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WN Review: Release that Witch Ch 1 – 25

Year: (completed)
Author: Er Mu
Genre: Seinen, Fantasy, (transmigration) Isekai, Drama, Action, Adventure, Romance

I first came across Release That Witch via a webtoon adaptation last year. Given how much I enjoyed that adaptation, I was intrigued when I discovered that it was based on a web novel. It was a no-brainer to check out a series that reached its conclusion after nearly fifteen-hundred chapters that range between a thousand and two thousand words in length. Yep, that is a LOT of instalments. In any case, here are my thoughts on the first twenty-five chapters.

Chen Yan is a hardworking engineering that finds himself transmigrated into the body of fourth prince Roland Wimbleton who is currently overseeing a backwater border town (aptly named Border Town) as part of a competition between the royal siblings to prove themselves worthy of the throne. As the loser prince, he has one of the worst starting positions. However, the newly reborn Chen Yan sees an opportunity to turn this seemingly bad situation around. He saves a young woman named Anna sentenced to be execution for being a witch and employs her. With her abilities as well as his management skills and knowledge of science, Chen Yan begins to shore up the defenses of the region ahead of the hibernal raid of monsters. This soon leads to him making contact with the enigmatic Nightingale, a member of the Witch Cooperation Association.

PLOT & CONFLICT
This series begins with Chen Yan about to oversee the execution of the young woman who he will later employ. Delaying the execution in order to grow accustomed to his new body, the young engineer begins impersonating Roland using merged memories in order to avoid discovery. He is also curious about the world with his innate scepticism about the nature of a witch and his lack of trust in a church dragging people off to be executed on weak allegations informs some of his decision to employ Anna. The desire for justice and to follow the line of evidence makes for a compelling reason to butt against the system. This inevitably puts the entire region at odds with the kingdom that enforces discriminatory laws as well as the church in the midst of an inquisition.
The first twenty-five chapters put in place several ticking clocks. The first is the five-year deadline for the competition for the throne that pits each of the royal siblings against each other. The second is the upcoming raids of tainted creatures upon Border Town and other nearby communities. The third is the change that occurs to most witches when they turn eighteen years of age – something that will soon affect seventeen-year-old Anna.
The competition for the crown provides its own share of possibilities for future storytelling and I really look forward to seeing how the four candidates compete with each other. The conflict has already affected the lives of many, with something as simple as an egg having a huge impact on those living under Roland’s jurisdiction. A lot of authors take these small details for granted. However, these tell us very human stories in the harsh reality that is the wretched world that Chen Yan has transmigrated to.

CHARACTERISATION
The male lead Chen Yan / Roland 2.0 is a lot of fun to see in action. Chen Yan is essentially trying to “stay in character”, whilst staying connected with his identity as the modern-day engineer with a knowledge of science and progressive ideas such as “three meals a day”. He is a character that follows the evidence rather than being led by the nose. This simple trait makes him an admirable trait because he is appropriately sceptical. He is also a character that looks for solutions rather than wallows.
The female lead of Anna (a flame witch with an eidetic memory) is so well-placed and we see how the little things that her employment offers impacts her life in major ways. Something as simple as a soft bed is a big deal. Chen Yan’s faith in her is rewarded by her trying to do her best. She is a character looking for a purpose and a place to call home. And yet, she is also somebody that tries to adapt to crap situations. Simply complaining won’t get you anywhere, after all. In addition to this is the obvious affection that Anna has for Roland and is becoming more irritated with him as he is treating her as a younger sister. Yep, a bit of an anime/manga convention, but it does a good job of showing rather than telling us that she wants to be his waifu.

The other cast members are impactful, providing information (sometimes flawed), expertise and advice without it feeling convenient or like an infodump. We also learn about the world through the eyes of various side characters. This ranges from the often-anxious finance minister Barov (suggests killing witnesses to Anna’s release early on) to the straight-forward yet just Knight Commander Carter Lannis, Anna’s sceptical teacher Karl to Iron Axe the valiant hunter. These characters have their own strengths and weaknesses that make them feel authentic.
We also get to meet the heavily-motivated (and murderous) third princess Garcia Wimbleton in the first twenty-five chapters. As a major rival to the competition for the throne, she focuses much of her efforts through investment into maritime fleets used for plundering, all the while working on ways to remove any rivals permanently. Whilst we saw a bit of this in the webtoon, there is a lot more detail in the web novel, which emphasises what she is willing to do to win the competition.

MVP of chapters one to twenty-five? If I had to choose then it would hands-down be the witch Nightingale, a woman seeking a safe haven for witches. This desire initially puts her at odds with Roland because she isn’t convinced that he can protect Anna and Nana from the church’s teachings. However, she is also willing to be persuaded, which makes her both a reasonable and caring leader of a witch association.

One thing that I did notice in the web novel is that Roland and Anna have different coloured hair from in the webtoon.

  • Webnovel
    • Roland: silver / grey hair (Wimbleton family trait)
    • Anna: “flaxen” hair
  • Webtoon
    • Roland: brown hair
    • Anna: light orange hair

Whilst not necessarily a big deal, it seems odd to change hair colour for the webtoon adaptation. *shrugs*

Another character that has been treated differently in the web novel is the witch Nightingale. In the webtoon, she is easily brushed over. However, we learn a lot more about her in the latter parts of the first twenty-five chapters of this web novel.

WORLDBUILDING
The worldbuilding for this series provides an expansive sandbox for storytelling, mixing science with magic. The mystery regarding the origins of the witches and conflict pertaining to their persecution offers plenty of room for future conflict. We also see the mystery surrounding how Chen Yan got transmigrated as well. Will this have wider implications for the world setting? I suspect that it will, but I will have to wait and see.
On another note, this series also places great importance on lineage. Whist the more blatant example of this is with the royals, characters such as the hunter known as Iron Axe show how much family history plays a part in how the inhabitants of the kingdom are viewed. It is subtle but it is there nonetheless.

CONS???
Any issues? I only detected a few typoes in the English translation I have had the pleasure of reading. It is well within acceptable levels, not enough to hurt my enjoyment of the story. Apart from that, I haven’t noticed anything else of note.

CONCLUSION
So far, this series is proving to be an entertaining read that blends mystery, smarts and good character development in an interesting fantasy setting. I’d best describe it as “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court meets Game of Thrones” but with more science, magic and romantic elements. If you are looking for a fantasy setting and/or are Isekai trash such as myself, then this series will be right up your alley.

If you are interested in checking out this series, I’ve been reading it over at NovelFull (series page). I chose this site as it is easier to navigate compared to several others I found the translation project on. Also, the group that originally translated this series no longer has it on their website otherwise I would direct you to them instead.

 


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LN Review: Return of the Female Knight Ch 51 – 64

Alternate Names: RFK, RotFK
Year: 2016 / 2018 (depends on where you look)
Author: Lee Halin
Artist: Jiyan
Genre: Josei, Fantasy, Action, Romance

Continuing their outing, Elena presses Carlisle on when they first met. It turns out that he first met her at the palace when he was thirteen, leaving a great impression on him. He also offers a solution to the ruined dresses. We soon learn that there was not one but two people spying on Elena. The second of which is Batori the jewelry guy who we met previously. He is apparently looking for the “dragon’s magic orb” for Elena’s favourite dude Puvalec. #sarcasm [it seems that the ring might be the cause of Elena’s reset] Carlisle and Elena enjoy a romantic horse-ride in the moonlight before parting company.

The following day, Elena informs Mirabelle of a benefactor providing premade dresses that only need to be altered. When Mirabelle mentions an event involving an upcoming festival involving the Flower Bridge where Carlisle will be in attendance, Elena is put on edge. The memory of the bridge collapsing plays on her mind and she fears for her husbando’s safety. In an attempt to stop a repeat of the disaster, she informs Carlisle and once again dons her mother’s black armour. #hype When the moment arrives, Elena discovers further knowledge of a conspiracy to undermine a noble family. However, this also ends in an argument leading to a tender moment between her and Carlisle.

We then move to Helen Selby who now has Sophie and Tilda working for her. Sophie is being a huge suck-up to the noblewoman. Whilst cocky due to the ruining of the Blaise sisters’ dresses, Helen is annoyed that her spy (that dude who was straight-up murdered by Kuhn Kasha) hasn’t returned from his task. #houseselbyproblems

Elsewhere, Elena is going stir crazy due to being stuck at the mansion in the capital. The young butler Michael informs her that there is no trace of Sophie other than the last sighting involved an apparent kidnapping. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Carlisle’s ‘care package” of shinies. Unused to the bling, Elena once again summons intermediary Kuhn. #firstwaifuproblem

So, this week sees Elena once again don her mother’s armour in order to deal with some minions. I was really looking forward to seeing some action… then that opportunity was squandered by the sequence being abruptly cut off before a time skip where our female lead defeats them. This was a wasted opportunity given the build-up. That being said, we do learn more about Batori and what became of the two maids that used to live at Blaise Castle. This is also coupled with some sweet moments between Elena and Carlisle.

Whilst I did feel that some opportunities were breezed past, the story is still progressing nicely. We are seeing some romantic tension between Elena and Carlisle, but our female lead has a way to go before she can be called “best girl”. That title is still on Mirabelle. The “best husbando” title goes to the long-suffering Kuhn, making for a very awkward shuffling in my chair as I type this. Sure, I’ve read a lot of series where a lead wasn’t “best” material, but both the male and female lead? *shrugs* In any case, the story is still somewhat entertaining in spite of my complaints this time around.

If you are interested in checking the series out, visit the SG Translations (series page) and maybe consider supporting their efforts over at Patreon.


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Anime Review: Kemono Michi: Rise Up

Alternate Names: Hataage! Kemono Michi
Year: 2019
Episodes: 12 (English dub version)
Genre: Shounen, Fantasy, Isekai, Action, Comedy, Ecchi

>queue dramatic music< Just when you thought that Isekai was becoming stale comes a story about a wrestler and his dog trying to start their own pet shop in another world. Also… panties…

Ahead of his last match, Professional wrestler Genzou Shibata (aka Animal Mask), is looking forward to a retirement where he and his canine manager Hiroyuki run their own petshop. However, in the middle of the match the duo are summoned to a fantasy world to deal with its current Demon Lord problem. However, he would much rather petting and cuddling monsters than beat them up, leading to him unceremoniously doing a wrestling maneuver on Princess Altena who summoned him. He heads off in search of a way to make enough money to start his own petshop for beasts, He is soon joined on his quest to open his very own petshop by a bizarre cast of non-humans. It will be a never-ending quest to keep their funds in the black.

When I first heard about this series ahead of the first episode being released, I was intrigued. Being Isekai Trash, I was looking for another spin on the concept and this series also promised lots of comedic shenanigans. Then I watched the first episode… Holy crap, it was freaking hilarious and unapologetic in its low-brow silliness. It was an easy choice to continue this series given the strength of that first episode.

The series revolves around a summoned hero whose desire to open a pet shop to provide furr-ever homes for cute animals seemingly comes into conflict with the goal for summoning him in the first place. He will soon be joined in his quest by three female characters, but this series avoids the harem tag expertly whilst at the same time pokes fun at the concept. Let’s face it, he is more attracted to the female unicorn and married kobold woman up the road, than the wolf-girl Shigure, low-rank large-breasted idiotic vampire Carmilla (my favourite character) and voracious dragon loli Hanako.
Whilst Genzou’s “preferences” are a running joke, each of the characters is mocked heavily, ranging from the bishie hero that keeps “losing” his new swords to the monetarily-focused Shigure who keeps “finding” and reselling his swords. No character is safe from mockery, which makes for a fun ride. Various running gags and jokes are sprinkled in just enough to avoid becoming repetitive. Whilst it straddles the line between funny and stupid on many occasions, it is consistent and holds to the promise made in the first episode.

I bet that Genzou would want to keep Yoda at his pet shop…

Time and time again, we see Genzou being the catalyst for change in those around him, whether they are male or female. Most of these changes involve them either taking up wrestling or signing onto his quest to start a pet shop. He is the perfect impact character, placing him in good company.

The end of this series felt satisfying and also leaves things open to a second season. I would love to see the continuation of the show but it might be a tall order given the niche nature of the series. It would also have to step things up a notch by introducing the real demon lord as well, someone that hasn’t been introduced as yet. Sure, Joanna has some magical power, but it would be interesting to see a wrestling match (complete with fake rivalry) between Genzou and a new character, preferably one that isn’t as moronic as Joanna. Maybe give our summoned hero a chance to engage in a cage match with Mao (aka Macadamian Ogre) against the Demon Lord. There are plenty of possibilities. ❤

Whilst I loved this show, this series is not for anyone. Some folks might not enjoy the childish silliness of this series and the wrestling themes might also be annoying to others. However, it is not meant to be for everyone and that is okay as the variety of different types of Isekai available these days provides more than enough choices.

If you don’t mind a series that pokes fun at each character, enjoy wrestling culture, and/or is unapologetically “childish” then I recommend that you check out this series. (Yes, I do fall into each of these categories.)


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LN Review: Return of the Female Knight Ch 45 – 50

Alternate Names: RFK, RotFK
Year: 2016 / 2018 (depends on where you look)
Author: Lee Halin
Artist: Jiyan
Genre: Josei, Fantasy, Action, Romance

After discovering that the dresses that she and her sister ordered for the ball have been ripped to shreds, Elena investigates. She soon discovers a now-missing maid that spent time alone with the dresses. She also learns that former Blaise maid Sophie (also happens to be Tilda’s BFF) sent a letter days before. (da dum dum) The search is now on for Sophie. (Is Elena gonna have to slap a bitch?)
Elena once again summons Kuhn Kasha. They discuss the recent shenanigans. Elena is more aware of how closely she is being monitored by Carlisle’s flunkies now. It then ends with her being given an invitation to the opera, with a pickup time. (How to Pick-Up Ladies 101) She deliberates on the expense before parting company with Sir Kuhn. Elena breaks the unfortunate news to a p*ssed off Mirabelle, also going over the specific details of the situation.

Elena soon heads to the opera, with the intention of looking for a dress shop afterwards. As she travels to her first destination, she realises that she is actually looking forward to seeing her future husbando and comes to the conclusion that it is a good thing that she doesn’t have any negative feelings towards him. [all of that hand-holding is obviously having an affect on his waifu] Elena arrives to a wall of banners shielding her appearance from aristocrats, just before she is taken to some VIP seats. Reunited with Carlisle in the best booth in the entire building, she is subjected to a barrage of compliments and his handsome face. [Oh, what a problem to have…?]
After a minor argument about the expense for the booth, Elena and Carlisle watch the show. She is, unfortunately, distracted by his presence the entire time. The show closes with an awkward conversation between the duo and they soon leave in order to reduce the rush of people that would inevitably be caused by the rush to leave. Elena soon gets treated to some fine cuisine at a trusted establishment. The dinner conversation moves to the issue of the spoils of war which reminds her of his commoner lineage.

Outside of the dining establishment, Elena’s male stalker from House Selby is about to leave to inform Helen Selby of the scandal of Elena being with some unknown rich dude when he is silently assassinated by Sir Kuhn.

Chapters forty-five to fifty didn’t yield much in the way of major events. However, we do get to know more about Carlisle’s attitude towards spending and a not-so-subtle explanation of how the illegitimate child of a maid and the emperor managed to gain as much power as he has. On top of this, we finally get to see Kuhn kill somebody. This time, it is a spy for Helen Selby. With this, are also told that Crown Prince Carlisle is getting more serious about the way in which his waifu is being treated by Helen. Over-reaction? Not really. After all, the future mother of the empire needs to be respected and anybody that interferes with her needs to be dealt with in order to avoid problems in the future. It just needs Helen to be dealt with as well, not just her minions.

Anyway…

Begone, Thot!

If you are interested in checking the series out, visit the SG Translations (series page) and maybe consider supporting their efforts over at Patreon.


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Anime Review: Cautious Hero

Alternate Names: Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious, Shinchou Yuusha, Shinchou Yuusha: Kono Yuusha ga Ore Tueee Kuse ni Shinchou Sugiru
Year: 2019
Episodes: 12 (English dub version)
Genre: Fantasy, Isekai, Action, Comedy, Ecchi

I had a little bit of fun with this parody of series where a hero must defeat a Demon Lord. I also recommend that you guys check out the 100 Word Anime blog for Karandi’s episode by episode take on the series.

When a certain low-level Goddess Ristarte is given the job of helping an S-class world Gaeabrande defeat the resident Demon Lord, she is in over her head. So, she does what every self-respecting Goddess in her situation does and searches for hero candidates from Japan. Little does she know that the hero that she choses is insanely cautious, nor of their past connection.

Given the massive amount of series pitting a hero against Demon Lords in recent years, there has been a lot of people trying to do something unique with the premise. KonoSuba challenged people to parody the idea. Cautious Hero is a series that has managed to do something unique with this, by making the male lead not only overpowered but also insanely cautious.
The series itself tells in an entire story arc of a hero saving a world. There is plenty of epic battles, lots of foreshadowing and some interesting twists. The gut-punch in the last few episodes also puts into perspective what can happen when heroes do not have sufficient caution as well. Whilst this might be called a tonal shift by some, I found it quite appropriate given the foes that Seiya had fought up until that point. With monstrosities that like to turn people into “fireworks” and those that are willing to sacrifice their own family to summon powerful demons, it does a great job of pointing out stakes.
As for the characterisation, this series does really well in messing with archetypes. The world-building and backstories also do an excellent job of making these characters make sense within the fantasy setting. I found myself laughing at the dialogue and situations more often than not as well.
Whilst my own particular tastes mean that I could easily rewatch this series, I know that it probably won’t have much replay value for others. For some, the visual gags and jokes are only good for the first watch, which is perfectly fine. The stakes were high in the series as well, with the conclusion feeling very much like it was parodying the tendency for series to try to escalate things.

Whilst I love this series, it is not for everyone. However, if you are after a series that unapologetically pokes fun at the oversaturated “hero summoned to another world to defeat a demon lord” premise, then I highly recommend this series.


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Webtoon Review: The Knight and Her Emperor Ch 1 – 10

Alternate Names: Emperor And The Female Knight, Kaisar dan Ksatria Wanita, Koutei to Onna Kishi
Year: 2019 (ongoing)
Writer: Glasses Monkey
Artist: Team Iyak (Winter & Heyum)
Genre: Shoujo, Manhwa, Action, Drama, Romance

On the day that Luxos I of Acrea achieves his goal of conquering the entire continents he realises that he’s fallen in love with his female knight Pollyanna…

Twenty years earlier…
With each noble family of the kingdom of Ehas required to provide a member for the military, lower aristocrat Duke Kellenbell sends the daughter from his previous off to die on the battlefield thus solidifying her younger half-sister Ryanna’s position as heir of the Kellenbell duchy. Pollyanna is put into the care of a veteran who takes it upon himself to train her ahead of the teenager being conscripted into the war between Ehas and Cukda at fourteen years of age. (seems that the two countries have a long history of fighting each other)
Luxos is the son of the King of Acrea. Father and son discuss the state of the continent due to battles such as the conflict between Ehas and Cukda. When his father passes on during the following winter, he is coronated. He takes on that promise that he made to his father and begins plans to unify the continent for the sake of those within it.

By the sixth winter of the war, Pollyanna has worked her butt off to eventually become commanding officer of her own platoon. She ponders her future, then petitions to take time off of. A visit to her family home reinforces the fact that she is not welcome there. So, she decides to gather information. Based on odd troop movements, she eventually comes to the conclusion that the Acrean Empire will soon invade. However, her report is quickly rejected by the higher-ups on account of their own cockiness and sexism. Not long after that, Acrea attacks.

