Goblin Slayer Volume 3 Light Novel Review: It’s A Date, And Goblins

The Harvest Festival is on its way and all the female adventurers and friends suddenly have one thing on their mind. Too bad Goblin Slayer only ever has one thing on his mind – killing goblins.

Previous Reviews

Review:

Of the three volumes I’ve read so far, this one is probably the weakest. And that’s because instead of feeling like we were on some epic adventure (albeit to fight goblins), this one genuinely felt like we were reading a harem based light novel with a wishy-washy protagonist, girls who have no purpose outside of their pursuit of him, and ultimately a conflict that felt like it was thrown in at the end for the sake of having a final fight. And while none of that makes this a terrible read, it certainly wasn’t as compelling as previous entries.

However, the positive would be that Goblin Slayer is given more time to become a bit more humanised in this volume. He’s still the enigma and still has complete tunnel vision for goblin killing, but his interactions with the rest of the cast help to paint a broader picture of his overall personality when removed from blowing up goblin nests. Priestess also comes out of this volume looking reasonably good with her being able to showcase how far she’s grown since the opening of volume 1 where she was the scared little girl in need of rescue.

Goblin Slayer Vol3b

Unfortunately, the rest of the cast, whether it is Guild Girl, Female Knight, Cow Girl, High Elf Archer or Witch, they all just come off looking pretty vapid and silly as they scurry about trying to attract this or that guy’s interest at the festival. Then again, it isn’t as though Dwarf Shaman or Lizard Priest come off any better. While they aren’t trying to attract a partner they seem to spend almost two thirds of the book doing nothing but taking part in various eating and drinking activities.

And that’s more or less the whole problem. Even though Goblin Slayer is preparing for something from the beginning, it is easily dismissed as his usual eccentric paranoia and doesn’t really count as foreshadowing. The disgruntled adventurer is an obvious flag early on, but it doesn’t amount to very much. So by the time things start happening and the much needed goblins arrive (needed because how can he be Goblin Slayer if there are no goblins), the reader is more or less suffering from festival fatigue and it is almost a relief to see the town plunged into danger.

The danger itself though never feels all that real. Unlike in the previous volumes where the Goblins attacked either a farm that was pretty remote or were underground, here they attack a town. There’s very little reason why our plucky adventurers seem to be fighting without back-up given how many adventurers are in the town (and I don’t care how drunk they claim they might be after the festival), and yet the book insists on having the core group take on much larger numbers by themselves. While it is an excellent showcase of their abilities, it kind of pushes plausibility and after a fairly dull set-up it isn’t really much of a payoff.

So I left this volume with mixed feelings because there are some great character moments here for Goblin Slayer and Priestess and the final fight is actually kind of exciting even if it makes little sense in context, but there’s just too much down time here and too many female characters being too cliche female character from a light novel. I’m hoping the next volume picks back up because if this is an ongoing trend with this series I may very well let this one go and that would be a shame. It has been a lot of fun up until this point.


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Karandi James

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Goblin Slayer Volume 2 Light Novel Review: It’s Always Goblins

Goblin Slayer has quite the reputation now and in this volume he’s answering a quest request from the Sword Maiden herself, a Gold-ranked adventurer who apparently fought a Demon Lord.

My review of Volume 1 can be found here.

Review:

While this second volume doesn’t quite have the drawing power of the first, it is a very decent follow up. There is an understanding that while the protagonist is cool and all, he can’t carry the story alone, and so a lot of energy has been put into the support cast. And even while many of these characters do come off a little too one-note at times, they are all quite interesting notes and the interactions between them are always kind of fun.

The reason this novel works so well is that the readers have a soft spot for this cast. We’ve watched them come together and fight off a horde of goblins with a lot of risk and very little reward. We like these characters already and we don’t want them to die. So when the story plunges them headlong into danger there’s an instant hook to make us keep reading. Because even though I know there are plenty of novels to come and therefore it is very unlikely that the main cast are going to die here, abandoning the story when they were still stranded in a sewer never really crossed my mind as a viable option.

Goblin Slayer Vol2b

If I had to complain about any character in this particular volume, it would be the Sword Maiden. I’m not really sure what they were going for. At times she seems super seductive, at others she’s the fragile and damaged adventurer, and others still she just does not seem like she’s a real character. And given she’s the catalyst for the adventure in this volume that’s probably the book’s weakest link.

However, once the quest is accepted and the characters are on their way through the tunnels and facing some fairly hairy situations, using arrows, swords, slings, magic, and whatever else is handy to survive the next encounter, the story moves along beautifully. There’s some fairly tense moments in the darkness and as the characters do come under heavy fire and several of them do sustain some fairly heavy injuries considering they are the main party – a feat the book only gets away with because there’s magic around so ultimately they manage to get the cast back on their feet before the final act.

Basically, if you enjoyed the first story, and you are up for another adventure fighting off a horde of goblins who may have learned a couple of new tricks, then this story will work for you. The writing style remains much the same and is quite enjoyable, the characters are still pretty fun, and the fight sequences manage to be exciting without getting too hectic. I had a lot of fun with this second volume and I’ll be reviewing volume 3 very soon.


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Karandi James

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The Devil is a Part Timer Volume 1 Light Novel Review

The Devil is a Part Timer is one of those rare comedy anime I fell in love with. It was even my very first series review on this blog. So now I’ve tried the light novel. What did I think?

Review:

I’m wondering how I would have taken to this book if I’d never seen the anime. Mostly because, I really didn’t enjoy reading it very much. The few moments of genuine enjoyment I found came when I was remembering how a scene was portrayed in the anime, rather than the words on the page. And given the length of time it took me to finish this as I regularly would stop reading to do literally anything else, kind of indicated I wasn’t getting into it.

Part of that definitely comes from my personal distaste of comedy. While the anime managed to pull off the absurdity of the situation the characters were in the book feels like it is playing it more straight and the whole thing doesn’t quite connect. The other issue being, that when I think of this series in book form, I was expecting something more along the lines of Douglas Adam or at least Pratchett in terms of sardonic tone to the narration and that was utterly missing. As was any tone really.

That isn’t actually an exaggeration. There is literally no personality in the writing here. The dialogue that the characters are given, has personality. The narration does not. Or rather it does but it hasn’t quite committed to the absurdity of the situation and the end result is something quite flat.

For what it is worth, the plot works really well. If you’ve seen the anime, you know it, though you will get a few more details about Emi and some of the politics behind things, but essentially the Demon King lost to the Hero and fled through a gate ending up on earth where there is no magic. As a result, he resorts to working at a fast food restaurant while he waits to reclaim his power, but in the meantime he’s determined to work his way up the management chain to take over the world in the most ordinary of manners. All that would be fine except the hero followed him as well and she wants to make sure he never returns back to their world but she also can’t bring herself to kill him when he’s defenceless.

Devil1b

This plot works well and when both the Hero and Devil King are attacked, the threat plays out really well as does the reluctant teaming up of the two enemies who now have learned to see each other in a different context.

Basically, the plot and the ideas behind it are solid enough if a little undeveloped.

The support cast aren’t used overly well and Chiho tragically gets thrown into the role of love-sick teen followed by damsel in distress with few traits in her favour. While it is all well and good to have her character there, the fact that both Maou and Emi end up protecting her and liking her in their own ways kind of feels like her character should have a bit more going for her than being sweet. And yet, nothing. She doesn’t do or say one interesting thing in the story and exists purely as a plot point. And Alciel is even more ridiculously useless in the novel than he was in the anime and I wouldn’t have thought that was possible.

This is one of those rare cases where for me the adaptation was much better. The comedy worked for me in a visual form with music and the character voices driving the dialogue. As a text, I just didn’t feel it and the story, while it works, isn’t interesting enough without the comedic edge to push it into the realm of memorable.

Lots of people seem to like this one as a light novel, but for me its another pass and I won’t be going on any further with this series.


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Karandi James

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The Seven Princes of the Thousand Year Labyrinth Vol 2 Manga Review

The story of Emperor, the castle and Ewan continue with more dangers and plots in this second volume of the story. If you missed my review of volume 1, check it out here.

Review:

I’m just going to say that covers that give away major plot developments need to seriously be banned. Not that it wasn’t blindingly obvious where that final arc was going and what needed to happen for Ewan to not be dead by the end of Volume 2, but it would be nice to pretend there was some sense of mystery going on here.

That said, much like volume 1, this is a pretty compelling read. It continues to go through a lot of the standard cliches with the traps and dangers the characters are facing, and even the antagonism within the group is all pretty expected, and yet it plays true to it’s story and it works. Ewan’s interactions with the rest of the characters always seem genuine, even if a little bit twee, and at times there definitely seems to be real danger faced by these characters, though so far the story itself hasn’t actually committed to really dealing out permanent damage (certainly small injuries and the illusion of life threatening without actually letting the story get that dark).

Labyrinth2b.jpg

But if you can swallow a heart-to-heart conversation between a guy with a dislocated shoulder who is hanging off a ledge and another guy who is trying to hold his weight, a treasure that more or less confirms what we already suspected, and the inevitable betrayal from someone within the group who is going to kill someone for the good of the country (I always love that line because it just sounds so pretentious), then what you will end up with is a really gripping tale. The characters are more fleshed out in this volume and there’s still plenty of growth potential.

