Book Review: Konosuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonder World: Oh! My Useless Goddess (Yes I am aware the title of this book is overly long)

Okay, so Konosuba I’m not writing out that whole title again is an isekai comedy written by Natsume Akatsuki and is the first novel in a long-running series. (Also for those who don’t know isekai is a Japanese word for other world and will be used frequently in this review). The series follows its protagonist Kazuma Sato as he blunders his way through his journey where the only thing he really has going for him is his above-average luck and genre awareness.

So as mentioned above Konosuba is extensively a comedy. Said comedy is mostly drawn from subverting tropes commonly found in its second genre: Isekai. You see the isekai genre as it currently exists mainly contains teenage male power fantasies; stories where a normal nerd can gain insane amounts of strength, power, and magic with about as much effort as it takes to open a bag of chips. This is not the case for Konosuba’s protagonist however as he is recognized in-universe as one of the weakest adventurers in the guild. Additionally, this is not something that changes later in the book with Kazuma’s biggest achievement by the end of the novel being the fact that he killed a larger-than-normal amount of sentient cabbages during the harvest.

Another bit of comedic subversion in this book is how Kazuma’s team is set up. You see in normal isekai stories the protagonist is typically surrounded by a party whose gender ratio generally leans in the opposite direction to the protagonist, i.e. if the protagonist is male there will be a disproportionate amount of females. However, the subversion with Kazuma’s group is not that they are mostly male but rather the fact that they are completely worthless. With a group that consists of a healer who refuses to do anything unless she’s in crippling debt, a wizard who only knows one spell that can be cast once per day, and a paladin who can’t hit a target that is standing right in front of her Kazuma almost has to play the role of babysitter for the group of idiots that he found himself with.

None of this is to say that Kazuma himself is not also an idiot, he is, just less than the others. For example, the only reason the group’s healer, Aqua, is with the group is because Kazuma dragged her along. You see in this novel Kazuma is brought to his new world after he died a tragic death in our own. Upon dying he met Aqua, who claimed to be a goddess who could send him to a new world with one item or power of his choosing. However since Aqua mocked the way Kazuma died, in an act of pettiness he decided to bring Aqua with him to the new world.

However, I have gushed about this book for long enough and need to finish this review somehow. All in all, I personally believe that if you are a fan of the isekai genre this is a novel worth picking up and if you aren’t this novel still contains its fair share of good jokes.

Spoiler Free Book Review: The Rising of the Shield Hero Volume 1

The Rising of the Shield Hero, by Aneko Yusagi, is the first novel in a long-running series that goes by the same name. The books follow Naofumi Iwatani, an average Japanese college student. One day Naofumi finds a mysterious book in his library that transports him to another world alongside three others.

Those from the world that summon them quickly explain that the four of them are the Cardinal Heroes of legend, destined to save the world from the Waves of Destruction. However all is not as it seems and Naofumi soon finds himself betrayed stripped of his reputation, money, clothes, and everything else except the shield on his arm marking him as a hero. And now that the plot synopsis I can finally begin discussing why this book is so good. One thing this book and series does very well is writing an antihero protagonist. Now, Naofumi isn’t a great person, he commits too many morally dubious actions to qualify as a paragon hero or anything of the sort. At the same time, he also isn’t a heartless monster, as while the other three heroes are focused on fighting big monsters for fame or glory, Naofumi instead focuses on ensuring people are safe. Thus, Naofumi is neither hero nor a villain, he is an antihero, a hero with unheroic qualities.

Now there is definitely more I could touch on with this review but that would result in delving into spoiler territory so I’ll just end off with an overall review. The Rising of the Shield Hero is a well-executed revenge fantasy novel so if you’re a fan of that sort of thing I would recommend checking it out.

Book Review: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

The Demon King, by Cinda Williams Chima, is the first book within the Seven Realms series. The series follows multiple protagonists with the main two being reformed thief Hanson “Cuffs” Alister and princess heir, Raisa ana’Marianna. While the two protagonists have next to nothing in common aside from living in the same city you know that almost no authors would create two protagonists and not have them interact.

I’ll start with Raisa’s P.O.V. first because I personally like it less and I want to get it over with. Being the heir to the throne in her nation Raisa is expected to marry the second she is eligible because this is fantasy medieval Europe and how else would you start teenage rebellion without giving the protagonist something to rebel against? Anyway Raisa’s half of the story basically trying to figure out what kind of Queen she wants to be and which of the two men in her life she likes more; Amon, the son of the captain of the guard and her childhood friend or Micah Bayar, son of the high wizard and a powerful mage in his own right. Ironically, Raisa can’t be with either of them due to age-old magical ceremonies as well as politics. Nothing really gets resolved in this book however because this series has four books and there wouldn’t be a plot if everything got solved in book one.

Now onto my favorite character of the novel Han. Hanson as mentioned above is a reformed thief. Not mentioned above however is the fact that Han was actually the Streetlord of Ragmarket which is basically the equivalent of being a mob boss in real life. This isn’t really relevant to what I’m going to talk about but I just wanted to mention it. Anyway Han’s half of the story is more complicated than Raisa’s which is funny because her half involves politics. Han’s story is two fold; part of it involves him trying to find a legal way to make money to support his family while the other is more complicated. Essentially one day Han and his friend Dancer were on a sacred mountain and found some wizards setting fire to it. In order to stop them Han threatens to put an arrow through their leader and makes him hand over his amulet which is the source of a wizards power in this series. The other half of Han’s story is the tragedies that start occurring because he stole said amulet. 

Personally, I think the reason I liked Han’s character so much was because of his struggle of trying to find honest work, which as someone in the latter half of high school I can sort of relate to. Or it could be my obsession with gentleman thieves showing up, one of the two.

All in all, I think that this book is a pretty good one if you like high fantasy novels.

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.