Now in the midst of his campaign to unify the continent in order to become the first emperor, Luxos has been busy creating strategies for taking over various regions with Ehas being one of the first targets. When he hears of a young commanding officer from an enemy unit that has managed to escape during an ambush, he is intrigued and commands the commander to be taken alive. However, when that officer is eventually captured, the “man” before him exceeds his expectations and he asks if offers her a place as one of his knights. Unfortunately, the realisation that she is a woman results in the command of an execution by beheading and he leaves. Knowing that she will be raped ahead of being killed, she begins to fight.
Meanwhile, Luxos is in his tent reading reports on a certain young officer named Pollyanna Kellenbell who was demoted after making a certain report… Regret over losing a potential resource, his musings are disturbed by the sound of a scuffle nearby. After fighting off Acrean soldiers for three hours, Polly is bloodied and bruised. Yet another request on her part to be executed is promptly denied by Luxos and she is again asked to join the Acrean empire out of recognition for her talents. She accepts and is asked if she wishes to retain her last name. She declines and Luxos gives her the name Pollyanna Winter.
As talk about how Polly is treated spreads, we meet Donau, Sir Baopalro’s son. Resenting the fact that he might have been overlooked to become a knight because of a random female soldier from the enemy, he begins to resent her. We also get to learn more about Luxos’ advisors via their attitudes towards Pollyanna and her ideas and they discuss giving her a piece of land after conquering Ehas in order to remove her from the equation as they do not trust her due to her defection.
As Pollyanna is sufficiently recovered from her wounds to do light duties, she tries to make herself useful to the army. Repeatedly rebuffed, she is eventually asked to cook by Sir Baopalro because he thinks that she might be able to cook good food. (positive sexism – you betcha!) She then shows her expertise by preparing a nutrient-rich yet nasty soup. (come to think of it, it sort of reminds me of an infamous soup that my mother cooked back when I was still dating hubby…) She has officially proven that she is a sh*tty cook and Donau is asked to assist her, much to the dummy-spitting idiot’s chagrin.

I came across this series by chance about a month ago. I found the premise interesting enough to give it a read. I quickly found myself drawn into the tale of Pollyanna and Luxos, two characters that I couldn’t help but root for. As for the romance aspects, it appears to be a slow burn series. So far, the male and female leads barely know each other. Their relationship status is currently that of boss and loyal employee.
This series begins with an endpoint, showing how Luxos will view Pollyanna by the time that his army reaches the other side of the continent. [the promise with a ticking clock of sorts] Knowing that he will eventually develop feelings for Pollyanna tells the reader the direction that this series will take. However, what it doesn’t tell us is how they will get to that point, which is the entire point of the series.
The first ten chapters give background on the main characters, establishes the situation that they find themselves in and what challenges they will likely face in future. It is also a new beginning for Pollyanna after she is captured by the Acrean military trying to take over her idiotic kingdom. Why? Because her talents will be acknowledged by those that actually care about the welfare of their own soldiers. Contrast this with the Ehas commanders tendency to rely on the “choke the enemy with our dead” method of warfare. It is an understandable and logical reason for the female lead becoming a knight of Acrea. There is also the prospect of seeing new places as Luxos’ campaign to take over the continent progresses.
Both Pollyanna and Luxos are exceptional individuals from significantly different backgrounds even though they are of noble blood in their respective countries. Pollyanna is the child of a first wife (parents are divorced) who is treated poorly by her father and stepfamily. On the other hand, Luxos was close to his father. In spite of this, both are intelligent, perceptive and knowledgeable. Seeing the duo act separately is fun enough. However, seeing them working them together is sure to be so much better.
Another point of note is how the author portrays military discipline. Pollyanna is tough as nails because she lived and breathed the military life. The mentorship of the veteran that her father left her with played a huge part in her abilities and knowledge. If she hadn’t persevered, she would not have got as far as she had during her time as a soldier for Ehas. Certain concepts have been drilled into her, and those concepts have allowed her to survive. She is disciplined and stands up for herself without being a b*tch. However, she still needs a purpose beyond simply living your life day to day. This is where her desire to help Luxos achieve his goal of becoming an emperor comes into the equation. A soldier needs a good leader to provide a further purpose. Most people need to be conceived that the purpose is meaningful as well. In the first chapter, Polly’s mentor also touches on the importance of a purpose. In any case, she looks the part of a bad*ss military officer.