I actually finished this some time ago so I’ve already got the next volume waiting to be read. My biggest issue with this is because it is a manga, I read the entire thing in less than an hour so the cost to time entertained ratio is not quite working out. Even with discounts, the average cost of one of these is the same as a cheap movie ticket so I’d kind of want two to three hours entertainment. That said, I did re-read volume one right before starting volume 2 and I think I’ll read through the two previous volumes again before I finally get to volume 3 so maybe the cost will work out. And that probably explains why I’m not that into manga. It’s just too expensive for the incredibly short read time regardless of how compelling the story might be.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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So I’m a Spider, So What Volume 2 Light Novel Review: Being Reincarnated is Hard

While the game mechanics are still very much going wild, this second volume follows several of the classes reincarnated students through their latest trials and tribulations. If you missed my review of Volume 1, check it out here.

Review:

This is going to be really hard to review because mostly telling you anything about the plot would drop us face first into spoiler territory. While many things can be suspected early on in this volume, it isn’t until the end of it that critical reveals are made and that kind of changes a lot of how you feel about the story.

So I’ll start with my general impression of the book, which is it isn’t all that great to read. Don’t get me wrong, the story and setting are actually quite interesting, but the heavy reliance on levelling and game mechanics really get in the way of the narrative. There are literally entire pages given to reading the main character’s current levels and statuses. I don’t even like reading those when I am playing an RPG and prefer to just guess where abouts I’ve currently levelled to. The last thing I want is the pace of a novel to come to a screeching halt to find out that Recovery Speed is now at LV4 and Cutting Enhancement is at LV2. When you couple those gripping pages with pages of ‘narrator’ dialogue telling the spider that various points are going up, you could probably shed about half the pages in the book without actually denting the story content.

Despite that, the story we get is really interesting and that just annoys me because it means I will read the next book when I can even though the writing itself is really not great.

Lizard.gif
I don’t ever want to reincarnate as a spider.

Still, the spider’s exploits in the labyrinth are kind of fun. The setting varies sufficiently and there is enough detail put into encounters to make it worth the while. More importantly, the human characters on the surface get a lot more time in this book than in book one. Shun in particular is a far more interesting character this time around and… okay, we’re getting back into spoiler territory, but he’s a lot more noteworthy and I enjoyed his story immensely.

Still, this volume is hard to recommend as a read. There are plenty of isekai stories out there about humans in other worlds, being reincarnated as either human or not, and this one isn’t particularly great to read. I’d love to see this story shed of the gimmicky game elements and told with quite a bit more fluency, though perhaps there’s a reason those elements are needed further down the line. For now they just seem to be there because the writer couldn’t think of a better way to show character progress and that by itself is probably a big red flag.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Level 5 Light Novel Review: The Hole of Surprises Isn’t Kidding

If you missed my reviews of the first 4 books, check them out here. The review below will contain spoilers for the previous books.

Review:

Level 5 is an interesting entry into the Grimgar series if only because it seems to be forcing the direction of the story and the characters down a slightly different path. Prior to now day to day survival and the grief of losing friends has stayed first and foremost in the characters minds. They are newbies in a vicious world where mistakes get you killed and that kind of dominated the first four books.

Needless to say, by book 5 a change was needed. Not because what came before it wasn’t good, but because there’s only so many hunting trips where the characters caution each other, or pitched battles where they rely on others and feel regret, that you can read through before it starts to become repetitive. These characters are no longer the newbies in the world and they realise they have to step things up. The end result isn’t flawless and certainly as a story this chapter is probably weaker than the previous entries, and yet the possibilities it presents for future instalments makes me want to keep going.

Let’s look at some specifics. Level 5 sees Haruhiro and the crew still playing in the Wonder Hole and getting into a kind of routine. All of that changes when they discover a new shaft in that isn’t known to the other recruits and they decide they want to claim it as there’s. Unfortunately for them, team Tokimune also stumble upon the discovery and so an uneasy alliances is formed.

This premise has some great potential. For the first time Haruhiro and the others aren’t just following along with the directions they are given. Initially they started goblin hunting in areas they were directed to, and then Mary led them to the mines. The pitched battle was organised by others as well and even their forays in the Wonder Hole were always following the advice they were given about the different areas and dwellers. Moving into unknown territory is a huge step for this group. Also, pairing with another team, while they’ve kind of worked with team Renji before during a battle, allows new characters and interactions and a general shake up of the group dynamics. There’s really a lot of scope being opened up at the start of this book.

Unfortunately there is a major problem fairly quickly. And that is that team Tokimune is made up of nut-jobs and not the fun kind. While one or two eccentrics would be understandable and could even be fun in this setting, an entire team of people who seem like they shouldn’t have survive a week in Grimgar is asking a bit much. Then as these characters dominate a lot of the interactions part of me is almost wishing for Ranta to start shouting again. Oh, but he does that anyway. So we’re left with the worst interactions from the original crew and a new team that aren’t all that interesting (because they are trying to hard to be quirky) or likeable.

Where this volume manages to save itself is that it presents a genuinely interesting challenge for the teams. And as team Tokimune are the ones blundering into things unprepared for once, it makes Haruhiro and his team step up and take the lead, which is quite satisfying to see. While they aren’t instant juggernauts and the threat of death continues to seems very close at all times, these characters are quite pleasing in their new role as the stable support and later the rescue squad.

Grimgar5b.jpg

There’s a very weird series of interactions between Haruhiro and Mimorin from the other team that seem to be indicating that she’s wanting to either adopt him as a pet or maybe she’s falling for him. I’m not really sure but their interactions are weird and the book ends with these two which makes me wonder about how significant this character is overall or whether she’s going to fade away after this one volume.

Overall though, while the book has its good points and weaker parts, it is a very satisfying continuation of a story that I’m pretty engrossed in and I’m looking forward to buying the next books and finding out where it goes.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Are You Alice? Volume 1 Manga Review

While I’m not the biggest manga reader, I was kind of looking forward to this one having read some fairly positive reviews. How does this gender bending tale of Alice in Wonderland go?

Review:

There’s nothing overly original about reworking the classic Alice in Wonderland. Even Ouran High School Host Club had an Alice episode thrown in. However, my issue with Wonderland inspired tales remains the same; too many of them rely on people just accepting weird things happen in Wonderland and don’t really consider how they might make that setting believable other than telling us it is Wonderland.

Alice2.jpg

Are You Alice? very much fell into this camp of stories that introduces characters that are given names connecting them to the original tale, but little is done outside of that to establish their character, background or motive. It is like the write feels you can short-cut all the things that would help the audience connect with a character simply because they are the Hatter or whoever and of course we should know their nature. However, that leaves us with a shallow impression of characters. They wear a facade similar to something we know but they undeniably are acting in different ways in a narrative that actually is interesting, but we’re not given the time to establish anything in its own right as they want to jump into people doing things without providing context.

And maybe that works for some people. They’ll happily just nod and accept the setting as Wonderland and the base starting point for all characters is the established trope that we’re all familiar with.

For me though, it was an ongoing issue while reading this. The Alice but not Alice vibe permeates everything and while I actually like the idea that accepting a name is the same as accepting a role and the journey the ‘Not-Alice’ is on, I never really clicked with anything happening in this volume.

It’s also visually pretty ugly. Not the character designs. They are quite nice and clearly some time and attention went into them. But backgrounds, especially the streets which we spend a long time walking up and down, are all kind of basic ruled lines and while the characters are suitably zany given the setting, Wonderland itself is not portrayed in anyway as being ‘wonderful’.

So this series is going to get a pass from me as I don’t really intend to continue on. I am really curious about how the rules work and about the Alice’s that have come before, and even the White Rabbit, but there were too many things that didn’t work for me in this series to consider reading on.

If you’ve read it, I’d love to know your thoughts.

 


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Karandi James

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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Light Novel Volume 3 Review

As my collection of light novels grows, so does my appreciation for them. For the most part these are quick and bite sized reads that pack a reasonable punch and DanMachi is a series that is definitely sitting well for me.

Review (some spoilers):

  • Volume 1 thoughts here.
  • Volume 2 thoughts here.

Wow. Just wow.

One of my favourite fights in anime history in novel form and it was amazing. I worried as I realised we were approaching the minotaur fight that reading the sequence couldn’t possibly be as interesting as watching it. Generally speaking, reading battle sequences doesn’t interest me all that much. And yet, I was so wrong. This third volume delivers in a way that made me wonder why the anime fight sequence wasn’t even better.

However, I’m kind of skipping ahead in this so let’s take this a bit more logically.

Fight-DanMachi3

This third volume begins with Bell looking out for Lilly as the fallout of volume 2 is kind of dealt with. Lilly isn’t leaving the Soma family but she can’t really go back there either and Hestia isn’t really thrilled with having Lilly around but grudgingly understands her necessity to Bell. This is more or less just closing volume 2 properly and the story doesn’t really get going (unless you really like the usual trope of two girls fighting over the oblivious hero) until Aiz offers to train Bell to fight.

This sequence plays out much the same way as the anime with a few key differences. The physical toll these training sessions take on Bell are far more pronounced in the light novel and we see far more of his internal conflict, both with training, fighting, and dealing with being that close to Aiz than we ever did in the anime. This is really great as it makes the lessons he learns during these brief sessions far more real. Aiz also kind of comes off as an actual character during some of these sessions though she still remains the least interesting cast member here.

