the large gap between releases, I’m still as eager as ever to revisit the series. With Volume 6 in hand, let’s find out what’s in store for Theo this time.
Volume 5 of Magus of the Library was all about Theo beginning to figure out what department he wants to work in, should he be able to become a Kafna. On top of that, he’s had difficult tests to clear in class, which has been giving him and some of his classmates plenty of trouble!
So as we reunite with Theo here in #6, perhaps it’s no surprise that he’s still trying to figure out a way to keep up with the demands of his class. But the tests aren’t the only issue, Theo has also had a run-in with classmate Medina who yelled at him for trying to help her when she collapsed.
Medina comes from a different heritage to Theo and the other students. She has different religious beliefs, too, which is what’s leading to friction between her and the others. Medina sees Theo as a half-breed and even went so far as to tell him he shouldn’t be alive. Understandably, Theo’s friends are extremely unhappy with Medina’s behaviour, but Theo himself still wants to become friends with her and help her.
Medina is in crisis, struggling with her Kafna training and the fact she’s in such unfamiliar territory with people whose opinions and beliefs differ so drastically from her own. Nothing she does seems to go well and rather than keep an open mind when interacting with the people around her, Medina is being stubborn. The other problem is that Medina has learnt she didn’t earn her role as a trainee Kafna, instead she was accepted into the role due to her father having made a sizable contribution to the central library.
Theo quickly senses that Medina is filled with hatred, toward herself, her parents and her heritage. But when her blood and beliefs are all she has, what’s she supposed to do? She continues to lash out at those around her while coming ever closer to hitting rock bottom. Medina even considers resigning from the programme, which is something Theo doesn’t want to see happen. Surely there’s a way to resolve this?
While the past few volumes of Magus of the Library have been very character-driven, this one with its focus on Medina allows mangaka Mitsu Izumi to give us some detailed world-building. From the beginning of the series, it has always been clear that this world has a rich history, with people from many different walks of life who have suffered through many political shifts, being discriminated against or used as slaves. And with Medina at the forefront of the story, we get a lot of this history explained to us, which is a real treat as it gives so much more depth to the story and the characters.
And once again, Theo makes for a fantastic lead character as someone who’s happy for people to believe in whatever they want, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. He knew before becoming a trainee Kafna that his world would expand a great deal as he met people from different countries to his own. The important thing was to be open-minded, to accept one another’s point of view and try to find common ground to work from. It’s perhaps an overly optimistic thought process, but that suits Theo’s character and helps balance the otherwise distressing nature of Medina’s arc. At the end of the day, we’re all people, influenced by our country and upbringing but equally able to make our own decisions and there’s no reason we can’t be respectful of differing opinions.
Magus of the Library Volume 6 comes to the West thanks to Kodansha and continues to be translated by Stephen Kohler with lettering by Paige Pumphrey. As usual for this one, the release reads well with no issues to note. Volume 7 of the series is currently scheduled for a release in February 2024. So, quite a wait until we get back to this one, unfortunately!
Overall, Magus of the Library Volume 6 takes a different direction than you might expect given the events of Volume 5, but it still proves a delightful read as we watch these characters figure themselves out. This instalment also does a fantastic job of fleshing out the worldbuilding, which I imagine will become even more important going forward.
Our review copy from Kodansha was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK.