We are back with Fran, Teacher and Jet as I continued reading the light novel series Reincarnated as a Sword. I enjoyed the first three volumes well enough and so continued though I’ve now run out of new volumes in this particular title for a little bit and will have to wait before I get to do my next binge read.
Though I did note that the Book Depository does have up to volume 11 so it probably won’t be too long before I’m placing another order.
Is Reincarnated as a Sword a series worth continuing?
There’s a real simplicity to the formula that the novels of Reincarnated as a Sword seem to take with Fran and Teacher (accompanied by Jet) heading off to the next leg of their journey to a destination usually determined in the previous book. Something disrupts the journey to make it a bit interesting and Fran will usually meet someone who will either end up being very helpful or will betray her later and be cut down to size.
Then there will be some mid-book antics where Fran trains a bit, has some sparring matches (though one of these is a cooking contest and more on that later), eats a lot of food, and does some basic relationship building and learns more about the world and the Black Cats (you know some actual plot stuff).
And each book has a final act that involves a massive fight of some sort. Whether that is a city destroying mutated monster, a ridiculously overblown battle at sea or whatever else they decide to throw Fran’s way. It gives us a satisfying and dynamic fight to close out the events in the location where Fran is and she then either prepares to part ways or they kind of indicate where the next step of her journey is.
The benefit of this structure is that every book of Reincarnated as a Sword, while it does continue on the overall journey and world building as well as the ongoing plot involving the Black Cats losing their ability to evolve and some of the politics that are going on, feels like it almost could be stand-alone. Every book concludes on a satisfying note which makes me even more enthused about reading more.
However there is a downside and that is that each book introduces a different localised threat or conflict for Fran and Teacher to face and depending on how interesting you find that may very well make your enjoyment of that volume variable compared to another.
For instance volume 4 was almost a disappointment for me. After being pretty happy with books 1 – 3 and writing my initial review, I was almost instantly left with a sour taste as Fran arrived in her latest location and, after someone from the Chefs guild dared to criticise the curry her teacher made, announces she’s going to enter a cooking competition.
It was such a left turn for Reincarnated as a Sword and felt so out of place. It was very similar to how I felt when the anime How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom suddenly started up a cooking show in the middle of the episode. You know, they’d been dealing with relatively sensible agricultural, political and economic reforms up until that point and while I get that he was addressing a food shortage, the method just seemed so random (weirdly that tonal shift occurred in episode 4 so maybe people just think at 4 all the characters in isekai stories should cook).
Ultimately, I kept reading and while the cooking contest itself never thrilled me, the conspiracy in the background of the story did and the final act of book is actually pretty intense. It at least did enough to keep me reading to book 5 and honestly I think books 5 – 8 have really just found their flow and groove.
Fran and Teacher’s relationship at the centre of the story in Reincarnated as a Sword is rock solid and works at holding the overall plot together.
Whether you appreciate the levelling up and skills components will depend on your tolerance for game mechanics in fantasy but here it doesn’t feel too intrusive.
The supporting cast in each location end up being a mixture of fun characters, antagonistic characters to add some tension, rivals, mentors and whatever else is needed and most of these feel fairly fleshed out given most of them only really appear in the one book before Fran moves on (some are lucky and get to hang around for a second book).
If I was to pick one character that doesn’t quite get utilised well it would be Jet.
Reincarnated as a Sword introduced Fran’s familiar Jet and at first he seemed like a valuable member of the team and a character in his own right (even if he was a dire wolf). Yet increasingly he seems like a plot short cut with Jet being responsible for transport between locations and evasions in fights but does little else to advance the plot and hasn’t really had any solid character moments. Even in the big fights, he frequently gets put on distract the small fry duty and then we don’t actually see how his battle plays out.
It’s a little disappointing but a small issue in the grand scheme of things.
Basically, Reincarnated as a Sword remains light fantasy reading and if that is what you are after then you will get your fill of adventures, dungeons, monster threats, and flying talking swords.
Reincarnated as a Sword by Yuu Tanaka is available from the Book Depository and Amazon.
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