During all of this though, we get cuts to Freya and her familia as they set the wheels in motion for a fairly nasty surprise for Bell. As antagonists go, Freya’s kind of run of the mill. She clearly has designs on Bell but she hasn’t actually directly approached him. Not even once. Instead she’s doing that really silly thing that villains do when they sit back and look haughtily down on the scene and play games with their prey. This can kind of be excused by giving her the bored goddess label, but it still doesn’t make for an overly compelling antagonist. That said, as a plot device to kick things in Bell’s life into gear and make things interesting, it works very well. So while I sometimes forget who the responsible party is, I really enjoy the results of some of these set ups.

And the minotaur battle is everything you could ask for.

Fight-DanMachi2

I’m not going to lie. This fight takes up nearly a quarter of the book (50+ pages of a 200 page novel). And it is worth every page. At no point does the conflict get dull or repetitive. I was reading this in bed and that was a terrible idea because I wasn’t putting this book down until the fight was over. And then the next morning I read it again.

There’s a real sense of movement, of panic, of tension, and of a success that is awaiting its chance. The whole sequence is a redemption for Bell, a chance for him to recover finally from his trauma back in book 1 where he could only wait helplessly for death when facing a minotaur.

I love that he isn’t an overpowered juggernaut just cutting through his enemy. Here he’s still outclassed and he’s having to use every ounce of skill he’s learned and ever weapon and trick he’s acquired just to stay alive. Yet he knows he must somehow break through and actually win and he continues to look for his chance and his moment. It is a brutal fight and absolutely thrilling.

So, yeah, I really loved this book and I can’t wait for the next one.

If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought of this.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Let’s All Write A Book – Chapter 2 – Part 8

I’d like to thank Scott  for tagging me, though I’m going to point out the thought of trying to write part of a story I don’t know the end of is kind of terrifying as I don’t have a clue if what I’m adding is actually helping the plot along. Still, this has been a fun project to watch develop and I had quite a bit of fun trying to figure out what should happen.


THE RULES FOR THIS STORY TAG:

  1. Copy the post you’ve been tagged from the rules down (with the links)
  2. Go here and read the rules
  3. Write your name and link it to one of your posts (The main character is called NoGender, and as the name indicates, does not have a gender, so if you want to speak in the third person use the word “it”)
  4. Write your paragraph (max 300 words with 100 words margin, so basically you can go further until 400)
  5. Tag someone’s post who wasn’t tagged before and say the following rule in the same phrase “You have 3 days to accept this tag”
  6. If the person you tagged doesn’t answer or doesn’t want to participate tag other person (again, tag a post and not a page)
  7. Write the Title “Let’s All Write a Book | Chapter 2 | Part X”,  being X your paragraph
  8. If you are writing Part 10 link it to Arthifis again
  9. Copy and paste at the end of your post all the people who have already been tagged in chapter 1, unless it says the contrary you can’t tag them again;
  10. People who said they want to be tagged again, if you do get tagged and write a part for this chapter delete the part where it says that you want to be tagged again in the list, the idea is to have only one tag for each chapter.
  11. To read Chapter 1 go here

CHAPTER 2

ARTHIFIS – CHAPTER 2.1

The seven maisters had created a circle with NoGender and Ligeia in the center. They also had diminished the light of the room and now the only light present was coming from the 7 candles positioned at the front of each maister making scary shadows in their faces.

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 9.25.26 pm.png

Below of NoGender and Ligeia was a complex diagram written in blood, its center starting where their bodies finished. NoGender was scared, he didn’t know what was happening and it had received zero explanations. Ligeia had used all the time for explanations arguing and saying she didn’t want to do this, that she didn’t know NoGender and they were asking too much of her. However, after a while she understood this was an argument she wouldn’t win, she accepted defeat and decided to go along.
– Very well! – One of the maisters said, NoGender could not pinpoint which one – The time is near, you need to strength your bond before the time runs out. What you did in that library is just too rare and in the timing that happened… We can’t just say this is a coincidence. I’m not one to believe in destiny, but maybe you will prove me wrong. In conclusion, we can’t let this opportunity pass by, you need to become one before the time runs out and your wavelengths stop being in accordance.
– You will do the test of the tests. However, I’m afraid to say that it will only become harder from here. We will transport your souls to the spirit World. There you will need to find your way, work together and be able to come back. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s imperial for you to reach plenitude and reach your full potential. Water and Soul need to become one.
After this being said, everyone went silent and, without warning, all seven maisters started mumbling in unison some kind of spell in a language which NoGender did not recognize.
Wind, water, fire and earth, the four elements appeared and started circulating NoGender and Ligeia. It started to get more condensed and closer to them until the moment where anyone from outside would only see a multi coloured ball in the center of the diagram.

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NoGender didn’t know what he was feeling, he just knew that it was not good! When he though he would not be able to take it anymore and just throw up, everything went black.