To the subject of rape in the first ten chapters…

Looks like its time for Polly to stab a bitch

Whilst I absolutely adore this series so far, I do find the artwork somewhat curious. Whilst the characters are easy to distinguish from each other, the eyes weird. They either fit into the pinpoints or medium-sized category, contrasting with a lot of Manhwa series that have either tiny or large eyes. Does it hurt my enjoyment of the story? No. I just think it is a weird choice.

I recently discovered that this story is based on a text-based novel. Given what I have currently read of this series, I will likely read the novel at some stage.
If you are interested in checking out this series, new chapters are released every Friday at Tappytoon (series page).


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LN Review: Return of the Female Knight Ch 33 – 44

Alternate Names: RFK, RotFK
Year: 2016 / 2018 (depends on where you look)
Author: Lee Halin
Artist: Jiyan
Genre: Josei, Fantasy, Action, Romance

This week’s chapters were a fun read, moving the story forward whilst at the same time posing more questions. We meet new characters and learn more about established ones. As for the foreshadowing…

After summoning new bodyguard Kuhn Kasha at the end of the last chapter, Elena quicl;y learns that his skillset would work well for assassination. (Bro!!!) She arranges for him to gather information on the political situation before he leaves unceremoniously. After a trip to a jeweller’s shop to deal with an order, Elena’s ring gains the attention of the clerk who then secretly arranges for information about the ring be to relayed to a third party. (Further importance goes to that ring that a boy from Elena’s childhood gave her. But is it the same party that is being relayed the information? Probably not… but they are certainly going to be important players.)
Another visit by Kuhn yields important information about the state of political power in the empire and also yields numerous questions. After asking Kuhn to look into a powerful merchant family known as the Krauses, she narrowly avoids Mirabelle finding her with a man in the room. (She is now convinced that he is an unpredicable weirdo.) Mirabelle sees him in the yard and makes an odd comment about his hair sharing the same colour as her favourite teddy. (Oh, Mirabelle – don’t ever change!) Later, Elena sets off for the capital with her sister.
During the trip, Kuhn drops off some information again. Soon after, Kuhn reveals his presence to Mirabelle after she collapses in Elena’s room, in order to tend to her sickness and avoid being falsely accused if something bad happened to her. (Definitely more foreshadowing of a future romance between Kuhn and Mirabelle.) Elena accepts delivery of the piece of jewellry that she ordered for her sister by that shifty store clerk, Batori Coven, who came in person. During her wanderings, she narrowly avoids stabbing Carlisle (again) in an alleyway. (It is a thing they do. Perhaps this reflex will save her in future.)
During their reunion, Elena and Caril spend some quality time together shopping and hanging out. During a brief carriage trip shared with him, Caril is once again evasive (playfully so) about how the two met. After returning to the inn, Elena learns that Mirabelle has collapsed again and that Kuhn took care of her younger sister in Elena’s absence. We then move to where the villainous Helen Selby has just brought in the recently fired maid Sophie. (It was pretty obvious that Sophie was going to end up working for Helen at some point.)
Now that Mirabelle is well enough, the two sisters venture to Madame Mitchell’s shop Anco’s Tailors, in order to collect the dresses that they ordered for the upcoming ball. Once again, Mirabelle is praised for her sense of style. They then arrive at the mansion that their father is staying at for work only to learn from the new butler that their dresses have been destroyed. (SHENANIGANS!!!)

Chapters thirty-three to forty-four saw a lot of things that were foreshadowed previously finally falling into place. Mirabelle finally met Kuhn, Sophie was brought into Helen’s employ, and the ring that Elena was given when she was younger is becoming more and more relevant as she becomes closer to Carlisle.
Whilst some things about Kuhn were hinted at previously, we get to learn more about the enigmatic character in his dealings with members of the Blaise household and staff. The development of the romance between Elena and Carlisle is still moving along nicely even if Carlisle is tight-lipped. I only wish that characters such as Helen Selby had more depth.
The introduction of the Krause family also brings with it lots of possibilities for the direction that the story will take. Are they bad guys pulling strings in the background? Or do they prefer privacy for the purposes of gaining an advantage with business? I need to know, dammit!

If you are interested in checking the series out, visit the SG Translations (series page) and maybe consider supporting their efforts over at Patreon. Be sure to check out their patreon page as well while you are at it.