The Crimson Vow Facing Hunters, Bandits, and Family Members
For those who missed it, I reviewed Volume 1 of this series two weeks ago. And yes, I did in fact buy and read the next three volumes pretty much immediately on completion of that review. So needless to say the first book left a positive impression and it was exactly the kind of fun and silly adventure I needed right at that moment. But now we need to talk about the next three volumes and where the story goes because whether you jump into this series or not will probably depend on whether you like the direction it takes.
Start the adventure with Volume 1: Available from the Book Depository
Now there were a number of things I really loved about the first book of this series. Most notably that the protagonist seemed a bit different from the standard isekai fare and there was a cute exuberance to the story. The protagonist is still different from the normal teenage loner male that we see so often in these stories and the story is still working on that cute exuberance as we pull into volume 4, but I’m going to be honest and say that mid-way through volume 4 I was starting to find it all a little too repetitive.
This impression isn’t aided by the number of times the novels have to remind you that other characters think Mile is an airhead, or the number of times it explains how her ‘storage’ magic works, or even the number of times it reminds us of the perils of hunters getting a failing mark for a quest. It seems if it has told us once they then need to tell us at least half a dozen times and honestly I started to wonder if the books are written for people who routinely bang their heads into walls and forget key details.
Equally, there is a problem that Mile is not a developing character. She reincarnated and worked to find her groove in the new world and now she’s done that. She may pull off a new spell or try some new way of using the nanomachines to do something weird (like make soy sauce) but essentially she hasn’t changed or moved as a character since about three quarters of the way through book one.
Conversely, things we actually need reminding about just pass us by. For instance a character introduced in book one is mentioned again in book 3 without any lead in or context and we’re just expected to remember he was the guy Mile helped back in hunter school. Given everything else they repeatedly hammer us with it seemed like a slightly better lead in would have been welcome.
That doesn’t mean these characters aren’t delightful. To be honest, the chemistry between the members of the Crimson Vow is incredibly well written and maintained. These girls really feel like a genuine group of friends. However, after three books of the girls being friends and defeating all foes including dodgy business owners as C Class Hunters (ask how many times they remind us they are C Class) you kind of feel like some more direction in this plot might be nice.
See, book one set up the whole Mile running away from her home kingdom and the King and Princess looking for her. While this plot line kind of continues with rare glimpses of the Wonder Trio of friends making their own way into the hunting world in order to one day reunite with Mile, basically it has become irrelevant and there’s no sense of urgency or that anyone is seriously pursuing Mile.
Now for those who like their cute adventure girls who go on adventures and are cute, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the plot as delivered in books 2 – 4. However, it all feels more like filler in an avoidance of a central plot. Like the author is almost afraid that if they actually wrote the main story line they’d have to then come up with a new idea rather than just sending the group of girls out again and again. Though this criticism could be levelled at a large number of long running books series (not just light novels) that seem determined to forever throw new obstacles in the path of the heroes in order to continue on indefinitely.
And the end of book 4 looks like they are going in pursuit of yet another goal that may or may not have any overall consequence.
The enjoyment part comes from whether you actually like this material and what it adds to our understanding of these characters and the world. On this note, book 3 is probably the best of the bunch as the conflict the girls face directly involves the families of two of the members of the Crimson Vow (Pauline and Mavis). While the end result is exactly what you would expect, it did do some nice fleshing out for these characters and their perspectives.
Book 4 though at least brought in some interesting inter-kingdom and inter-species politics as well as a fight with a wyvern and then an elder dragon so it is hard to say that nothing of consequence happens. These challenges do push our main group and even though it seems almost assured they’ll be fine (largely because like everything else they tell us a million times that as long as people aren’t killed healing magic can fix most things) there’s some fairly tense moments in these fights.
I’ve had a lot of fun with these books and to be honest I’ll probably continue the series at some point. However the absence of a clear direction (or the absence of any kind of desire on the author’s part to pursue it) means that the need to rush into the next book has kind of faded. Still, these were very easy binge books and despite my complaints I found it very hard to put them down in order to actually go to sleep and was playing the ‘one more page’ game for nearly an hour one night and then just finished the book.
There’s definitely a lot of potential fun in reading this series so far and the characters remain delightful even if they seem fairly fixed. I might wish the writing was a little less repetitive but it flows reasonably well and the overall tone of the books is highly enjoyable. If you aren’t needing a driving plot then you will probably find a lot to enjoy about this series and for those who like a plot it isn’t as though it doesn’t seem to have one. Each book reminds us of past events and seems to be positioning people and ideas for future use. It is just a matter of when they’ll actually capitalise on all that set up.
Continue Crimson Vow’s Journey in Volume 2: Available from the Book Depository
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