SHADDOWCAT99 – CHAPTER 2.2

The shroud of black that enfolded NoGender and Ligeia D. Mortem slowly began to disperse, revealing to NoGender that they were both still standing in the circle. It looked around confused, it seemed as though nothing had happened, until looking down it could see both of their unconscious bodies laid at their feet. Feet that were no longer quite touching the ground.
A hazy mist had separated the two of them from the maisters and NoGender couldn’t hear anything they said, even though it was pretty sure they were still speaking or chanting. Where are we? NoGender tried to ask the Necromancer, but rather then actually speaking it felt like its words were snatched away from its mind and blown away in a fierce wind.
Her head snapped around sharply and she glared at NoGender with her sharp green eyes. Her words too, came from somewhere other, Did you not pay attention in the one class that I teach! We are in the spirit world!
She pointed upward towards the ceiling, but as NoGender looked up he saw that the ceiling was no longer there and that instead it was replaced by a seemingly infinite expanse of great lights. They were not stars, they were too large, or perhaps to small for that.

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Ligeia reached over and grabbed NoGender by the arm, which now appeared to be attached to a shoulder that was whole again, and began to pull on it as she moved upwards towards the lights. When they began to move, any sensation of being solid left NoGender and if it had still had a working stomach, any leftover breakfast would have left it.
Where are we going? What’s Happening? It asked.
Without stopping for an instant, Ligeia’s soundless answer traveled back to NoGender, to see what we must do to begin the trials. I would like to get home as soon as possible and I ask you to do your best to not get killed.


THE SPOOKY RED HEAD – CHAPTER 2.3

Ligeia heads towards the room’s exit, leaving NoGender behind to catch up. Once at the door, NoGender reaches out to grab the handle. A silent gasp escapes NoGender’s lips as its hand goes straight through the solid object.
NoGender hears a scoff coming from somewhere. It glances up to see a head shaking with disapproval, sticking out through the middle of the door. “Where’s rest of your body?” NoGender mumbles, voice echoing around the room and averting its gaze from Ligeia’s floating head.
Ligeia’s head just snickers, “You’re sure taking your sweet time. Keep this up and you’ll be dead within the hour.”
NoGender freezes at the mention of death, again. It shifts awkwardly from side to side as it tries to purge its mind of dark thoughts about its corpse being mangled, tangled, or anything else.
“You coming or not?” Ligeia prompts, gesturing with a swish of her head for NoGender to follow.
So, ignoring the strange tingling sensation now in its hand, NoGender pushes its entire body through the door.
“We have to go into the forest first,” Ligeia informs NoGender once NoGender’s through the door. “That’s where the first trial will be.”
“But I’m a water-bender!” NoGender interjects, its voice now resonating more in the open hallway.
Ligeia snorts, “Any idiot can bend when they’re surrounded by their own element. It takes actual talent for someone to complete their trials in different elemental places though.”
But before NoGender can argue the point further, Ligeia ushers NoGender towards an open window at the end of the hall. NoGender peers out over the sill and sees the forest that surrounds the west wing of the school, stretching out for miles.
“Here we go!” Ligeia calls, and dives out of the window.
“Wait!” NoGender cries. NoGender leans out over the sill, feeling its eyes widen and its forehead crease together with worry. NoGender searches for any signs of Ligeia.

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“You’re not in your physical body right now!” Ligeia calls up at NoGender from the ground, seemingly unharmed. “So nothing from the physical world can hurt you here! I mean, of course your physical body can still be damaged… But don’t worry! The maisters will look after them for us!”
“That’s reassuring,” NoGender mutters darkly under its breath, before jumping off of the sill.


AURI CHAPTER-2.4

NoGender landed with a jarring impact. It cursed under it’s breath, “I thought you said nothing can hurt me Ligeia!”
Ligeia’s head smirked at it from above, “Well, what’s the point of a trial if you can’t feel the pain of your mistakes huh NoGender? Don’t worry, the injury won’t be there, you’ll only feel the pain. Now, stop dilly dallying and start walking already.”

‘Dilly-dallying?’, NoGender frowned and followed Ligeia’s bobbing head. ‘She’s enjoying this a little too much….’

After walking for what seemed like an hour, NoGender finally lost it’s patience, “Ligeia is this trial a test of patience or wha-”

It was interrupted by a shrill scream. “DEMON! GO AWAY!”

When NoGender looked around to see who it was, it came face to face with a pretty young girl on her knees, trembling with fear and trying to push away Ligeia’s floating head.

“H-Hey Ligeia! Get away from her!” NoGender pushed Ligeia’s head away and offered it’s hand to the young girl, “Don’t be scared, she’s not a demon.”

The girl, her eyes wide stared at it’s hand before grasping on tightly. A little too tightly.

“Y-You! You’re a water bender right? P-Please. Give me some water. I beg you! I’m going to die! Please!”, she began to sob and beg NoGender.
Surprised, it turned to look at Ligeia for some help.

“If she’s here, it’s for a reason NoGender. You should leave her.” Ligeia’s face was grim.

