Reign of the Seven Spellblades Novel 2 by Global Anime

AbraxasDecember 13, 2021


Reign of the Seven Spellblades is not a series that enjoys revealing too much. In the field of light novels, where authors often indulge in oversharing their worldbuilding and over-writing their descriptions, this definitely stands out as a novelty, and this second volume continues to play its cards close to its vest. Most immediately striking is the fact that Bokuto Uno doesn’t spend any time at all recapping the events of volume one. The assumption is that you’ve read the first book and therefore don’t need to be caught up in its events; you know them, let’s move on. Since the previous volume was released in English some time ago – December of 2020, to be precise – that does mean that you may need to refresh your memory a bit, specifically about Oliver and what his true purpose is. Even if you don’t have that book handy, though, the story is interesting enough that a less-than-perfect memory of events doesn’t really detract.

The plot opens six months into the school year at Kimberly, the decidedly unfriendly magic school the characters attend. After the deadly events of the previous volume things are settling down at least a little, with everyone mostly finding their place and learning how not to get killed, either by other students, the more unscrupulous teachers, or the school itself. Things derail almost immediately when Oliver’s roommate Pete, who comes from a nonmagical family, wakes up to discover that his body has done something unforeseen in the night – namely, he changed genders. This is the major piece of lore for the volume: the fact that magically gifted people can sometimes become “reversi,” meaning that their bodies switch between genders. Pete, not being from a magical lineage, is understandably surprised and upset, and the first half of the book deals with Oliver and the others helping him through. It is worth noting that because Pete identifies as a boy, regardless of what his body is doing, the text continues to use male pronouns for him; another reversi character identifies as genderfluid and uses they/them pronouns, so the use of he/him is deliberate where Pete is concerned. For the most part, Pete’s new status as reversi doesn’t change things at all for the friend group (although there is the distinct possibility that it could change his relationship with Oliver later on), but instead functions as a way for Uno to describe how magic flows through the human body and the differences gender can make in that. Chela’s (pronounced the Italian way, “Kayla,” since it’s short for Michela) explanation of this does smack of infodump, if only in that it doesn’t feel like natural dialogue. But given how unhinged most of the teaching staff at Kimberly is, there really weren’t any good options for someone safe to explain things; even if a teacher did, we’d have to be concerned that they were planning to use Pete for some kind of experiment.

The situation with the teacher that Oliver “dealt” with in the previous volume runs like an undercurrent through the novel, although it doesn’t directly inform the plot this time. There is a new substitute to replace him, but mostly the teacher who thinks that Katie’s stance about nonhuman magical creatures deserving rights fills the “awful adult” role this time, albeit in a very limited capacity. Mostly she seems to be in the book to remind us why our band of protagonists is often figuring things out by themselves: Kimberly is a teacher-eat-student school, and self-sufficiency is likely the actual key to survival and eventual graduation. This idea directly ties into the battle royale proposed by Rossi, another first-year, to determine who is the strongest. He (and another student named Albright) is partly motivated by the inherent prejudices against people from nonmagical families, like Nanao and Pete, but the situation is quickly revealed to be more complicated than that. We already knew about that bias from the first novel, and now Uno adds the twisted ways of the magical aristocracy to the mix. Chela’s family is absolutely among them, and the advent of her father and cousin demonstrates how competition and the drive to pass along “pure” bloodlines can wreak havoc on relationships – havoc that can and does directly contribute to the unhealthy situation at Kimberly. While this plotline is a bit more heavy-handed than it needs to be, it does expand the story’s scope in that we understand a little better what Chela is coping with under her ultra-competent exterior while adding to the civil rights plotline introduced in the first volume.

Although the story doesn’t bog itself down with recaps of previous storylines, the writing is given to repetition of another sort. Uno appears to have very few tools at their disposal for describing characters, largely sticking to hair color or style on that front. The overuse of the term “ringlet” for Chela and her father makes the word start to lose all sense of meaning, and the laughably spelled “Azian” every single time Nanao is mentioned gets very grating. The setting is well-described, giving us enough of a sense of the labyrinth and the classrooms to form our own images of it, but character writing is heavy-handed to the point of absurdity. Nanao also comes off as something of a caricature, although that may be deliberate, or at least a byproduct of Uno trying to drive home the fact that she’s Asian while the other characters are European.

Despite its issues, Reign of the Seven Spellblades is still an interesting series in its second volume. The plot doesn’t rely on recaps and is still darker than the average magic school story, but not in the grimdark sense, either. There’s still a lot to be desired in the character writing front, but overall this feels less like “yet another” and more like its own story, and that can only be a good thing.



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