The Everlasting—a title given to those who’ve reached a state closest to godhood. This honor is a dream to all novice mages and warriors. Our story begins with Asura Shirogami, an orphaned sixteen-year-old boy trained in warrior arts who transfers to Albion. Having no friends and an embarrassing first day, Asura must adapt to his new life and learn magic. With no knowledge of magic spells, he unknowingly gets entangled in a school competition where the whole campus is the battlefield. What starts as an intense battle between classmates turns deadly as a powerful intruder interferes.
– From Vic’s Lab.
Okay, unlike the handful of other light novels I have so far reviewed this one is actually an original English light novel. Full disclosure: I was given a review copy of this one after being approached on Twitter about whether I was interested in reviewing original English light novels by Vic’s Lab. I’m also going to point out that as it is an ebook, I had the usual issue I have with ebooks in that I can’t flick back to pages easily when something comes up later and I want to confirm something quickly and when I finish the book it isn’t easy to go back and re-read just certain sections because finding the place is often really quite challenging. None of that takes away from the book itself, but kind of shows I’m just a little bit old school still and I would have liked to have been able to easily flick back to certain points. So into the review.
I’m going to start with my main issue with The Everlasting before getting to its better points. Though, I will admit that this is an issue across a number of the light novels I have read; and that is the sheer amount of exposition. Early on this book gives us massive amounts of information about the city and the world and it is an interesting city and world being described, but there is so much information dumped on the reader so quickly and at the time it isn’t integrated into the story so some of those details get forgotten (hence the wanting to be able to flick back later in the story when I wanted to confirm a detail that I’d forgotten and found that it was too much effort on my kindle so gave up the idea and ended up just assuming I’d remembered it correctly).
Now as I said, what is being described is really interesting. There’s clearly been a lot of thought put in to how this world, city and school function. But instead of the audience learning about these things as the story progresses we’re hit very quickly with a lot of information and very little happens with the plot or characters for a fair chunk of the relatively short book (okay, it isn’t that much but while reading it, it feels longer). While I didn’t mind it enough to stop reading, I can see a lot of people I know getting quite frustrated with it and just wanting the story to get going. Also the style of narration itself which is very straightforward, isn’t going to be for everyone. It makes sense given the character perspective of the narrator, he is a fairly straightforward person, but it means the writing itself isn’t overly compelling and it is left to the plot to draw the audience in.
However, if you can sit through the exposition, and the apparently mandatory clichés of even original English light novels (being caught naked by a girl before being slapped and being called a pervert), what you actually end up with is a fairly decent volume one of what should be a fairly decent story. The exposition may not be delivered in the best way, but the thought that has been put into things allows a lot of possibilities and the small details have helped to flesh out what might be an otherwise overly generic magic high school. A shallow explanation of the plot would have you drawing comparisons to Harry Potter (or any of the other magic high school stories out there) but the reality of reading it is quite different and it manages to feel like it has its own identity in a fairly crowded sub-genre. That isn’t to say it is totally unique, there’s a lot of elements here you will find elsewhere, but it doesn’t feel borrowed or cobbled together from other works.
I must admit, I really liked Asura by the end of the story. Early on he seemed a little lacking in personality as the narrator as he seemed to just be going through the motions of telling us what was happening to him, but as the story continued he kind of grew on me. I also like that despite being a complete novice with magic, Asura is not completely useless. He’s a well-trained fighter and can look after himself (mostly) even if his opponent has a magical advantage. This not being useless at the beginning of the story, but still having a fair way to grow, is a good choice and makes him a fairly likeable protagonist.
The other characters are all just kind of there at the moment. They are starting to make an impression but really Asura has only just met them so it makes sense that they aren’t fully realised or fleshed out at this point.
It is a shame this volume is as short as it is. While the story ends after a fairly good battle sequence and we see a little of the fall out after the battle, it honestly does feel like this story has only just gotten started (I guess that explains why it was clearly labelled as volume 1). There’s definitely set up here for some really interesting developments further down the line and the protagonist still has plenty of room for growth and it kind of looks like he will grow as a character which is kind of nice.
All and all, I had fun reading this. While there are definitely some moments where coincidence and cliché drive the plot and even though the writing isn’t the best, there’s a lot of potential in this story.
Thanks for reading.
If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.