“NO! PLEASE! I’M SO THIRSTY!” The girl began to scream and fell to NoGender’s feet, “Please! I’m begging you! Water! Water. Please.”

NoGender noticed her hoarse throat and her slightly shriveled skin. It looked to Ligeia again. She shook her head (Or rather herself), “You shouldn’t. Leave her and come.”

The girl sobs grew more desperate and NoGender shuddered, “I- I have to. It would be unfair not to….”
Against Ligeia’s warnings NoGender concentrated on the ground beneath it’s feet. It took every bit of it’s effort and concentration but a rivulet of water broke the ground.
The girl gasped in joy and jumped towards it, gulping and drinking with deranged intensity.

Ligeia tsked, “Idiot.”

“Huh?”

A sharp pain came from NoGender’s side. It yelped and looked only to find the young girl gnawing at it’s skin. It’s blood ran down her chin and her eyes were bright with lust.
“More. More. MORE!”

“There’s a reason some people shouldn’t be helped. Take this as your first lesson.”


KEIKO – CHAPTER 2.5

No Gender looked on in utter shock as the girl began to lick the blood as if this was her last life line. When something is taken away from someone for so long and then they are given but a brief taste of it, their response is always the same; they desire more. What No Gender was seeing wasn’t just lust or desperation. This was something more akin to a forced fed addict whose supply had been cut off only to be given the briefest taste of heaven.

No Gender forced the girl off of it and took a couple of steps back as horror masked its face. The girl was on all fours now, hair covering her face as she began crawling towards him, still chanting her mantra of “More, more, more”.

The horror of what it witnessed only stayed a while as No Gender began to understand what it had done as the words from earlier echoed in its head. It had been told countless times that the water created by a water bender is different to natural water that is part of the earth. As a water bender, No Gender had the ability to control all aspects of water in all its states but there was more to it than just that. The element created by any bender is infused with their personalities, making each water bender’s water different. In colour and in taste. No Gender knew this. It also knew that because of this, drinking water created by a bender, though not forbidden, was inadvisable. After all, the taste of the water can be anything. It can be sweet like honey, intoxicating like alcohol, or even lethal like poison.

That was not all. How did this girl, someone it had no recollections of ever meeting or seeing, know that it was a water bender? It hadn’t mentioned it and neither had Ligeia but somehow this child, this girl, knew. And yet, she displayed a thirst, an addiction, to a water she had only ever tasted once.

This was a girl it should never have helped.


SHOUJO — CHAPTER 2.6

NoGender stared, eyes wide and quivering, as this demonic creature—for could it truly be called human?—suddenly stopped and rolled upward like a corpse reanimated. The disturbing fluidity with which it reared called to mind something from a long forgotten nightmare. NoGender swallowed once, and the creature pinned an eye—once blue, now a hollow, iris-less black—on them from behind its tangled mass of auburn hair. It howled in unholy anguish, clawing at its own neck with nails suddenly grown so very long, and through the cacophonous sound still echoed remnants of a single discernible word: more, more more.

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How could they have made this costly mistake after being warned so many times to stay away from reliance on their power to meet another’s mortal needs? How quickly had NoGender forgotten this most important of lessons in light of a sweet, young face in agony?

The creature’s claws drew blood as they dug deeper into its throat when, without warning, it launched itself at NoGender, flying forward with force enough to move the ground beneath it. It slammed into NoGender at breakneck pace, and the two went tumbling to the solid earth below. There was no time for acclamation as the creature bit deeply into NoGender’s neck and began to suckle greedily on their life’s blood. NoGender screamed, a long and painful echo through the twilight-dusted trees.

Through the haze of pain and their own howls of anguish—distinguishable from the burning of the creature’s now protruding teeth buried deeply into NoGender’s flesh—they could feel on their face an altogether different sensation.

Their burning cheek was wet.

This creature—the inhuman thing feasting obscenely on their blood—was crying.

And in their mind, NoGender heard an echo.

“Kill me. Kill me. Please.”


SCOTT – CHAPTER 2.7

With the creature sucking, it didn’t see a way out of this.  NoGender’s strength was slowly leaving it as the creature was slowly digging further and further into it’s inner body mass. There seemed to be no way out of this for NoGender. It was still young and there were so many things NoGender wanted to achieve still. Death from a creature that was seeking its own death seemed ironic and inevitable at this point. It prepared a final prayer for itself in it’s seemingly final moments.

That was until NoGender felt heat out of nowhere. NoGender’s face was on the ground, so it had no way of knowing where it came from. Things got better, because the creature on NoGender’s back started shrieking in pain and then the creature’s weight was gone. There was nothing else consuming its flesh anymore. Maybe it will live after all.

With the removal of the weight from his back removed, there was a soft but firm grip that helped NoGender to it’s feet. Having expected its savior to be Liegia, because that’s the only person NoGender knew was in the spirit realm, it was surprised to see their speckled classmate Fernelle.

“Fernelle, what? How did you get here?”

“Well, um, that’s ah um, a complicated story. Something about me dying and slowly returning to the normal realm.” Fernelle shyly adjusted her glasses.

“Whatever the reason is, thank you. Thank you so much.” NoGender started crying.

Fernelle looked around not knowing what to do for a few seconds, but she decided that the best thing she could do was just put an arm around it and provide comfort. They both turned to the dying creature burning up on the ground. There was an odd beauty about the thing having a smile on its face while burning into ash. NoGender nodded knowing that this is what the creature wanted.

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“Let’s get you back home.” Fernelle motioned toward a vague direction to their left. She felt something calling her back to the mortal realm in that direction.

“No yet.” NoGender had a determined face under it’s tears. “I still have to pass my trial.”

“You can’t handle this on your own. At least let me helped you.” Fernelle urged.

Unsure where to go, NoGender and Fernelle slowly walked to where it first met the creature. A few minutes later, Liegia ran up to them completely out of breath.

She looked at Fernelle with a confused look.


Karandi – Chapter 2.8

“Unexpected,” Liegia murmured more to herself than to NoGender, but it seemed as though she’d made a decision as she’d uttered the word. “Up ahead, take the path to the right,” she instructed and then promptly disappeared.

Looking around, Fernelle’s eye’s widened. “Could she always do that?”

“No idea.” NoGender peered at the trees ahead of them and wondered whether it would be wise to follow Liegia’s counsel this time given the disaster last time NoGender had ignored her advice. Still, there was something about her tone that had NoGender concerned. “Are you coming?”

Fernelle nodded and the two of them pressed forward. They soon found where the path split, with the left side winding into the trees and disappearing from sigh and the right side angling down and seemingly disappearing into a cavern.

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“Would it be too much to ask that common-sense prevail and we don’t go traipsing about a cavern in the dark?” NoGender demanded of the sky. Naturally it didn’t respond and NoGender was almost disappointed by that.

“Come on,” Fernelle whispered but grabbed NoGender’s arm as she started moving forward.

“I don’t suppose you could give us a light down there?” NoGender asked.

“Sure. I certainly could do that. But, you know, things that live in caves tend to not really like it when you start illuminating their home.”

“Wouldn’t that only be true if this were in the physical world? I  mean, I’m not exactly worried about running into a bear in there.”

Fernelle giggled. “Bear in there.”

The path was slippery so they didn’t talk again as they concentrated on reaching the cavern entrance without slipping and then they simply stopped and stared. The cavern mouth stretched open wide and was lined with vines that draped part way down. There was the sound of water trickling within and that was the first time NoGender felt even a little optimistic about entering the cavern. Inside there was water. And from the smell, probably a lot of it.

NoGender was about to suggest they enter when a sound rumbled from within the cavern and enveloped them. It shook NoGender to the core and NoGender felt its limbs turn to jelly. Then the sound came again and NoGender collapsed onto its knees.


I’m going to throw this over to Lita Kino(you have three days to accept this tag – let me know if you pass). Hopefully you can have some fun with it. Or at least figure out where it is supposed to be going, which is something I think I still failed to do.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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The One Liner Challenge

Thanks GeekOut South West for the nomination. I’m terrible at getting around to these tags and have a few others that I still haven’t responded to, but with Full Metal Panic not airing an actual episode this week I had an empty slot in my schedule and this looked like it would be a lot of fun.

  • Accept and thank your challenger(s) by linking back to their post.
  • Make a post of one-sentence summaries/roasts of at least five books/manga/anime/games.
  • No spoilers!
  • Link back to The Awkward Book Blogger so she can see your post.
  • Challenge as many or as few people as you want!

Okay, let’s take on this challenge. I’m going to take on anime, though part of me is tempted to do this challenge again for books or games at some point. I don’t think I’ve read enough manga yet to do the challenge with that, unless BL counts in which case the one sentence summaries will all end up more or less the same.

VampireKnight4
Tortured teen love triangle occasionally interrupted by vampire/hunter politics.
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Feisty teen book worm kicks butt with transforming human weapon – and has daddy issues.
black butler.jpg
For the price of a soul get one pretty boy butler who can do literally everything perfectly.
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Down on her luck Nanami goes from being homeless to being a god in one day with added perk of pretty fox boy servant.
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Why wouldn’t you call on a clumsy, ditsy, crybaby and a group of middle-school girls to save the world from the forces of darkness?

I’m not actually going to nominate anyone specifically given my terrible track record of getting around to answering nominations, but I would throw the challenge out there to anyone who is interested in this. It was actually quite a bit of fun.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Patreon2           Thoughts on Anime           74iz